Service not hitting targets

PUBLISHED: 17:00 20 May 2012

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CHILDREN are having to wait too long to be adopted in North Somerset, according to figures released this week.

Youngsters have to wait an average of eight months longer than national guidelines suggest, to move in with adoptive parents after entering the care system.

North Somerset is also one of 72 authorities across the country that missed its target of matching a child to a family within seven months of a court order being made to do so – its figure stands at nearly eight months.

Less than half of youngsters in North Somerset are adopted within 21 months of entering the care system – another target set nationally.

North Somerset Council says it finds adoptive places for 14 per cent of children in care, while the national average is 12 per cent.

A council spokesman said this week that finding families for older children can take a lot longer as there are ‘far fewer’ adoptive families able and willing to consider older children for adoption.

It says it is working to recruit more adopters in North Somerset and has recently had a rise in inquiries about adoption, which it says may be the result of some positive media coverage.

The spokesman added: “We are working hard to process these applications swiftly.

“The pool of adopters available nationally is falling and this is having an impact as there are fewer adopters available for all agencies to find the most suitable placement for any child.

“We are also approaching the courts in North Somerset to talk to them about ways we can work together to reduce delays through the court process - it currently takes 55 weeks on average for care cases to go through the courts in North Somerset.

“We will continue to monitor every individual case to highlight and tackle delays where they arise and to inform us of any particular barriers that continue to cause delay across the whole adoption system in North Somerset.”

The figures, released by the Department for Education, are based on average scores from 2009-2011.

North Somerset Council’s adoption service was inspected by Ofsted last year and graded as outstanding.


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