Monday, 2 April 2012

Useful research by Ofsted on adoption

I was pleased to hear that Ofsted has been conducting some research into the issue of delays in adoption and is reported by the BBC to have found that the most significant cause of delay in the adoption process in England is the time taken by the court proceedings.

If this is correct then simply pressurising local authorities to speed up adoptions is unlikely to have much effect. On the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning, John Goldup of Ofsted said that court delays were often associated with new members of the child’s birth family joining the proceedings and with the court ordering independent reports, often at the request of members of the birth family. These are complex issues with speed being delicately balanced against justice. More research may be required to come up with proposals about how to speed up the court stages of the process.

Ofsted described processes for matching children with adoptive parents as "generally robust". Little evidence was found of delays caused by social workers searching for a perfect ethnic match.

The Government needs to take this research very seriously. The time for drum-banging on the subject of the speed of adoption is now over and the time for careful research and analysis has arrived.