Jonathan Werran 06 March 2013

Councils urged to improve post-adoption support

Local authorities should be legally obliged to give parents and children in adoptive families support after arrangements have been made, a group of peers have urged today.

A report issued by the House of Lords Committee on adoption legislation argues adoptive parents should have extra help to look after vulnerable children adopted from care - who might have suffered previous neglect and abuse.

But the government’s priority of sharply increasing the number of adoptions must not undermine efforts to keep birth families together, the peers warn.

Ministers must ensure the drive to boost the recruitment of potential adoptive parents would not block alternative routes to full time placements – such as special guardianship or kinship care – in cases where adoption might not be the most appropriate solution.

Committee chairman, Baroness Butler-Sloss said post-adoption support is the most pressing issue and expressed concerns its provision is often variable and inadequate.

‘We recommend a statutory duty on local authorities and other service commissioning bodies to ensure the provision of post-adoption support,’ Baroness Butler-Sloss said. ‘Inevitably there will be concerns about resourcing this support, but calculations of cost need to take into account the significant amount of money which local authorities save when a child is adopted from care, she added.

In response, Debbie Jones, president of the association of directors of children’s services said local authorities are working hard to drive up the number of adopters they recruit to meet current and future demand.

‘Adoption disruption and breakdown could be prevented by providing families with importance post-adoption support including access to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), health services and educational support, yet placing a statutory duty on local authorities without providing adequate resourcing will not improve the support available to families,’ Jones said.

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