A cross-party group of MPs and Peers has today published a new report calling for a significant shift in thinking about the adoption system in order to provide better support for some of England’s most vulnerable children.
The report, ‘Strengthening Families’ (LINK), is the result of an inquiry conducted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Adoption and Permanence (APPGAP). It will be launched today at an event attended by the Children’s Minister, Vicky Ford MP, and Josh MacAlister, who is leading a government-commissioned review of children’s social care in England.
Having received evidence from 200 adopted young people and adults, and around 500 adoptive parents, the report calls for a system-wide move from ‘family finding’, the initial stage of an adoption process, to ‘family building’, recognising the need for lifelong support for adoptive families. The majority of adopted children have experienced significant abuse, neglect or violence in their lives, with lasting effects on their relationships, learning and mental health.
The APPGAP chair Rachael Maskell MP said: ‘We have heard many compelling stories about the experiences of adopted children and their families throughout this inquiry. It is crucial that there is continued investment in recruiting adopters, ensuring children do not wait too long in care and making good matches. But this must be seen as the start of the journey, not the end. Sticking with families over the long term is vital for providing the stability that these children need, given the tough start many of them have faced. There can be no greater investment than securing the future of children by enabling them to grow into confident and fulfilled adults.’
The report is intended to feed into the current Review of Children’s Social Care, with the majority of adopted children having spent time in care before moving to their adoptive family. The Review’s first report ‘The Case for Change’ describes children’s social care as a ‘…tower of Jenga, held together by sellotape.’ The APPGAP report sets out a series of recommendations to better enable a robust, stable adoption system, with members of the APPGAP urging the Review to ensure it takes a truly holistic view of the system, in which the needs of adopted children are firmly part of the analysis and recommendations.
The APPG’s recommendations include the provision of high-quality adoption support plans, a 10-year commitment to the Adoption Support Fund, and training for teachers in supporting children who have experienced early trauma.