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Michael Gove and Tim Loughton overhaul "politically correct" adoption guidance to get children into "loving homes" more quickly

Tim Montgomerie

Yesterday Michael Gove announced plans to reverse the fall in adoption rates. According to The Telegraph he has "ordered social workers not to “delay” placing children for adoption because prospective parents are older than usual, from a different ethnic group, or single". In a speech yesterday Mr Gove, himself adopted, said:

"Thousands of children are currently in the care system waiting to be adopted. Every day they wait is a day they’re denied the loving home all children deserve. But politically correct attitudes and ridiculous bureaucracy keep many waiting far too long.”

He also issued new guidance making it easier for single parents to adopt. The new guidance states that "some children may find it easier to relate to just one parent or prefer not to relate closely to a mother or father figure if there are negative associations from the past.”

Read the full Department for Education press release. In an article for The Telegraph Jill Kirby endorses the suggestion that local councils make much greater use of voluntary organisations working in this area but she calls for a financial incentive to make it happen. She writes:

"Independent, voluntary agencies have a much better record of arranging successful and lasting adoptions than councils’ own in-house services – but the one-off charge is much higher. The result is that many long-established voluntary agencies with a strong record of success have been forced to close due to lack of demand. Yet the lasting adoptions at which they specialise are much cheaper for the state in the long term than providing endless foster care; indeed, the expense can often be recouped within a couple of years. The British Association for Adoption and Fostering has called for a new approach to budgeting, in which money follows the child, enabling local councils to reap the savings which flow from achieving a permanent adoption. Such a change would act as an incentive to councils to take a longer view, and would be completely consistent with liberalisation of service provision that David Cameron called for on these pages this week."

FAMILYPeter Oborne recently wrote that the Coalition's family policy was threadbare and it is certainly less than it would have been if the Conservatives had governed on their own. Nick Clegg is vehemently opposed, for example, to David Cameron's marriage tax allowance. The adoption reforms demonstrate, however, that some progress IS being made. There is also today's announcement of encouraging more separating couples to go to mediation before going to court.

It's also true that Iain Duncan Smith is progressing his plan to eliminate the penalty that faces poorer couples in the benefits system. Liberal Democrats have also signed off his commitment to spend £25 million pa on parenting education. Arguably these two interventions are more important than a marriage tax allowance.


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