John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
  That EDM 626 Row
A mild row is going on about EDM 626. (link on edmi) That is the EDM that says:
That this House notes that local authorities and their staff are incentivised to ensure that children are adopted; is concerned about increasing numbers of babies being taken into care, not for the safety of the infant, but because they are easy to get adopted; and calls urgently for effective scrutiny of care proceedings to stop this from happening.

It is worth doing some analysis on the evidence for this EDM. This part:
local authorities and their staff are incentivised to ensure that children are adopted;
Is incontravertible. There has been a targeting system for getting children adopted from care for some time. A visit to CSCI will demonstrate the pressure on local authorities and their staff to increase adoptions from care. Doing so would be a laudable objective if it meant that children who otherwise would remain in foster care got adopted.

However, if it means that children would otherwise remain with their family then it is not a laudable objective.

There are, then two tests. One test is whether children otherwise would have gone back to the family the other test is that relating to:
is concerned about increasing numbers of babies being taken into care, not for the safety of the infant, but because they are easy to get adopted;
Is it the case that more babies are being taken into care because when it comes to adoption they are easier to get adopted. I have rummaged around the figures for this and found it takes about 2 years from being taken into care for a child to be adopted.

The increase in adoptions is substantially within toddlers. There is very little of an increase of babies being adopted, but then if the parents are fighting to keep their children a contested process would not complete that quickly.

For the age group 1-4 the figures for adoption are 910 (1994),830,870,980,1000 (1998)
and 1900 (2001), 2000, 2200, 2300. The total figure in 2005 was 3,800 and 1,900 for 1997. So the toddler figure has gone up by (2300-890) 1,410 and the overall total by 1,900. There are quite a few in the 5-9 age range as well, but not so many in the higher ranges. That is not surprising.

The real question is what would have happened to these children otherwise. Clearly some would have remained in care and therefore it is a good outcome for them. However, would some have returned to their parents? Or indeed would some not have been taken into care in the first instance.

What we do have is an increase in babies being taken into care. Given the approximate 2 year time to adoption from going into care then a goodly proportion (I estimate about 1,000) of the increase in toddlers comes from children taken into care as a baby.

It is quite difficult to reconcile DFES figures as they round everything to 100 and the same figure for the same year varies between different DFES reports. However, there does seem to be a clear pattern in this. I am going to try to get better information from the department
 
Comments:
You are as usual quite correct so I continue to offer you my vigorous encouragement. My own key suggestion is that the quickest and easiest way to stop most of these injustices would be to give parents the right to demand a hearing before a jury if they risk losing a baby or young child to adoption or long term fostering.No jury would "confiscate" children because of a risk of emotional abuse the way that compliant judges now do in secret family courts !Criminals facing 6 months or more in prison have the right to a jury so why not parents who face a life sentence if their child is adopted?
 
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