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It is now the mid-way point between the first and second anniversaries of the Children and Families Act 2014. The act is wide-ranging, tackling everything from adoption (the most Draconian order that any court can ever make) to smoking in cars.

There are approximately 6,000 children waiting for ‘forever families’ (to use the slightly odd argot of the child-care professional) or a ‘new’ mummy and/or daddy (to use the language that children actually prefer). One of the act’s principal aims is to detangle the red tape, so as to more quickly move those children from cold, faceless bureaucracy into warm and loving homes. Well has it worked, I hear you ask. Yes, no and maybe is the inevitable lawyer’s answer.

Doing the maths; an increase in the number of adopters, coupled with a reduction of delay for convening ‘matching panels’ and a simplification of the anodyne adoption rules, must as a matter of pure logic result in more children being placed, more quickly and more effectively. The problem with that ‘mathematical logic’ of course is that there is a short supply of the ‘perfect baby’, or the toddler too young to have enduring memories, or the child who has not been severely emotionally or even physically scarred,  which is what most adopters want. There is no point in pretending otherwise.

Also it must be a moot point whether repealing the requirement for councils to give ‘due consideration’ to children’s racial, cultural, religious and linguistic heritage when ‘matching’ leads in practice to a smoother process and more children being adopted. In any event, there is no evidence that the ‘proportionate’ requirement to give ‘due consideration’ was ever the cause of delay, argue BAAF. Furthermore, a change in the law does not ineluctably lead to a change in policy or indeed of attitude.

It is still too early to tell how the changes have impacted, so it is important to keep an open mind, as prospective adopters are almost always told.


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