New Adoption Laws Aim to Speed up Placements, But at What Cost?


This week it was released that the government plans to make it a legal requirement for councils to prioritise the "long-term stability and happiness" of children. These "urgent" rules wish to see children placed with families that can provide a stable home until the child's 18th birthday.

Children should be a priority

It's anticipated that the upshot of these rules will be a rise in adoptions in the hope of reducing the number of children coming in and out of care.

Is Prioritising Adoption The Right Solution?

The government's view that adoption is the solution to family care issues is not shared by all; some critics are concerned that other recourses that are more appropriate may be side lined. Kevin Williams, Chief Executive of The Fostering Network, said in response to the government announcement:

"While adoption can be the best option for some children, for the vast majority of children in care other permanency options will better meet their needs."

Another concern is that a focus on adoption could see Local Authorities overlooking appropriate family members that a child could be placed with. A poll by Populus for charity Family Rights Group found that 87% of the public think that, if a child isn't able to live with parents, wider family should be considered first.

The Child's Best Interests Must Come First

Helen Doolan, Family Law Solicitor at Simpson Millar's Leeds office, reiterates that it is the best interests of the child that must be put first:

"The driving factor has always got to be to ensure we are doing what is in the child's best interests. Whilst in some cases this may well be a permanent "forever family" and the long term security that adoption brings, this always has to be balanced against the advantages that children have in being brought up by their birth families."

"The current time limit ensuring the completion of care proceedings within 26 weeks save for in exceptional circumstances has done much for improving situations where children were spending too long awaiting decisions on their future."

Legal Help During Care Proceedings

Our Family Law team at Simpson Millar are experts in all aspects of care proceedings cases. Care matters often need more than a 'one size fits all' approach; our team are best placed for taking on a personalised, understanding approach to the sensitive issues involved.

You can get in touch with our Care Proceedings Solicitors if you need straightforward support with any care issues and public children matters.

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