Ofsted has announced new adoption inspection rating criteria that will result in only local authorities that ensure all children identified for adoption are placed within 12 months, unless there are exceptional circumstances, are likely to achieve an ‘outstanding' judgement.
Along with the new adoption inspection arrangements, Ofsted is also launching the new inspection framework for fostering and revisions to the children's homes framework introduced a year ago.
However children professionals are concerned that the new targets could discourage councils from seeking adoptions for children. Councillor David Simmonds, Chairman of the Local Government Association's Children and Young People Board, said: "Councils are rightly keen to reduce delays in matching children in their care with loving parents.
"However, ensuring a child is in the best possible long-term home cannot be tackled thorough a one-size-fits-all approach. Adoption is right for some children, but for others long-term stability might best be found with friends and family through special guardianship.
"We acknowledge that there is a variation in performance across councils and recognise that at times the system has been risk averse, but we want to work with Government to change that and remove barriers that delay decisions, including tackling the significant delays in the family courts.
"Councils are working hard to continually improve services for our most vulnerable children and the LGA and its partners are currently developing a £8 million programme that will encourage children's services professionals to share information on what works. Helping councils to improve adoption processes will be a key part of this."