Education Secretary urges overhaul of current UK adoption system

Gavin Williamson calls for an end to ‘burdensome bureaucracy’ in adoption, marking National Adoption Week.

In a speech today, the Education Secretary has claimed the current system ‘places too high a burden on parents who want to adopt is making it harder for people who want to give a child a stable home’.

He claimed “too many lifestyle judgements” are made on potential adopters, with the consequence that there are not enough adoptive parents to go around. The shortfall is resulting in children being “bounced around the system” as they wait for a family, he added.

Figures published today show that there are currently around 2,400 children waiting for adoption but just over 1,800 approved adopters who are ready to give them a home.

Department for Education research shows that renters and potential adopters with a different ethnicity to children being considered for a permanent home. The Education Secretary warned that we must end an “obsession with finding the perfect ethnic match for children”, stating that there is no acceptable reason why adopters should be blocked from registering simply because there are no children of the same ethnicity waiting to be adopted.

The Government announced earlier this year that it would provide an extra £6.5m to councils and voluntary adoption agencies to help adoptive families facing stress amid the Covid-19 health crisis.

Williamson also announced a further £2.8m in funding for voluntary adoption agencies to ramp up the recruitment of adopters amid the pandemic.
Maggie Jones, Chief Executive of Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies, said:
“Voluntary Adoption Agencies (VAAs) across England are hugely grateful for the additional funding provided by Government in this difficult time. It has enabled us to continue our vital work supporting hundreds of adoptive families at a time of great stress and preparing new adoptive parents to provide forever, loving homes for many children who need them.
“VAAs provide a quarter of all adoptive placements and the choice they offer is particularly important for the Black and minority ethnic communities with whom we work. We really appreciate the confidence the Government has shown in VAAs and we will continue working with partners across the social care system to create positive futures for our most vulnerable children.”

Dr Krish Kandiah, Founding Director of Home for Good, said:
“We have been delighted to play our part in addressing the persistent racial disparity in adoption and are so encouraged to see a continued commitment to this critically important issue from the Secretary of State today. It has been our privilege at Home for Good to assist with training hundreds of social workers across the country in faith and cultural literacy and to pilot a new project helping to find adopters of Black children waiting for adoption.

“We are grateful for the funding that the Government has made available for this work. We recognise that lasting change is a marathon and not a sprint, so greatly look forward to working together to find a loving, safe and permanent family for every child who needs one.”

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