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More children adopted in Hampshire
THERE has been a sharp increase in the number of children being adopted in Hampshire over the past three years, new statistics show.
County council figures show that there were 62 adoptions in 2012-13 – a 67 per cent increase on 2010-11 when just 37 children found permanent homes, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.
In 2010-11, adoptions fell across the country, leading to a Government drive by Education Secretary Michael Gove, who was himself adopted, for local authorities to increase rates.
But long-term trends continue. The majority of adopted children are still aged less than five when they join their new family.
County council figures show that not a single child aged over 10 has been adopted in the past three years.
By contrast, the number of adopted babies aged less than one has increased from 29 in 2010-11 to 37 in 2012-13, with a dip in 2011-12 to just 16.
County chiefs say that adoptions are more likely to be successful at a younger age as older children have often formed firm bonds with parents or foster carers.
Despite the overall increase, only 11 per cent of 1,105 children in the care of the county council in 2012 were adopted – lower than the national average of 13 per cent.
Ministers have said it is not acceptable that children are waiting in care to be adopted. Recent figures have shown that the average wait for a new family is 20 months.
But county chiefs say that during this time the child is carefully matched with adoptive parents.
For children with complex emotional needs or disabilities and those in sibling groups, this process can take longer, they say.
Government reforms include reducing bureaucracy to speed up the process, and Hampshire has been involved in a pilot scheme to remove duplication between the family courts and adoption panels.
In Hampshire, there are usually between 50 and 60 children waiting to be adopted at any one time.
Councillor Michael Mans, executive member for children’s services at the county council, said: “It’s very good news that so many more children in Hampshire have been offered the security of a permanent home.
“It’s impossible to say whether this progress is a result of the Government’s initiative, but we welcome it.
“What’s most important, always, is making sure a thorough process ensures the best possible placement for children to meet their needs, securing the best possible longer term outcomes for them.”
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