Government policy to increase number of children being adopted falters as adoption figures fall

Adoption was made a priority by the coalition, as the prime minister declared in 2012 there was ‘no more pressing issue’ than speeding up the adoption process. Between 2012-2014 the number of children completing the adoption process rose by 60%.However, latest figures released by the Department for Education show the number of children granted an adoption placement order has dropped by 24% from 2014.

The National Adoption Leadership Board has linked decreases in placement orders to the impact of two recent court judgments, Re B (A Child) [2013] and Re B-S (Children) [2013]. These cases concerned appeals by parents opposing the adoption of their children. The number of looked after children has increased steadily over the past seven years however the majority of children looked after are placed with foster carers. Of the total looked after children in March 2015, 75% of them were cared for in a foster placement.

A spokesperson from the Department for Education has stated that the reason for the decrease in the number of children with an adoption decision is a result of the way local authorities have interpreted some court judgments. The Adoption Leadership Board has therefore published guidance to clarify what these judgments mean and to allow clear and confident adoption decisions to be made.

The Chief Executive of Barnardo’s, Javed Khan, has expressed deep concern at the fall in the number of children being put forward for adoption. Mr Khan feels that Local authorities shouldn’t ‘shy away’ from acting decisively on adoption. If the fall in adoption numbers continues ‘unchecked’ it is thought that a real crisis could occur as children will be stuck in limbo or miss out completely on the chance of growing up in their own loving and supportive family.