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New rules for social workers following adoption reform

Newly published guidance will help social workers navigate the reformed adoption system when considering adoption for vulnerable children, says the Government.

The planned guidance is published for consultation alongside a series of draft regulation changes. The package marks the next step towards implementation of comprehensive reforms to the adoption system and includes:

  • regulation changes requiring councils to consider fostering for adoption wherever appropriate so more children are placed in stable homes earlier,
  • rule changes to reduce delay for black and ethnic minority children, by removing the risk that ethnicity is prioritised over other factors,
  • making it mandatory for councils to tell prospective adopters about their entitlement to adoption support, and
  • removing restrictions on the adoption register so adopters can play a much more active role in identifying children they might be suitable to adopt.

The revised statutory guidance has been refocused to help social workers place children with adoptive parents more quickly, engage adopters in the process much sooner and provide support to properly meet the needs of adopted children and their new families.

The Children and Families Bill, which will receive royal assent in the coming weeks, will see significant improvements to the adoption system. It follows a number of reforms implemented last year, including:

  • a 2-stage approval process so the majority of adopters are approved to adopt within six months,
  • a legal duty on all adoption agencies to refer prospective adopters to the adoption register within three months of approval, and
  • a duty to ensure that the information on children waiting to be adopted is kept up to date, as well as referring the children to the register within three months of the adoption decision.

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