Skip to main content


Volume 565: debated on Monday 24 June 2013

I am determined to reform the adoption system to reduce delay for children. One of our most pressing priorities is increasing the number of approved adopters. We have already launched the First4Adoption telephone and online service to provide information to all potential adopters and published the adoption passport, and we are bringing in a quicker two-stage adopter approvals process from 1 July.

My constituent Helen Holgate is a respected and experienced foster carer, but she still tells me that there are considerable court delays during the concurrency process. What steps is the Minister taking to improve the concurrent care process so that children can be placed permanently and more swiftly with a loving family on a full-time, permanent basis?

First, I would like to pay tribute to Helen Holgate and all the other fantastic foster carers helping many vulnerable children in our country. We are working towards streamlining the approval process for foster carers. On court proceedings, through the Children and Families Bill, we are introducing fostering for adoption rules to ensure that children are placed earlier with prospective adopters, and with the work of the Family Justice Board, we are helping to strip out unnecessary delays in care proceedings. As a result, the average length of a care case has already been reduced from 57 to 42.2 weeks.

What more does the Minister think local government should be doing to support foster carers who, according to the Fostering Network, feel unsupported and often take in children when they do not feel quite prepared to do so?

With the Fostering Network and many other fostering charities, we have developed some excellent training materials for foster carers, to provide them with the support that they need. This will make them feel confident that they are in control of the placement, with the day-to-day decisions such as whether children get their hair cut or go on a sleepover being delegated to them. This will also help the children to feel that they have a normal family existence while they are in a foster care arrangement.

One of the many myths surrounding adoption relates to the age of prospective adopters. We want anyone who is interested in adopting to come forward and use the new adoption gateway, which is the easy way of getting the information and advice that they need. We do not want to put people off adopting; we want to welcome them with open arms and do all that we can to support them in providing children with the homes they desperately need.