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'Adoption hotspots' map a gimmick not a solution

The Government’s ‘adoption hotspots’ map launched today showing authorities with the highest number of children waiting for adoption was described as a “simplistic approach” to a complex subject by BASW’s Acting Chief Executive Bridget Robb.

Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson claimed the map, backed by an information hotline, would help would-be adopters find children who needed adopting “right across the country”.

He said: "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.”

The map highlights the number of children in each local authority in England waiting for a family to adopt them, showing potential adopters how many children are waiting in their area and elsewhere.

Ms Robb welcomed investment in finding homes for vulnerable young people, but added: “It is however difficult to avoid a further perspective on this latest government adoption launch, that ministers are utterly obsessed with gimmicks aimed at 'exposing' an apparent world of local authority failure to find good homes for children – implying that central government is the only area of public life taking seriously the need to offer long term stability to young people.    

“So yes, it is welcome to help signpost potential adopters to services that could help them to eventually take a child into their lives, but talk of 'hotspots', areas where children are spending the longest time 'waiting for new homes' is yet another example of this government's simplistic approach to an incredibly complex subject.”

Ms Robb said the real challenge lay in supporting overloaded adoption assessment social workers and professionals who provide continuing assistance once a child has been adopted.

“Better resourcing the assessments process, without introducing unacceptable risks into the system is key, while improved post-adoption support would help to prevent the worrying, and little researched, area of adoption breakdown, where a child is handed back to social services and so suffers twice over.

The new initiative is part of a package of controversial reforms outlined last year to overhaul the adoption system.

BASW has criticised some of the measures, such as plans to speed up the adoption process, warning this could compromise safeguarding.

The Association has also expressed concern over reforms designed to speed up the adoption of ethnic minority children by placing less emphasis on racial origin.

BASW’s stance was backed recently by a House of Lords Select Committee which rejected suggestions by ministers that social workers were delaying adoption by being obsessed with finding the perfect cultural match.