Nottinghamshire County Council has welcomed the focus on adoption that the government action plan will bring.
Cabinet member for children & young people’s services councillor Philip Owen said: “While we’re keen to ensure that children in care are placed with adoptive families as quickly as possible, it is vitally important that sufficient time and effort is put into ensuring that the adoption is one that is going to be stable and endure that trials and tribulations of family life. Nothing would be worse for a child than if the adoption placement turned out to be inappropriate and fail as a result.
“And whilst we recognise that we need to have an efficient process, we also need to make sure that all the necessary checks are in place for the child’s wellbeing.
“Nottinghamshire makes ambitious adoption plans for older children, disabled children and families with siblings – we’re committed to finding permanent homes for all these groups and traditionally it takes longer to place a child over the age of three. However, we’re not sure if the score cards which are being introduced to measure the speed of adoption will acknowledge the problems we face in finding homes for some of these children who are harder to place.
“We’re committed to finding the best outcome possible for children including keeping brothers and sisters together and placing older children and disabled children with adopters. Sometimes achieving this does take longer than for younger children.”
The Council will have placed 50 children for adoption during 2011/12 which is up on 2010/11 when permanent homes were found for 40.
So far in 2011/12, 31 families have been approved to adopt which is consistent with the year before.
Nottinghamshire County Council has reviewed the process for adopters and hopes to approve them within eight months of application which is in line with statutory guidance, however a further review will take place in the light of the six months target announced in the action plan.
Coun Owen explained: “The new targets of six months to approve potential adopters set out in the Government’s plan would be a challenge for us and would mean altering the systems we use. We need to see the full plan before we can comment further, but we’re confident that we will we be able to adapt to any necessary changes that need to be made.
“In terms of speeding up the approval process, we already discuss potential children with families during the process rather than waiting until after approval to do this, so we will build on this good practice.”
“We have made enormous strides in the last year by investing in this area and our performance for placing children with adoptive families within 12 months is improving as a result – 61%* of children are now placed within a year of the decision that adoption is the best route for them.”