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BASW urges government to keep adoption policy in proportion

Commenting on government plans to compel councils to consider placing children with approved adopters and remove what ministers have described as “groundless doubts about whether ‘Fostering for Adoption’ is legal and good practice”, BASW professional officer Nushra Mansuri said:

“Whilst we welcome developments in concurrent planning for children, we need to acknowledge that this will only be appropriate for a relatively small cohort of very young children. Let’s not forget that the profile of the vast majority of the 65,000 children in the care system is older children as opposed to babies where adoption is not suitable. What is needed is a holistic approach to reform of the care system.

“Although the expansion of this model is to be welcomed, we are concerned about the government’s continued over-simplification of complex work and insufficient recognition of the need to address such fundamentals as the impact of cuts on children’s services as well as a lack of support for parents post-adoption. Without this acknowledgement, we are concerned that this could end up as a headline grabbing exercise rather than securing real change.

“It is important that we take note of the findings of Coram’s interim report published this month on Concurrent Planning. It clearly states that this intervention is only suitable for a comparatively tiny minority of children in the care system, and so has its limitations. Not all foster carers or potential adopters would be willing to put themselves through this process for a number of reasons, particularly as there is a potential in some cases for a child to return to its birth family, albeit in a minute percentage of cases. It is certainly an approach that does have its merits and could be used more extensively than currently, but it is not the panacea to children in care. There are cost implications too given that both the professionals and adopters require additional training and support for example, so this needs to be taken into account and adequately resourced.

“Ultimately, it is children’s best interests which are paramount, and what is required is a concerted effort to achieve the best outcomes for all children in the care system, expending equal time and resources to all forms of permanence planning, not just adoption. ”

BASW is currently preparing a submission to the House of Lords Select Committee on Adoption, which is scrutinising the legislation that sets out adoption law in England and Wales and considering the adoption process.