Over 9% Rise in Children Finding a Loving Home
The annual rates of adoptions in England and Wales have rose by almost 10 per cent between 2011 and 2012, new figures from the Office for National Statistics have confirmed.
The increase represents the highest annual rate of adoption since figures started being compiled fifteen years ago. The statistics show that approximately 5,200 children have found a loving home during 2012, which indicates a 9.8 percent rise from the previous year.
Priority in adoption has been given to toddlers. Almost 3,200 of the children that have been adopted were aged between one and four, the highest number recorded for this age group over the past four decades. Comparatively, the number of children aged from 10 to 14 adopted last year went as low as 434, and was the lowest figure registered since 1976.
Newborns have not been so fortunate either. Only 113 babies up to twelve months have been offered a family, but that still represented an improvement since the previous year, when the number of adoptions among newborns was 76.
The Office for National Statistics acknowledged that it was extremely likely “the increased number of adoptions in 2012 could be a consequence of the recent drive to improve the adoptions process in England and in Wales.”
An Action Plan for Adoption has been released in March 2012, which stated that local authorities should speed up their process of putting children on the register for prospective parents, and reduce the waiting time for adoption to six months.
In May 2012, the Government said they would offer each local authority a score card which would rate the effectiveness and professionalism they demonstrate in each adoption case.
The Department for Education has been working closely with adoption agencies, whom they urged to refer prospective adopters to the Adoption Register within three months of approval. The DfE had also worked towards a faster approval rate, as a measure to speed up the adoption process.
The decision followed a report published last year in which the DfE announced they were “determined to see more children considered for adoption, particularly those that were previously overlooked.”
In a recent interview, Hugh Thornbery, chief executive of the Adoption UK charity, highlighted the positive outcomes of an adoption: “It is encouraging the number of adoption orders increased in 2012. Adoption offers positive outcomes for children from the care system, providing them with a permanent family that many of them might not have if they remained in the care system.”
He insisted that continuous support needed to be provided to each new prospective parent: “We need to remain committed to recruiting more adoptive parents, but it is important to remember that any focus on recruiting adopters must go hand-in-hand with good support packages, both to encourage new adopters and ensure the long-term success of adoptive placements.”
According to a spokeswoman, the Department for Education welcomes “any rise in the rate of adoption. In England, too many children are waiting too long for loving, stable families- especially those children whom we know can be hardest to place.”
“We are overhauling the system – simplifying the process for parents who want to adopt and giving them clear, independent information about adopting in one place,” she added. “We have also been clear that we expect councils to recruit more adopters and provide children with loving homes swiftly.”