I am pleased that in an article (£) for The Times this morning the Labour MP Toby Perkins, the Shadow Minister for Children and Families, has backed the appointment of Martin Narey as the Government's adoption adviser with the brief to remove barriers to adoption.
He recounts his personal experience:
Some authorities are slow or reluctant to place children with new parents; others put a greater priority on recruiting adopters and finding homes for children. This was certainly borne out by our experiences.
Initial inquiries to our local authority, Derbyshire, were very discouraging. Less pushy parents would have given up at this first hurdle. Fortunately, my wife is persistent, and she contacted other local authorities; Sheffield City Council was much more positive and helped to get us approved as prospective adopters. The process with Sheffield took 18 months, twice as long as expected, partly because our social worker went on sick leave. After we were approved, we then waited for several further months in silence.
This was when Derbyshire was under Labour control. It was gained by the Conservatives in 2009. It would be nice to be able to make a partisan point and be able to state that political correctness and obstructive bureaucratic delays have been eliminated. I fear however it is more likely that the problems persist.
Perkins comment that ethnicity "should be considered in the matching process – but only as one factor, not the overriding concern" sounds reasonable enough. But unless legal teeth are given to prevent any delay for placements on grounds of ethnicity we will not make progress. If social workers are allowed to pursue their deeply entrenched ideological prejudices then they will. This is not because they are bad people – such political correctness is a force of habit and something instilled in social worker training. Mushy vague guidance to the contrary will be ignored.
Perkins is also muddled in suggesting the the "cuts" will be a reason for foot dragging over adoption. The average cost of keeping a child in care is £774 a week. Placing them for adoption kakes them out of the care system. It means lower not higher public spending.