City council under fire for taking 'too long' to find adoptive parents
DERBY City Council could be stripped of its power to place children with adoptive parents unless it speeds up the process.
Figures for 2009-12 suggest the authority took nearly two-thirds longer than the national average to find homes for children in care.
Derby took 319 days to complete the process on average. Nationally, the figure was 195 days.
Yesterday, the Government said it was drawing up a new law to enable ministers to "outsource" local authorities' adoption services to private agencies.
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It said councils that stand to be stripped of the responsibility are those that take too long to complete the adoption process.
"We can't stand by whilst children's futures hang in the balance," said Children's Minister Edward Timpson.
But Derby City Council defended its record in finding children adoptive parents.
Andrew Bunyan, strategic director for children and young people, said: "What Derby City Council strongly demonstrates is that we make plans fit with the needs of the children first and foremost, rather than the scorecard requirements. The majority of children are placed promptly.
"There are a group of children who take longer to place due to their individual needs and we work just as hard to help find adoptive parents for those with more complex needs, however long that might take.
"We are very proud we also have had no adoption breakdowns in the last four years. This is not reported on any scorecard. At 25%, we have one of the highest proportions of children who leave care though adoption.
"The figures show we are not sitting around doing nothing whilst children are in care; they prove we work hard to get children adopted regardless of how much time that might take."
Derbyshire County Council cabinet member for children and young people, Councillor Barry Lewis, said: "We are wholly committed to finding adoptive homes for Derbyshire children and our hard work is paying off."
The 2009-12 figures show it took 128 days, on average, to complete the process.