Cameron seeks rapid and radical adoption reform Skip to main content

Cameron seeks rapid and radical adoption reform

The Times

Radical reform of the ailing adoption system will enable local authorities to be stripped of their duties if they fail to meet new standards, the Prime Minister has told The Times.

A Green Paper detailing new “floor standards”, similar to those issued to schools for their exam results, will set out the minimum proportion of children that should be adopted from care each year. It will also impose time limits on the process.

Any council that consistently fails to meet the standards will be compelled to contract out its adoption service to a more successful local authority or a charity, increasing its risk of suffering funding cuts and job losses. The failing councils will be “named and shamed” when data is published.

David Cameron set out his plans in an interview with The Times, which has been campaigning for reforms to the system, to mark the beginning of National Adoption Week. He commended the newspaper’s “enormously persuasive” efforts to increase the number of adoptions from its present ten-year low, calling it a “spur to action”.

“I see it as similar to Michael Gove’s intolerance of education failure,” he said. “We should be equally intolerant of social services failure in this area, even if it is for the best of motives.”

He also applauded the work of Martin Narey, the former chief executive of Barnardo’s, who wrote a landmark report on adoption for The Times in July.

Many of the reforms that Mr Cameron proposes are recommendations made by Mr Narey, who has recently been appointed a ministerial adviser. Transparent data on the performance of local authorities will be published each year, the first real scrutiny that councils have faced in this area.

Young children will be a particular focus. Only 60 babies under 12 months old were adopted in the year to March, compared with 150 in 2007, despite solid evidence that the younger a child is adopted, the better the outcome. There are 3,660 babies under a year old in the care system.

An innovative programme that places babies removed from their families with prospective adopters rather than foster parents should also become the norm. The programme, known as concurrent planning to minimise disruption, should be considered in particular for babies whose siblings have already been removed and taken into care, or whose parents have addictions to drugs or alcohol.

Reform of the family justice system, to cut the average wait for children to be adopted from two years and seven months, is also due later this week.

David Norgrove, former chairman of the Pensions Regulator, is likely to recommend that care proceedings take a maximum of six months when he presents his review. Some can take as long as 14 months.

Mr Cameron said it was clear, from what he had heard from constituents who had tried to adopt and from what he had seen in the data, that the system was in crisis.

“When you look at your own anecdotal evidence, what you have seen with your own eyes, this is an area that needs to be reformed and reformed rapidly,” he said. “It does require an element of radicalism. We have to be a little bit less sensitive to some of the perceived problems.”

He said that the reforms would come in two stages. “First, we set out clear information about different councils’ performance — educational attainment of children in care, placement stability, the proportion of children adopted, timeliness of adoption.

“Second, those who consistently fall below the floor are the ones where you say, ‘I am sorry, but you are not running your services properly, children are not getting what they need and we are getting another organisation to run it for you’.”

Powers to remove particular duties from underperforming councils were already in place, he noted, and had been used to outsource education and children’s social services. “This is simple local government reform and it doesn’t need legislation. We will consult and explain the extent of our ambitions in the Green Paper and I recognise that it will mean difficult decisions in the future.”

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Chronology of the Press in Burma

1836 – 1846 * During this period the first English-language newspaper was launched under British-ruled Tenasserim, southern  Burma . The first ethnic Karen-language and Burmese-language newspapers also appear in this period.     March 3, 1836 —The first English-language newspaper,  The Maulmain Chronicle , appears in the city of Moulmein in British-ruled Tenasserim. The paper, first published by a British official named E.A. Blundell, continued up until the 1950s. September 1842 —Tavoy’s  Hsa-tu-gaw  (the  Morning Star ), a monthly publication in the Karen-language of  Sgaw ,  is established by the Baptist mission. It is the first ethnic language newspaper. Circulation reached about three hundred until its publication ceased in 1849. January 1843 —The Baptist mission publishes a monthly newspaper, the Christian  Dhamma  Thadinsa  (the  Religious Herald ), in Moulmein. Supposedly the first Burmese-language newspaper, it continued up until the first year of the second Angl

Thai penis whitening trend raises eyebrows

Image copyright LELUXHOSPITAL Image caption Authorities warn the procedure could be quite painful A supposed trend of penis whitening has captivated Thailand in recent days and left it asking if the country's beauty industry is taking things too far. Skin whitening is nothing new in many Asian countries, where darker skin is often associated with outdoor labour, therefore, being poorer. But even so, when a clip of a clinic's latest intriguing procedure was posted online, it quickly went viral. Thailand's health ministry has since issued a warning over the procedure. The BBC Thai service spoke to one patient who had undergone the treatment, who told them: "I wanted to feel more confident in my swimming briefs". The 30-year-old said his first session of several was two months ago, and he had since seen a definite change in the shade. 'What for?' The original Facebook post from the clinic offering the treatment, which uses lasers to break do

Myanmar Villagers Tell of 150 Homes Burned in Deadly Army Air Attacks

Artillery fire and aerial bombardments by Myanmar forces killed three civilians and burned scores of houses in their communities in mid-March amid fighting between Myanmar forces and the rebel Arakan Army in war-ravaged Rakhine state, villagers recounted Monday at a press conference. Villagers from Kyauktaw township in western Myanmar's Rakhine state discuss the government military's attacks on their communities at press conference in Sittwe, March 30, 2020. They made the comments after traveling from in Kyauktaw township to the state capital Sittwe to give testimony on a series of attacks on civilian dwellings amid a government-imposed internet shutdown in nine townships in Rakhine and neighboring Chin state, cutting off vital information about the fighting. They villagers accused the Myanmar Army of conducting an aerial bombing on civilian communities that destroyed about 150 homes and a monastery in Pyaing Taing village, while government soldiers on the g