Fostering for Adoption scheme will allow children to move in with families before lengthy legal procedures are finalised
David Cameron is to announce plans to radically speed up the amount of time it takes to place children with potential adopters.
Children will be able to move in with their possible future permanent families before lengthy legal procedures are finalised under the plans.
Cameron hopes the Fostering for Adoption scheme will give children a better start in life by ensuring they have a stable home as quickly as possible.
Under the plans, men and women who have been cleared as adopters can become a child’s foster parent until they are legally allowed to adopt them. Local authorities at present generally wait until court orders are made before beginning their search for a permanent home.
The move will not pre-empt any legal ruling, meaning the youngsters could be returned to their birth parents or other carers. But the government hopes it will mean the interests of the children are put first.
Analysis shows that of the babies put into care aged under one month, half were eventually adopted, but it took an average of more than 15 months for them to move in with their permanent family.
Cameron said: “Children’s needs must be at the very heart of the adoption process – it’s shocking that we have a system where 50% of one-month-old babies who come to the care system go on to be adopted but wait 15 months to be placed in a permanent, loving home.
“That’s why today I’m changing the law and calling for urgent action – both from local authorities and from potential adopters – to get the system moving.
“These new plans will see babies placed with approved adopters who will foster first, and help provide a stable home at a much earlier stage in a child’s life.
“This way, we’re trying our very best to avoid the disruption that can be so damaging to a child’s development and so detrimental to their future well-being.
“I’m determined that we act now to give these children the very best start in life. These babies deserve what every child deserves: a permanent, secure and happy home environment to grow up in.”
Ministers will legislate “as soon as possible” to make fostering by potential adopters standard practice. It comes after the government pledged to take action when it emerged that just 60 babies under the age of one were adopted in 2010/11.
The education secretary, Michael Gove, who was adopted, said: “I want as many babies as possible to have the best start in life. I know that stable and loving families provide the ideal environment for young people to achieve their full potential.
“My hope is that children don’t have to move again and again before finding a permanent home.
“The government owes it to children to encourage more parents to consider adoption. In reforming the system we are determined to make sure the child’s interests are paramount.”