Adoption map slammed as 'flashy gimmick' by Plymouth councillor
A MAP showing the number of children waiting to be adopted in different parts of England has been slammed as a “flashy gimmick” by a Plymouth councillor.
Today the Department of Education published the graphic, which shows the number of children in each council area waiting for a family to adopt them, along with a new telephone information and advice service.
Plymouth is among the areas with the highest numbers, with 47 children currently waiting to be adopted.
But councillor Nicky Williams, member for children and young people on Plymouth City Council, questioned the need for the new data.
She said: “We naturally support any efforts to speed up the adoption process, but the Government’s adoption map and hotline smacks of flashy gimmicks rather than real efforts to reduce waiting times.
“Adoptive parents don’t tell us they found it hard to know where to start looking for information, so it would seem like the Government has solved a problem that didn’t really exist.”
Of the 47 children on the waiting list in Plymouth, ten are due to be matched with adopters following agreement at adoption panels and 35 have a “placement order” - a court order directing a council to place a child for adoption.
The figures show that a child in Plymouth waits an average of 601 days between entering care and moving in with its adoptive family - below the national average of 636 days.
The average time between the council receiving a placement order and placing a child in adoption is 180 days - again below the national average of 195 days.
Cllr Williams said: “Our priority is always to ensure that children are matched and placed with adopters who will best meet their needs, and this will always take precedent, but we appreciate the importance of swift action when planning a child’s future.
“Nevertheless our performance against the scorecard targets shows we met each of the required thresholds and our results continue to improve year on year.
“19 per cent of our children were adopted from care compared to an average nationally of 12 per cent and 10 per cent of our children aged five or over were adopted compared to a national average of four per cent.
“We have worked incredibly hard to build fostering and adoption services that give children a really good start in life. “Ofsted rated our adoption services as outstanding in its last inspection, but we are never complacent and are always looking for ways to improve.
“We are committed to maintaining our high level of adoptions from care and are working hard to continue to reduce our waiting times. We have very good working relationships with the courts locally and continue to recruit adopters throughout the South West.”
Anne Osborne, the council’s acting head of service for children and young people in care, said: “This map does not paint an accurate picture of local authority performance.
“Plymouth has been very successful in placing more children for adoption than other comparator local authorities.
“The map does reflect that we have children waiting for adoption, as a result of our commitment to finding loving, permanent families for our children.
“However already this year four children have been matched with adopters and 11 more children have been linked to adopters.”
Children and families minister Edward Timpson said: “Today we are providing potential adopters with the tools they need to find children who need adopting right across the country.
“Together the telephone infoline and the new hotspots map will arm would-be adopters with the information they need to approach any local area.
“We know many potential adopters out there can provide children with loving, stable homes but simply don't know where to start.
“These new tools will give many more people support in taking the first steps to adopting a child and giving them the chance to succeed in life.”
If you are interested in adoption in Plymouth, visit www.plymouth.gov.uk/adoption or call 01750 306800.