We welcome the Government’s announcement to remove unnecessary delays from the adoption system. No-one wants to see children in temporary placements when they could be living with a family who are committed to them for the whole of their lives.
However the focus on adoption is missing the bigger picture – 5,330 children were adopted from care last year, but there are 153,000 children in England living with grandparents and other relatives. For most children who cannot live with their parents, kinship care is the best option – especially when children already have a bond with their carer. Children in kinship care have faced similar experiences to those in foster care and those who are adopted – and they have the same needs as those adopted or placed in long term foster care. Yet children in kinship care are often overlooked and ignored, and in 95% of cases have no legal entitlement to support. All too often family members are left struggling to bring up children traumatised by abuse, neglect or bereavement without adequate help.
If the Government is serious about improving outcomes for children, it needs to give greater recognition to kinship care, and to ensure that all children receive the support they need, irrespective of the type of family they are growing up in.