Suffolk: Adoption figures show county is worst in region
YOUNGSTERS in need of adoption are waiting longer to be placed with a new family in this county than elsewhere in the region, new figures reveal.
The length of time taken to find a placement for a child awaiting adoption in Suffolk has doubled over the past five years, from an average of 146 days in 2006 to 295 days – nearly ten months – in 2010.
This is more than two months longer than the national average of 224 days for the length of time between a placement order being made by a court and the child actually being placed in a home, according to the information revealed in response to a parliamentary question.
Jeffrey Coleman, director of the southern region, including Suffolk, for the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, said delays could have harmful long-term effects on the child’s welfare.
He said: “It’s really important that once adoption is identified as the plan, children are placed as quickly as possible.
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“All the research on adoption suggests that a delay in making the placement is the single most important cause of disruption or possible breakdown of the placement.
“I think these figures are utterly regrettable and of great concern.”
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Mr Coleman added that there was a massive shortfall in the number of parents willing to adopt children, and the disparity between that figure and the number of children in need was the highest it has ever been.
But Suffolk County Councillor Graham Newman, portfolio holder for children and young people, defended the county’s record on adoption.
He said: “It’s not just the speed of fixing up adoptions that matters – we need to make sure we get the best possible matches as well.
“We have tried very hard and we have a very high level of permanence in our matches, and very few break downs.
“Of course there is no room for complacency on this. But many children who come forward for adoption do have special needs so we have to ensure the families who come forward are best-matched to deal with these children.”
For information about adoption, call the free hotline on 0800 3899417 or visit www.suffolk.gov.uk and follow links to fostering and adoption.
- Have you had experience of Suffolk’s adoption system? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail email@example.com.