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Government to force councils to merge adoption services

The Department for Education (DfE) has said that powers requiring councils to combine their adoption functions will be included in a Schools and Adoption Bill. They state that this will mean that children awaiting adoption will be placed with a family far quicker because there will be a greater number of potential adopters for every child.

Councils will be encouraged to either identify their own regional approach that would involve authorities uniting their adoption services under one system, or outsource the delivery of their adoption functions into a single regional agency.

It says the forcible creation of “regional adoption agencies” will give councils a greater pool of approved adopters to match children with, as well making it easier to provide support services, and will allow better targeting in the recruitment of adopters for specific groups of children.  

The government has pledged to provide financial and practical support for councils and adoption agencies to enable them to bring services together.

Children’s minister Edward Timpson, said: “Every single day a child spends waiting in care for their new family is a further delay to a life full of love and stability. This just isn’t good enough. By coming together and joining forces, councils can make sure more children are matched with families far quicker - regardless of where they live.”

Hugh Thornbery, chief executive of Adoption UK, said he has long held the view that the current 180 adoption agencies in England is too many when only 5,000 children a year are being placed.  He added: “The encouragement to local authorities and voluntary adoption agencies to work more closely together under regional arrangements makes sense as long as we see continuous improvements in matching children and supporting families when they need it.”