Local authorities could soon be forced to merge their adoption services, under government powers set to be unveiled in the Queen’s Speech today.
The new law, contained in the proposed schools and adoption bill, will oblige councils to combine their services to increase and speed up adoption rates.
Councils will have two years to join together services under their own steam, after which ministers will have the power to force ‘failing’ authorities to take action.
Too small and localised
Although no barriers prevent councils from working together, ministers believe adoption is currently happening, “at too small and localised a scale”, with evidence showing councils tend to concentrate their efforts locally when looking for adopters.
By working together, ministers hope the choice of potential matches for a child will increase significantly and permanent families will be found sooner.
Children’s minister Edward Timpson said: “By coming together and joining forces, councils can make sure more children are matched with families far quicker – regardless of where they live.”
‘Greatest step change in a generation’
Local authorities will be encouraged to identify their own regional approach that would see them merge their adoption services under one system, or outsource delivery of their adoption functions into a single regional agency.
The Department for Education (DfE) confirmed the government will provide financial and practical support for local authorities and adoption agencies to help them bring their services together regionally.
Doing so would implement the, “greatest step change in the way children are matched for adoption in a generation”, the DfE stated.
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