Adopt Online; Internet used to boost adoption rates in UK
Families hoping to adopt will soon be able to browse for children online, under radical changes to the adoption system.
From early next year the pictures and profiles of some of the 6,000 children waiting for a home will be available on the internet for would-be parents to search through and select potential matches.
Previously, this process was carried out by social workers who decided on parents behalf which child was best suited to them.
The new plans - rolled out from today - will also see rules relaxed so prospective parents can check the waiting lists of neighbouring councils, whereas before they were limited to their local authority.
The new map-style system includes information for each local council area, such as the ratio of children in need to waiting adopters, approval rates and how long it takes to make matches.
Adoption UK chief executive Hugh Thornbery said the changes could make enduring difference for children who have had the worst possible start in life.
He said: 'We’ve seen a rise in adoptions this year, but we still need more adopters to provide loving homes for some of society’s most vulnerable children.
'We know that key to attracting more adopters is the assurance of accessible, timely and appropriate support.
'One of the board’s tasks will be to turn the Government’s aspirations for better adoption support into reality so that adoptive parents and their children receive the support they need to build strong families and bright futures.'
Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson said 'promising progress' was being made towards improving adoption rates but significantly more remained to be done.
An extra £50 million would be provided to local councils to improve services, he said.
'This Christmas I want anyone considering adoption to look carefully at the information in our interactive maps and consider whether they can offer a child a stable and loving home,' said the minister, who has two adopted brothers.
'There remains significant work to do next year.
Department for Education figures show a 34 per cent increase in adopters and adoptions up by a record 15 per cent following the implementation of reforms.
And Prime Minister David Cameron has said the issue is a personal priority.
David Simmonds, chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, added: 'Increased focus on improving adoption services is a positive move, but this isn’t new money.
'It represents a net reduction in funding for local authorities and could impact on services for vulnerable children. This could include early intervention services which can help councils identify children that could benefit from adoption at an early stage.
'Councils have been working hard to recruit more adoptive mums and dads and are doing everything in their power to ensure that vulnerable children get the best start in life.
'There has been a significant increase in the numbers of children placed in adoptive homes and councils have achieved a 32 per cent increase in the number of adopters approved in the last year.
'The fact remains that we still need thousands more potential adopters to come forward to offer loving homes.
'Councils also rightly acknowledge that there is variation in performance across the country and the LGA is working with the Government to help support improvement. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach and decisions must be made on what is in the best interests of each individual child.