In-care Islington children being “failed” by borough’s poor adoption record

Aqua Sauna's licence will be decided at a meeting at Islington Town Hall on Monday.

Aqua Sauna's licence will be decided at a meeting at Islington Town Hall on Monday. - Credit: Archant

Children waiting to be adopted are being failed by Islington Council, it was claimed this week, after figures emerged showing the borough is among the worst for waiting times.

cllr richard watts islington council

cllr richard watts islington council - Credit: Archant

On average, Islington children aged from 15 months to seven years wait 813 days to be given a happy new home after being placed in care – putting it in the worst category for waiting times (692 to 1,082 days).

Adoption problem: Alan Burnell, co-director of Family Futures, says more needs to be done to assist

Adoption problem: Alan Burnell, co-director of Family Futures, says more needs to be done to assist waiting times - Credit: Archant

The figures, released by the Department for Education, make grim reading for children waiting to be adopted, with only 14 having been given new parents last year (2012-13).

Alan Burnell, manager of Family Futures, an independent not for profit group supporting families in post and pre-adoption stages, said adoption waiting rates need to be improved.

He said: “The waiting times for Islington are too long.

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“They get quite a lot of applicants coming forward but haven’t got the staff to process them so it is not just about a lack of people coming forward.

“There is a lack of forward planning on the part of local authorities who can’t think outside of this year’s budget.

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“It has a detrimental effect to be in care in the first place. Many children have been traumatised by bad experiences and so spending an extra two or three years in care with all the uncertainty can add to the problem.

“They are told they will have a new home and are left waiting with the uncertainty, which sometimes results in them thinking maybe they’re not good enough or something is wrong with them.”

Delays are also being caused by local authorities which often want to achieve “ethnic matching”.

Mr Burnell added: “We have heard people say because of their background they can’t adopt. It is going to be hard to match people ethnically. It should be more about finding children families as soon as possible.”

About 300 children are currently in care in Islington, but not all will be adopted. Many will return to their families following council social worker decisions it is best for them to do so, or after a judge’s decision adoption would be inappropriate

A judge must first approve a child being added to the adoption list and again endorse their potential new parents in the family court.

Richard Watts, Islington Council’s cabinet member for children’s social services, claimed the government figures were “misleading” and that a year is often wasted on court time alone.

He said: “The figures are misleading because they are skewed by two particular cases where we have been acting in the best interests of the child, in that they were adopted in a timeframe that meant they didn’t look great in these tables.

“Furthermore, Ofsted inspections say our adoption services are good. However, I do strongly agree we need to speed up the pace of getting children adopted and the best thing is to get more families coming forward and I would appeal for more people to do so.”

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