Michael Gove is certainly not my favourite Secretary of State, but today he excelled himself. He’s issued local authorities with new guidelines that warn that race should not delay placing a child with a suitable family of a different ethnicity.
The new guidance will state that as long as prospective adopters show that they are able to care for the child then race should not be a factor. Hurray! Hurray! Hurray! This guidance is long overdue. There have been literally thousands of children who have been denied the chance of adoption because they are not from the same ethnic background as the prospective parents.
Michael Gove was adopted and I’m sure he is anxious to see that more children get opportunity of being brought up in a caring, loving home, as he was.
However, he needs to do more. Adoption is still a long, drawn out process. This needs to change. It is absolutely vital that adoption takes place as early as possible in a child’s life and that the system delivers this. The later children are put up for adoption the less likely they are to find parents who will adopt them. All too soon children in care become institutionalised and develop behavioural problems because they don’t get the care and nurture they need. 25% of adoptions fail primarily because the adoption takes place too late on in the child’s life.
There appears to be far too little transparency about how the local authority adoption agencies operate, and how efficient they are. Apparently they are judged on how adoption cases proceed after a child has been placed, not on how many children they fail to place. This needs to be rectified promptly. There are also far too many rumours of ridiculous bureaucracy and ‘politically correct attitudes’ to be ignored.
The fact remains that there are 80,000 children in care in the UK. The number of children who are adopted each year is approximately 3,750. This is a derisory figure. There must be a concerted effort to increase the number of children who are adopted each year and reduce the number of children in care. 25% of our current prison population have been in care. 30% of children in custody are in care. This says it all doesn’t it? If we are ever going to do something about our unequal society, this is a very good place to start.