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Local Solicitor Joins Key Government Adoption Research Panel

by Ridley&Hall in Adoption breakdown, Care Proceedings & Adoption, Nigel Priestley, Placement orders posted January 13, 2013.

Nigel Priestley, Senior Partner with Ridley & Hall has been asked to join a government advisory panel on adoption breakdown.

The advisory group is made upon researchers carrying out the research for the government and representatives from local authorities and the key adoption support organisations including British Association for Adoption and Fostering and Adoption UK. The meeting takes place at the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Nigel Priestley is the only solicitor from private practice represented on the advisory group.

Commenting Mr Priestley said “It’s a privilege to be involved with this panel. Both this government and the previous Labour government have tried to increase the number of children. Adoption is at the heart of this government’s plans.

The government’s overhaul of the adoption system is designed to speed up the approval process and make it easier for people to adopt. But the latest Department for Education statistics for England reveal that the number of children waiting to be adopted has increased by around 15% since 2011.

In March 2011, there were 6,240 children with placement orders, a year later there were 7,160. A placement order is granted when a local authority plans for a child to be adopted. At the same time, the number of children placed with adopters has decreased by 1% since 2011 – and 6% since 2008. This suggests that while more placement orders are being made, not enough adoption placements are being found.

He went on “It’s important to realise that most children who are placed for adoption have been involved in care proceedings. Currently, 72% of adopted children were neglected, abused or both by their birth families.

In a comment to the Guardian, Alan Burnell, director of adoption agency Family Futures said “Many children we see are scared and need help to adjust. Even though they’re in safe, new environments, they need help to rewire their brain so that they can accept the love and the care that they’re getting in adoptive families,”

“Local authorities are obliged to assess adopters’ support needs, if requested, but not to provide any specific services identified by those assessments. “The key to adoption success is in the post placement support and therapeutic input,” said Mr Burnell

Mr Priestley commented “It’s vital that the research is available to understand what causes adoptions to break down – and just how often it happens. In my experience quality support for adopters struggling with some of the emotionally damaged children whom they have adopted is in short supply. Sadly it’s hit and miss and is dependent on a postcode lottery. Cuts to local authorities must put at risk the little support available.”

Ridley & Hall are developing a specialist team to advise adopters about the responsibilities of local authorities to provide post adoption support.

For further information please contact Nigel Priestley or call 01484 538421.

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