East Worthing and Shoreham MP calls for adoptions overhaul

WITH the number of children being adopted falling, and the number of children in care rising, the MP for East Worthing and Shoreham thinks it’s time for an overhaul.

Tim Loughton, also children’s minister, is backing government plans to create a faster adoption service which will make it easier for a couple to adopt children from ethnic minorities.

During the year ending March, 2011, only 3,050 looked-after children were adopted (two per cent of whom were black), despite a staggering 65,520 being in the care of local authorities.

Mr Loughton said: “The point of what we are trying to do is to make sure children in care are being considered for adoption. As the number of kids coming to adoption is going up there is a big problem with delays and it’s taking far too long for kids to get adopted.”

Mr Loughton thinks for the right bond to be created between children and adoptive parents, they need to be taken out of care at the first possible opportunity.

He added: “The most important thing for a child in care is to find a safe and stable family. Research shows that every year spent getting a child adopted makes the adoption 20 per cent less likely to work.”

At the moment, it takes black children nearly two times longer to get adopted than white children, which Mr Loughton blamed on social workers following rules that may have applied “20 or 30 years ago”.

Mr Loughton said: “There is a bit of a mind-set among some social workers, who think having ethnically matched placements should be an over-riding factor. That may have been the case 20 or 30 years ago – now it’s a consideration but it should never be a deal breaker.”

Mr Loughton, along with Martin Narey, the government’s ministerial adviser on adoption, were in London on Wednesday to discuss the Action Plan for Adoption.

Some of the key issues discussed were speeding up the assessment process which “adopters” go through, introducing a national portal which will offer more information on the subject and score card system to rate how well local authorities are doing.

Mr Loughton said: “We need to make sure we have more people coming forward to become adopters. A lot of people are deterred by how bureaucratic it is and how long it takes.

“We are going to try to make it [the assessment process] six months instead of prospective parents having to wait years to get that approved.”

To learn more about adoption, visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/adoption