‘Safeguarding Not Speed Must Come First’ In Adoption Overhaul

Family Law Expert Calls For Care With Changes To Process


The Government has been urged by a family lawyer at Irwin Mitchell to ensure that any changes to the adoption system do not inadvertently impact on the welfare of children involved in the process.

A range of proposals have been unveiled by Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove as part of the Action Plan for Adoption, including the recommended introduction of scorecards to measure the effectiveness of council services and a new process to assess potential adopters within six months.

The overall aim of the changes is to reform the system in England in manner which will help to speed up the process of getting children into families as soon as possible.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Family Law team have said the proposals could play a major role in improving services across the country as a whole, but warned that care must be taken when implementing such an overhaul.

Peter Morris, a Partner and expert in family law at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office, said: “Many would state that the adoption process takes too long at present, even in the simplest of cases, and any steps to speed up the timetable will no doubt be welcomed in principle.

“However, it is absolutely vital that speed is not at the expense of safeguarding the best interests of a child or children involved in a specific case. It is not uncommon for mistakes to be made by overstretched local authorities when dealing with cases, which can of course have significant effects on children who are already in a vulnerable state of mind.

Peter added: “The use of performance scorecards should not divert attention away from the need to standardise good practice, which can often vary from region to region. It is also fundamentally important that any changes are adequately resourced.”

“Children and families should have access to a consistent and fair system regardless of where they live and these proposals will hopefully ensure this is the case going forward.”