New government data reveals children waiting longer in care before being adopted

News / Sat 18th Nov 2023 at 11:26am

CHILDREN who are unable to live with their birth families and for whom an adoption decision has been made are remaining in the care system for longer before they are adopted, according to government data published today. 

Despite the government’s commitment to reduce the amount of time a child waits in care, today’s figures show that some of society’s most vulnerable children are waiting on average two years and five months to be adopted, two months longer than the previous year and up from two years in 2019. 

Today’s data shows it is taking longer to match a child with adopters once a decision has been made to place a child for adoption. This comes at a time when the cost of living crisis is also having an impact on the decisions of prospective adopters to adopt. In Adoption UK research last year 87% of prospective adopters said cost of living increases were a significant factor in the decisions they were making about becoming an adoptive parent. 

Eighty percent of adopted children will have suffered abuse, neglect, or violence and a further 11% have experienced family dysfunction – most are placed in care before being adopted. The longer a child remains in care, the more likely they are to experience multiple moves between foster placements which can re-traumatise the child. 

Responding to today’s figures, Adoption UK’s chief executive, Emily Frith, said: “The sooner adoption has been decided as the best plan for a child, the sooner they can be placed with a loving family who can offer them permanence and stability. There is still far too much delay in the system, as today’s figures show.  

She continued: “Children in care have already experienced so much early trauma and loss and evidence shows that outcomes are better for children who are adopted than for those who grow up in care. Permanence gives children the best chance of a bright future.”   

The Department for Education figures also show that the number of children adopted from care in England has fallen by 2% in the year to March 2023, to just 2,960. This is down from a peak of 5,360 in 2015. Last year’s figures showed a slight increase of 4% but this was marginal, considering a fall of 17% during the previous pandemic year. The number of adoptions in England has not returned to pre pandemic levels, which were relatively stable at around 3,500. 

This sits against a backdrop of a rise in the number of children being placed into the care of local authorities– up by 2% this year, to a peak of 83,840.  

In addition, the latest quarterly data shows a decline in the proportion of children adopted who are considered ‘harder to place’ including black children, those with disabilities, sibling groups and children over five, and an increase in the proportion of these children waiting to be placed with adoptive families.  

Whilst the number of Special Guardianship Orders (SGO) has also declined slightly by 2% to 3,840; more children are leaving care via a SGO than an adoption order.  

New government data reveals children waiting longer in care before being adopted

by Taboola

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