Question Time — Scottish Executive – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 27th March 2003.

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Photo of Janis Hughes Janis Hughes Labour 2:30 pm, 27th March 2003

To ask the Scottish Executive what action it will take to improve adoption levels. (S1O-6731)

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

The Executive is committed to improving the life chances of looked-after children. Phase 1 of our adoption policy review recommended improvements in the recruitment of prospective adopters, post-adoption support and decision-making processes. Phase 2 of the review, which I announced last week, will examine the legal options to provide stability and security for children, whether through adoption or other forms of permanent placement.

Photo of Janis Hughes Janis Hughes Labour

Does the minister agree that one of the most difficult aspects of the adoption procedure is the length of time that it takes. Will she assure me that the review will consider speeding up the procedure, to lessen the anxiety caused to prospective adoptive parents?

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

I am aware, from correspondence from a number of colleagues and representations made by adoptive parents, that one of the difficulties is the length of time that the processes can take. I am therefore committed to ensuring that the review will examine that. It is also important to recognise that, from the child's point of view, we must ensure that the processes meet their needs, particularly where young children are involved.

Photo of Lyndsay McIntosh Lyndsay McIntosh Conservative

Does the minister agree, particularly in the light of this morning's debate, that older, more mature couples would be welcome to apply for adoption and that our chosen children deserve the opportunity of a better home?

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

I would certainly like us to ensure that the prospective adopters are matched with the needs of individual children. Many children who are currently looked after in the system and who could benefit from adoptive parents are slightly older than the children whom people would traditionally look to adopt. I would encourage anyone who thinks that they could offer a home to those children to make the inquiries and consider it seriously.