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New rules for social workers following adoption reform

Date:3 MAR 2014
Journals Manager + Online Editor

New guidance published today will help social workers navigate the reformed adoption system when considering adoption for vulnerable children.

The planned guidance is published for consultation alongside a series of draft regulation changes. The package marks the next step towards implementation of comprehensive reforms to the adoption system and includes:

  • regulation changes requiring councils to consider fostering for adoption wherever appropriate so more children are placed in stable homes earlier;
  • rule changes to reduce delay for black and ethnic minority children, by removing the risk that ethnicity is prioritised over other factors;
  • making it mandatory for councils to tell prospective adopters about their entitlement to adoption support;
  • removing restrictions on the adoption register so adopters can play a much more active role in identifying children they might be suitable to adopt.

Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson, who has two adopted brothers, said:

'Our reforms to the adoption register, greater use of fostering for adoption and the removal of often unnecessary delay, will mean would-be adopters can play a much greater role in the process and will ensure children who need them are given stable, loving homes with their new families much more quickly.

The revised adoption guidance will also make it much easier for social workers to follow the new processes when considering adoption for vulnerable children. It means they can make the best possible decisions in the interests of the 6,000 children waiting for a loving home.'

The revised statutory guidance has been refocused to help social workers place children with adoptive parents more quickly, engage adopters in the process much sooner and provide support to properly meet the needs of adopted children and their new families.

The Children and Families Bill, which will receive royal assent in the coming weeks, will see significant improvements to the adoption system. It follows a number of reforms implemented last year, including:

  • a 2-stage approval process so the majority of adopters are approved to adopt within 6 months;
  • a legal duty on all adoption agencies to refer prospective adopters to the adoption register within 3 months of approval;
  • a duty to ensure that the information on children waiting to be adopted is kept up to date, as well as referring the children to the register within 3 months of the adoption decision.

Wider reforms made through the bill will give adopters a choice of how to obtain adoption support through personal budgets. These will be piloted alongside a new adoption support fund.