The Education Secretary has announced nearly £650,000 will be invested in Regional Adoption Agencies (RAAs) as part of a Government drive to find more adoptive parents.
The Government will have a special focus on finding adopters for harder to place children, such as older children, siblings, children from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background and those with special educational needs.
Children from BAME communities often wait longer to be placed because there is a shortage of prospective adopters from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Research by the children’s charity Home for Good found that while BAME adults are twice as likely to have considered, or be considering adoption, compared to white adults, they are also five times more likely than white adults to report uncertainty about adoption because friends, family or their community would not approve.
It is hoped targeted digital campaigns and work with black churches and mosques will increase the number of people from BAME communities looking to adopt.
Dr Sue Armstrong Brown, chief executive of Adoption UK, said: ‘No child should be waiting in care because of the colour of their skin or their religion. Above all, children need families. Interracial adoption can be successful and produce great outcomes for children.
‘But while we should not prioritise ethnicity over the other needs of a child, there is no need for colour blindness. There are obvious benefits to placing a child, who is already wrestling with issues around their identity, with a family that looks like them and is well-placed to support their culture and heritage.’
The new funding will allow RAAs to work together on recruiting more adopters across the country, including those areas in which local authorities are not yet in an RAA. According to the Department for Education (DfE), RAAs are now live in 70 per cent of the country.
Speaking at Coram for National Adoption Week, which runs until 20 October, the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, said: ‘In recent years, the trend that concerns us all is the disparity between numbers of children awaiting adoption and adoptive families ready to take them. This is a trend that must change and I want to do everything I can to help you do that.
‘We have cut the average time between a child entering care and being placed with a family by seven months since 2012. It’s now down to 14 months. Obviously, there is still substantial room for improvement. It still takes too long and not all adoptive families receive the support they need. But we’re definitely going in the right direction.’
Dr Carol Homden, chief executive of Coram, added: ‘The availability of consistent and timely post-adoption support is crucial in encouraging prospective adopters to come forward, and we hope the funding boost announced today will enable the recruitment of a wide range of adopters, and help all adoptive families to thrive.’
Gavin Williamson also pledged further funding for the Adoption Support Fund, which local authorities and RAAs can apply to for therapeutic funding for eligible adoptive families. Up to £2,500 can be awarded per child per year for specialist assessment, and £5,000 per child per year for therapy.
Therapies on offer range from cognitive therapy, to play and music therapy, and family support sessions. The DfE said the fund has already helped over 40,000 families.