Adoption figures fall

Adoption Leadership figures reveal a decrease in the number of children adopted from care

Published on 28th August 2017

The number of children adopted from care has fallen, official statistics have shown.

Data from the Adoption Leadership Board reveals that there were 1,060 children adopted in quarter 2 2016-17, a small decrease from 1,070 in the first quarter 2016-17.

In 2015-16, there were 4,690 adoptions during the year, an increase of 35% from 2011-12, although this was a decrease of 12% from 2014-15.

The figures also showed:

  • Registrations to become an adopter have increased by 8% from 740 in quarter 1 2016-17 to 800 in quarter 2 2016-17.
  • The number of adopter families approved for adoption has decreased slightly from 710 in quarter 1 2016-17 to 700 in quarter 2 2016-17.
  • The recent estimate for the “adopter gap” suggests that the gap has closed, and there are now more adoptive families than children waiting.
  • However, there were still 1,770 children with a placement order not yet matched and the relevance of this measure assumes that matching is working effectively.

The ALB data also revealed that the time taken between a child entering care and being placed with a family for children who have been adopted has decreased by 4 months since 2012-13, from 22 months to 18 months in 2015-16.

However, he latest quarterly data suggests adopter timeliness for local authorities has been declining. In quarter 2 2013-14, 50% of approvals made by local authorities were made within six months of registration, while in quarter 2 2016-17 this had decreased to 29% of approvals. Although, this was an improvement on the 25% low in quarter 4 2014-15.

The timeliness of matches has declined. In quarter 4 2013-14, 80% of matches were made within six months of approval, compared to 43% in quarter 2 2016-17.

Adoption UK chief executive Dr Sue Armstrong Brown said: “The fact that children are spending less time in care before being adopted is really encouraging. We know that the sooner children find permanence in their adoptive home, back with their birth families, or in long-term care plans, the better their outcomes.

She warned that a close eye should be kept on the time it is taking to approve adopters, and gain a better understanding of why it is taking relatively longer to gain approved adopter status now, than it was in 2013/14.

Adoption UK is also concerned about a decline in the recruitment of potential adopters. Dr Armstrong Brown continued: “This autumn the number of children needing an adoptive home may outnumber those coming forward to provide that home. Clearly we need to do more to recruit potential adopters, as well as speed up approvals, whilst retaining the rigorous assessment that's part of that process.”

The fall in the number of children being adopted and the fact that the number of new placement orders has almost halved from 1,630 between July and September 2013, to 830 in the same period of 2016 are likely to be linked to the impact of the September 2013 Re B-S judgement. This indicated that local authorities need to show the courts that all alternatives to adoption were considered before seeking an adoption order, Dr Armstrong Brown concluded.

ALB figures are available here

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