Michael Gove’s drive to speed up the adoption process has sent the number of children in care placed with permanent families to record levels.
Almost 4,000 children in care were adopted in England in the year from April 2012 and March 2013 – the highest figure since comparable records began in 1992. The figure is up 15 per cent in a single year.
Although exactly comparable records do not exist beyond the early 1990s, it is thought they are now running at their highest level since the 1960s. It follows separate figures released by the Office for National Statistics last month showing that the total number of adoption orders – which include children being formally adopted by step-parents – also reached record levels.
But they showed that fewer babies were adopted than ever before because of the length of time the process still takes.
The new figures show that 3,980 children were adopted from care in the year to March 2013, up from 3,470 the previous year.
There has also been a major increase in the number of children in care placed with foster parents – which is seen as a key step towards adoption under the Government’s reforms. In March this year there were 50,900 children in a foster placement – a 16 per cent increase over the last four years.
The Education Secretary, who was himself adopted as a baby, and the children’s minister Edward Timpson, who grew up in a family which took in scores of foster children, have led a high-profile drive to increase adoption levels.
Mr Gove has spoken of the need to “evacuate” children from neglectful or abusive settings and placed in loving, stable families.
Children and families Minister Edward Timpson said: “It is hugely encouraging that the number of children adopted from care has risen to the highest level yet – but too many children are still waiting too long for stable, loving homes.”
Well this looks all very encouraging for the government, particularly with the extensive reforms to try and push up the speed of the adoption process. My only concern is that there doesn’t appear to be any sign of whether these children are actually satisfied in those homes. We are probably expected to believe that they are, but until any sort of statistic mentioning that is published, I don’t want to be jumping up and down too soon.