KEY ISSUES FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT - Clause 1 Family Support and balance of rights

Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 20 November 2001.

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Clause 1 (4) (a) refers to having regard to the wishes and feelings of the child. Children should have the right to consent to adoption and to be made a party to the proceedings. The value of contingency, concurrent and parallel planning should be recognised in the Bill and in the adoption standards. (See attached example.) There are real concerns about targets which may rush agencies into placing children for adoption when the best plan, in accordance with the wishes of the child, may be to work with the birth family to enable them to care for their child. The Government's target is to increase by 40% (preferably by 50%) the number of looked after children adopted and in legally secure placements. The objective is families for life but failed adoption is a catastrophic disaster for the child, which will scar for life.

There should be a clear link to case law under the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act. A higher threshold should be applied to removing a child from its birth family to be adopted than for the making of a care order. There must also be safeguards for children where contact with a violent parent is a serious child protection issue. The LGA also seeks good access to courts for families.