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Prime Minister stresses need to improve adoption rate

In David Cameron's Party Conference speech there wasn't much in the way of new policy announcements.

However he did say:

Today I can announce this: a new focus on the 65,000 children in care. Do you know how many children there are in care under the age of one? 3,660. And how many children under the age of one were adopted in our country last year? Sixty.

This may not seem like the biggest issue facing our country, but it is the biggest issue for these children. How can we have let this happen: we've got people flying all over the world to adopt babies, while the care system at home agonises about placing black children with white families.

With the right values and the right effort, let's end this scandal and help these, the most vulnerable children of all.

Understandably, given that he had a lot of other matters to talk, about there was no further detail. But those comments do put his credibility on the line in terms of achieving a significant reduction in the number of children in care, including far more babies being placed for adoption, and an end to the current arrangement  where black children are kept in the care system unless and until a black couple can be found to adopt them. That will only cease if social workers are prohibited from doing it. It is no good just sending them a memo.

Incentives to reduce delay will have some benefit but their also need to be changes in the law if some of the flawed ideology is to be defeated.

The good news is that there are already some signs of modest progress. In my council of Hammersmith and Fulham there was a reduction in the number of children in care from 260 to 250 in the year to April. In the six months since it has fallen to 240.

Another measure of success would be for fewer of the children who do have to stay in care to be in children's homes rather than with foster carers.


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