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Some Statistics on Adoption

November 15, 2012

I thought I’d post some encouraging stats from BAAF.  Still a long way to go but ……

 

BAAF statement on the latest national statistics on children looked after by local authorities in England produced by the Department for Education

BAAF is pleased to see that the number of children adopted from care in the year April 2011 – March 2012 increased by 12% from 3,050 to 3,450, the highest figure since 2007. (Visit http://www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s001084/index.shtml for details). It is very important to understand these statistics because they can help us to predict future trends in adoption.

This headline statistic of 3,450 children adopted from care measures the number of children who were the subject of an Adoption Order by a court during the year in question. Typically the court will make an Order some 9 months after a child first goes to live with their new adoptive family. As such the statistic measures the very end of the adoption process and is not the best indicator of current adoption practice.

To get a better sense of what is happening in adoption now we need to focus on the statistic, also released today, of the number of children placed for adoption during the year. That statistic shows a very slight decrease in the numbers of children placed for adoption during the year from 2,710 in 2010/11 to 2,680 in 2011/12. From experience we think this means that the significant increase we have seen in numbers adopted will be sustained next year but is unlikely to increase further.

Our focus now has to be on increasing the number of children placed for adoption. We know that currently there are at least 2,000 children in foster care with a plan for adoption who are not in an adoptive placement. This is in large part because of a chronic shortage of adopters for particular groups of children, e.g. children in sibling groups, older children, children with disabilities, etc. If we could find adopters for those children who are waiting we would see further substantial increases in adoption over the next few years and this could only increase the impact of the Government’s welcome adoption reform programme.

The latest statistics provide an encouraging base on which to build. To make further progress, we need to see a concerted whole system focus on increasing adopter recruitment, speeding up court processes, improving the adopter assessment process and ensuring adoption support. We know that adoption works and we owe it to every child who has a plan for adoption to realise that plan for them without delay. BAAF looks forward to continuing to do everything it can to help the Government’s adoption reform programme to succeed.

BAAF also notes the very significant year-on year increase in the numbers of children who were the subject of Special Guardianship Orders – a 20% increase in a single year. This figure does need to be seen in the context of the increase in adoptions and shows that the number of children achieving permanence through these different routes increased substantially year on year. As ever we have to consider all these statistics in the context of a rising care population.

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