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Adoption shake-up hailed in Lancashire
4:00pm Tuesday 25th December 2012 in By Bill Jacobs, Local government reporter
EAST Lancashire’s children’s services bosses have welcomed a proposed overhaul of the adoption system to make it swifter and more robust.
They will be checking over the details of the government plan in the New Year to ensure it helps provide vulnerable children with the families they need and deserve.
Blackburn with Darwen’s Maureen Bateson and Lancashire county council’s Susie Charles spoke after ministers revealed proposals to give would-be adoptive parents more encouragement and support and let those approved see the register of children waiting for adoption.
The British Association for Adoption and Fostering said it "warmly welcomed" the announcement.
The number of children approved for adoption rose from 3,000 in 2010 to more than 4,000 in 2012 but there are still 4,000 in care who are waiting.
Children's minister Edward Timpson said up to 25,000 people enquired about adopting each year, but thousands ended up being deterred by the process and delays. More than 50 are now being considered for adoption through Blackburn with Darwen borough, significantly more than last year.
County coun Charles - responsible for adoption in Ribble Valley, Hyndburn, Rossendale, Burnley, Pendle and Chorley - said: “I welcome anything that makes the adoption process simpler and quicker but we have to ensure that children needing adoption get the families they deserve and the process remains rigorous.
“These changes sound good and sensible but we will be examining them very carefully.”
Coun Bateson said: “I welcome the majority of these proposals. Blackburn with Darwen does provide a lot of post-adoption support and these plans will make that available nationally. The most important thing remains getting the right people for the right children.”
The overhaul will give prospective adopters a new right to time off work to meet children they are due to adopt, while adoptive parents of two-year-olds will get 15 hours a week free nursery care.
There will also be financial support for "adoption activity days" - where prospective parents can meet children waiting for adoption.
The plans follow other measures already in the pipeline to allow new adoptive parents as much leave as new biological parents plus a telephone helpline and website.
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