PM unveils foster for adoption plan
David Cameron is to announce plans to radically speed up the amount of time it takes to place children with potential adopters.
Youngsters will be able to move in with their possible future permanent families before lengthy legal procedures are finalised, the Prime Minister will reveal.
Mr Cameron hopes the Fostering For Adoption scheme will give children a better start in life by ensuring they have a stable home as quickly as possible.
Under the plans, men and women who have been cleared as adopters can become a child's foster parent until they are legally allowed to adopt them. Now, local authorities generally wait until court orders are made before beginning their search for a permanent home.
The move will not pre-empt any legal ruling, meaning the youngsters could be returned to their birth parents or other carers. But the Government hopes it will mean the interests of the children are put first.
New analysis shows that of the babies put into care aged under one month, half were eventually adopted, but it took an average of more than 15 months for them to move in with their permanent family.
Mr Cameron said: "Children's needs must be at the very heart of the adoption process - it's shocking that we have a system where 50% of one-month-old babies who come to the care system go on to be adopted but wait 15 months to be placed in a permanent, loving home."
Education Secretary Michael Gove, who was adopted, said: "I want as many babies as possible to have the best start in life. I know that stable and loving families provide the ideal environment for young people to achieve their full potential. My hope is that children don't have to move again and again before finding a permanent home."
Jonathan Pearce, chief executive of Adoption UK, said: "New initiatives that offer children in care the chance of both earlier placement with their adoptive parents and fewer moves in care has to be welcomed, as we know so much about the damage caused to children through delay in finding stable and permanent families.
"The proposals for England need to address some of the practice issues that are already known about, as well as provide some more detail on how the system will work in practice, particularly the support arrangements for prospective adopters and how adoption pay and leave arrangements will need to be adjusted. In essence, this new initiative can only truly work if all the details are smoothed out and proper support is put in place for adopters."