Blair joins move to ease adoptions

27 Apr 00
The government is aiming to bring about up to 1,000 extra adoptions a year, with Prime Minister Tony Blair weighing in with a plea for a national register.

28 April 2000

Health service professionals were called to a meeting in Downing Street on April 25 with health minister John Hutton to discuss the government's plans.

There are 2,400 children in England awaiting adoption, and around 1,300 families approved for adoption who have not yet been matched with any of those children.

Hutton told the meeting that the government intends to strip away layers of bureaucracy to make it easier for the children to find good homes quickly. He said the key issues were the need for national standards on adoption and a clear understanding of what was required of prospective parents.

At present, local authorities use differing criteria to assess whether prospective parents are suitable for adoption.

Hutton hinted that restrictions on older couples may be relaxed. 'We can't go on as we are,' he said. 'The present system is failing too many children.' But he said decisions on increased spending would not be made until the Comprehensive Spending Review in July.

'I am quite hopeful we will get more money,' said Felicity Collier, chief executive of the British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering, after the meeting. 'Everybody recognised that adoption – especially of vulnerable, disabled or disturbed children – is not a cheap option.'

Blair, whose wife Cherie is expecting their fourth child soon, says in a magazine interview to be published in May: 'We need a national register to co-ordinate all those wanting to adopt with all the available children and we need targets for councils.'


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