Adoption must be fast-tracked to ease a creaking care system

Early intervention makes all the difference. If one child is left in a chaotic home, it's likely that more will follow

Share

Oh, but the timing is terrible. As we reel from reports of abuse in children’s homes, a Commons Education Select Committee announces the findings of its report: that more children in Britain should be taken into care. Not surprisingly, reaction is colourful and, in most cases, damning.

We have a difficult relationship with the concept of “care”; dating back far beyond the current horror stories.  But there is truth in the findings – that too often parents have been given second (and third, and fourth) chances to make a decent job of looking after their children when the evidence of neglect and abuse is undeniable. Neglect, of course, is abuse – the most common and an incredibly damaging form. A child who cannot speak, or socialise, or learn, will struggle their entire life.

This must end (and I have written on the subject before, as the mother of two who travelled through the system to be adopted by me). Early intervention makes all the difference. The legacy of leaving a child in a chaotic home is that it will often be followed by a sibling, and perhaps a third, before the situation is deemed unsalvageable. And, as the British Association for Fostering and Adoption notes, sibling groups are the hardest to place.

The decision of when to intervene has led to some appalling situations (for what is leaving a child in a dirty, harrowing home if not just another version of neglect, but by “the authorities” rather than parents?). Many children interviewed by the NSPCC believe the care they receive “in care” is better than the alternative, so perhaps we need to revise the level of our hand-wringing. And if half of those children returned to their birth families after a period away go on to be abused again, well, anything is better than that.

But the speeding up of one end of the process is no good if the other is too slow. If you take children into care, you must be ready to get them out again and into a loving family. An edition of You and Yours on Radio 4 on Tuesday made for difficult listening as adopters told of horrendous delays, mysterious rejections and heart-rending breakdowns. A 24-year-old graduate on their first social-work job should not be the one to decide: one of my children was asked, two weeks after placement, by a well-meaning but utterly inexperienced social worker how he was “adjusting to the new family dynamic”. “Mum, what does she mean?” It seems to sum up all that is wrong: book learning not matched by life experience.

If we are to break the cycle, we must utilise adopters and adoptees on panels to help make the decisions – who better to recognise potential and pitfalls than them? And we must use some of the £35,000 a year spent on a child in care to support those with the potential to parent them.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an I...

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Larry Fink, the boss of fund manager BlackRock , is among those sounding the alarm  

Not all discounts are welcome: Beware the myopia of company bosses

Ben Chu
Cilla Black lived her life in front of the lens, whether on television or her earlier pop career  

Cilla Black dead: A sad farewell to the singer who gave us a 'lorra, lorra laughs'

Gerard Gilbert
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen