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.
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.
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.