Adoption figure fury

Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn

Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn

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THE leader of Blackpool Council has condemned adoption league tables, labelling them as “unfair”.

The first ever adoption “scorecards” were published by the Department of Education yesterday - sparking fury from Coun Simon Blackburn, leader of Blackpool Council, and children’s services professionals.

Based on figures from 2008 to 2011, the scorecards show there are widespread delays throughout the adoption process across the country.

In Blackpool, the authority’s average time between a child entering care and moving in with its adoptive family is 683 days - when the national target for England is 639.

In Lancashire, this figure is 676.

But Coun Blackburn said: “These adoption scorecards completely ignore the important process of making sure a child is placed in the right family for their individual needs.

“If a child is placed dependant on speed, as these scorecards suggest, then there is a good chance that a placement will not work out, causing even more upheaval for the child, which is exactly what we want to avoid.

“This council works incredibly hard to place children in safe, loving and permanent families, which is why we have received a good Ofsted rating for our adoption services, with some aspects being outstanding.

“Of course we want to improve our adoption service s but these scorecards are an unfair way of judging our performance.

Local authorities have been rated on the scorecards as to whether a child is placed with a new family in under 21 months.

Children’s Minister Tim Loughton said: “Hundreds of children are being let down by unacceptable delays right across the country and throughout the adoption process. Every month a child waits to be placed, there is less chance of finding a permanent, stable and loving home. This cannot go on.”

But a recent report by Ofsted has confirmed the court process for these cases take an average of 14 months, and can take as long as 20 months.

Coun Blackburn added: “It’s important to acknowledge a large amount of this delay is also out of the council’s hands, and is due to other parts of the system, such as the court process, which can take a long time to resolve.

“These scorecards could have the potential to cause unnecessary concern in communities, which could put prospective adopters off. In reality, they should have no concerns about coming forward as adoptive parents and making a real difference to the lives of Blackpool children.”

Blackpool Council is holding an adoption information evening for prospective parents at the Hilton Hotel on Thursday May 17 between 4pm and 8pm.