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Children in Care: Adoption

Education written question – answered on 20th July 2011.

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Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Conservative, Gosport

To ask the Secretary of State for Education what steps he plans to take to increase the likelihood of children in care being adopted into stable families.

Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

holding answer 19 July 2011

I am determined to see more children in care adopted, where this is in their best interests and the best possible support given to adoptive families to help ensure the success and permanence of adoptions. I want to see more children considered for adoption who in the past may have been overlooked—children who are older or have disabilities or very complex needs. I particularly want local authorities to consider carefully their matching and placement practice in respect of black and minority ethnic children who often wait much longer than others.

That is why I have recently appointed Martin Narey, former chief executive of Barnardo's, as Ministerial Adviser on Adoption. He will visit individual local authorities to identify and share good practice, and challenge poorer practices, especially for those children who are often overlooked for adoption—older children, disabled children—or who can face significant delay, such as black children. I have published his full remit on the Department for Education website:

http://www.education.gov.uk/childrenandyoungpeople/families/adoption/a00192226/martin-narey-appointed-as-ministerial-adviser-on-adoption

I set up last year a ministerial advisory group on adoption to help steer my wider programme of reform. In November I wrote to directors of children's services and lead members emphasising the importance of adoption and of reducing delays in the adoption process. I subsequently published revised statutory adoption guidance, and an Adoption Data Pack which highlights the variations between local authorities. I have also hosted a number of roundtable events with adoptive parents, adopted children, judges, directors of children's services and adoption panels to take their views about where change is needed.

The Department also provides grant funding to the British Association for Adoption and Fostering to promote adoption, including through National Adoption Week and National Exchange Days, and to the Coram Foundation and Barnardo's to support local authorities in improving their adoption outcomes. I have also approved funding to extend the Multi-dimensional Treatment Foster Care programme (an evidence-based intervention programme for children in care) to adopted children and families.

All of this is within the wider context of the work the Government are undertaking to improve outcomes for vulnerable children and families. This includes action following the Munro Review of Child Protection and the work of the Family Justice Review.

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