By Connie Osborne Friday 15 March 2013 Updated: 15/03 08:15
A REVIEW of the county’s adoption process has found there is too much red tape and delays in the system.
Coun Barry Gandy, who led the review, also called for more to be done to increase the number of adopters, including from minority groups.
As of March last year there were 60 children in the county waiting for adoption. During the 12 month investigation the group found the average time it took a child to be placed with an adoptive family was 617 days - which is just under the Government’s current target.
The group made 13 recommendations including uncovering why there were delays in receiving reports, improving communication between social workers and increased promotion of fostering for adoption.
Coun Gandy said the Government was beginning to crack down on the issue of timely adoption and were proposing to remove adoption services from councils they deemed to be underperforming.
But he added the adoption process could often take longer than expected to find a child the best possible home.
“If a child is taken away from their birth parents social workers have to decide whether that child could go back to them with help.
“They then have to look to see if there is a person in the wider family, such as an aunt, who could also have them. The decision is then to put that child forward for adoption.”
He said if a child was to be adopted, the process had to go through the courts before finding a suitable adopter and this could often be a lengthy process with larger case loads.
Adoption of siblings, expert reports, the initial assessment and assessment of adopters further added to the delay.
“It is often better to take longer and get it right than take a shorter amount of time and get it wrong.”
In the last year despite 36 children being successfully adopted only 29 applications from people wanting to become adoptive parents were received during the same period of time and seven applications were withdrawn.
“Sometime it’s babies, sometimes it’s children aged 6 or 7 who need a great deal of love and care to get them back on track,” Coun Gandy added.
“We have children coming into care from a huge variety of backgrounds. We have children who are Polish and therefore it would be ideal if people from the Polish community came forward.”
Gail Quinton, director of children’s services for Worcestershire County Council, welcomed the recommendations, adding some were already being implemented.
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