The education secretary Michael Gove has called on more people to adopt children. The call comes as it has emerged that more than 4200 children are ready for adoption but have not yet been able to move in with a family - a figure that has grown by 650 in each of the last two years.
The Secretary of State, who was adopted when he was four months old, said he wants other children to have the same early settled experience of a secure and loving home. It still takes on average two and a half years from a child going into care to being adopted. For that reason the Government has undertaken a series of reforms to make the adoption process swifter, and encourage more people to come forward.
The Government is introducing a new shorter two stage process for prospective adopters; and has introduced changes aimed at ensuring swifter use of the adoption register by councils, and scorecards that show the difference in delay for children in different local authorities.
The call comes as the Government lays draft legislation in Parliament to introduce 'Fostering for Adoption'. This involves placing children with approved adopters who will foster the child while they wait for court approval for adoption - a process which can take many months. In addition, the Government intends to remove the requirement on social workers to consider a child's race, and religious, cultural and linguistic background when matching a child with adopters.
The reforms would become law in two years' time.