Adoption system 'hopelessly slow' says report

A report into the state of adoption services has called for the transformation of the "hopelessly slow" system.

Martin Narey, former chief executive of the charity Barnado's, said adoption was the "golden option" that could solve many of the problems endured by some of Britain's most vulnerable children.

In a report commissioned by The Times, Mr Narey made some 19 recommendations for changing the system.

Among his suggested reforms, he said abused children taken out of their homes should live with prospective adoptive parents straight away rather than spend years in care.

He called for adoption to be presented as a "valid third option" to pregnant women or girls who are unlikely to be able to raise a child.

Mr Narey also recommended that league tables should be published, ranking councils by speed and rate of adoption.

Another recommendation is for local authorities not to waste time assessing friends or family of a vulnerable child when adoption offers the best hope of a permanent home.

Mr Narey is a former head of the Prison Service and will this week be appointed Ministerial Adviser on Adoption, The Times reported.

He told the newspaper: "Here we have a solution to healing the lives of some of the most disadvantaged children in the UK.

"In an any other area of social policy, with the evidence so persuasive, it would be vigorously pursued. Instead it is dealt with at best marginally."

Mr Narey said there is a problem with attitudes, in that some people "just don't like adoption".

Outlining further problems, he highlighted "bad use of research", a system that is "hopelessly slow", and "troubling confusion" among social workers and in the legal system about how the Human Rights Act affects the rights of parents and children.

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