Three new voluntary adoption agencies will open their doors for business today, as part of a £16m Government drive to encourage more people to adopt.
The agencies have each committed to recruit over 100 adopters in their first 3 years, finding stable, loving homes for vulnerable children who are waiting to be adopted - particularly those children who are harder to place.
Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson, who has 2 adopted brothers himself, said:
'It's great to see 3 new agencies opening their doors today as a direct result of the government's investment, finding and helping up to 300 potential adopters across the country.
With more than 6,000 children still waiting for a loving home, it's vital we continue to do all that we can to recruit new parents and give voluntary adoption agencies a key role in boosting the number of adopters further.'
Research published last year by the Department for Education shows that there could be up to 4 million people in England likely to consider adopting at some point in the future.
Of these, over 650,000 say they are actively considering adopting imminently, yet up and down the country we know there are still 6,000 children waiting to be adopted.
Last summer the Government made over £16m available to help voluntary adoption agencies expand in order to address the shortfall of adopters and place children who need stable homes more quickly.
Each of the new agencies - based in a different region of the country - has been awarded a start-up grant of around £500,000 to help prepare and support people who want to become adoptive parents.
The money - available until 2016 - also consists of:
There are already 25 VAAs in England, who in 2012 to 2013 have recruited and approved over 600 desperately needed parents for the thousands of children waiting for a stable home. VAAs work alongside local authorities in recruiting and assessing prospective adopters, before creating a match with a child who is waiting for a loving home.
The Government has also announced that the Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies has been appointed to oversee the £13m expansion fund, distributing grants to successful agencies, in conjunction with Methods Consultancy who will lead on providing tailored business support to agencies to help improve efficiency and plan growth.
This is the latest in a series of reforms the government has made to address the chronic shortage of adopters and reform the way they are recruited, including:
- make sure court hearings on children entering care last no longer than 26 weeks, except in exceptional circumstances
- encourage ‘fostering for adoption' - placing children with approved adopters who will foster the child while they wait for court approval to adopt
- give adoptive parents the same pay and leave rights as birth parents from 2015
- allow prospective adopters to access the adoption register directly, subject to appropriate safeguards, so they can play a more active role in identifying children for whom they might be suitable adoptive parents