A new analysis of adoption data has revealed a ‘significant disparity’ in child protection practices across the country.
Professor Andy Bilson of the University of Central Lancashire has found there was an almost four-fold increase in the number of five-year-old children who have been adopted or placed into special guardianship in England between 1999 and 2017.
Drawing on freedom of information responses from 70 local authorities in England, Professor Bilson also discovered that the rates of adoption varied with a 12-fold difference between the highest and lowest ranked local authorities.
Within 20 local authorities in particular, the rate of adoption decisions had increased from 41 to 80 per 10,000 between these years – an increase of 96%. Three of these more than doubled their rates of adoption decisions.
‘Analysis of Government figures on a national scale has revealed a large change in adoption rates over five years, but a more in-depth look into these statistics uncovers that these figures are also dramatically different between local authorities, and that high increases in adoption are accompanied by large increases in child protection investigations,’ said Professor Bilson.
‘This data suggests that government policy drives towards promoting adoption, combined with cuts to family support services, are impacting different local authorities in different ways.
‘The strength of these trends means that they will only continue in the future unless the Government balances its focus on promoting adoption with funding for families that may be struggling.’