The latest figures show that on average, it takes two years seven months for a child to be adopted, with a 5% drop in the number of children adopted in England since 2010. We need to tackle this now and look at ways not only to reduce the bureaucratic barriers, but also to channel scarce resources into social services to attract and motivate the best and brightest social workers.
Whilst the publication of this latest adoption data is shining welcome light on the issue, we must look at the data in context and in its entirety. The ‘name and shame’ campaign that is only focusing on the speed of placements grabs the headlines but is, as the Director of Children’s Services at Hackney suggests, a “narrow slice of a very complicated pie.”
With Hackney languishing at the bottom of the pile for speed, one would make the assumption that their adoption services are not only slow, but poor. So, it is interesting to see then that Hackney, which has many complex cases, has one of the best records when it comes to successful long-term adoptions. This is a very important indicator that cannot be ignored. So there is a fine balance to be struck here between speed and effectiveness.
The fact that we are having this debate though is very positive, and National Adoption Week has been a huge success in bringing adoption to the very top of the agenda -where it needs to be.