PM leads adoption push against councils

By Alex Stevenson

Councils which are failing to deal with adoption cases quickly are to be embarrassed into action.

Town halls will be forced to publish statistics showing their adoption rates, how adopted children are doing in school and other key figures revealing how well they are meeting their responsibilities towards adopted children.

The move is the centrepiece of a campaign, Give A Child A Home, launched by the prime minister to boost adoption and fostering in Britain.

"It is shocking that of the 3,600 children under the age of one in care, only 60 were adopted last year – this is clearly not good enough," David Cameron said.

"So we will publish data on how every local authority is performing to ensure they are working quickly enough to provide the safe and secure family environment every child deserves."

Latest figures show a "further decline in adoption from care", the British Association for Adoption and Fostering noted last month. But it has said it remains "optimistic" and expects increases in the next two years.

Mr Cameron believes much more needs to be done. Children now face an average wait of two years and seven months before they are adopted.

"We need more people to think about fostering and adoption so this National Adoption Week I would encourage anyone who is considering adoption to find out more about whether they could provide a home for a child," the prime minister added.

"People who foster and adopt make a fantastic difference to a child's life and there are children waiting for families right now."

The government is set to publish a green paper outlining minimum standards which each local authority must meet. Councils who do not succeed could find their adoption responsibilities transferred to a neighbouring, higher-performing local authority.

The green paper will follow the publication of the final findings of a review conducted by David Norgrove into adoption and fostering.

His interim report recommended that adoption timetables should be set on a case-by-case basis for each child, with a maximum set of six months.