Following the publication of the government’s latest statistics, the UK's leading adoption charity has described the growing number of children in care as the "biggest scandal of our times."
Adoption UK have expressed concern that the impact of austerity on vulnerable families is leading to more and more children being removed from their parents because they were at risk of abuse or neglect, with 63% of the 75,420 looked-after children in England in care primarily due to fears over abuse or neglect.
The number of children in care has increased steadily increased every year since 2008, while the Department for Education shows that adoption numbers have fallen 13% year on year to 3,820 earlier this year - well down from the 2015 peak of 5,360 - which has resulted in the number of placement orders falling by half from 9,590 in 2014 to 5,360 in 2018.
“The care population is rising, in part because vulnerable parents are not being adequately supported," said Dr Sue Armstrong Brown, chief executive of Adoption UK. "The outrage is that we’re well aware of the consequences of early childhood trauma and the impact on those who care for them.
"The lack of understanding and support available to some of the most vulnerable children in our society is the biggest scandal of our times," she added. “Adoption, when it’s the most appropriate option for a child in care, can offer the best chance to permanently break a cycle of neglect and abuse and give a child a second chance at fulfilling their potential with the support of a loving family."
Pointing to September 2013 Re B-S judgement, which indicated that local authorities need to show the courts that all alternatives to adoption were considered before seeking an adoption order, Adoption UK believes cuts to children’s services is directly impacting upon the number of prospective adopters coming forward. In the year following the judgement, adoption decisions dropped 40% and placement orders fell 45%.
“We simply must decide, as a society, to do a better job of supporting vulnerable families," Dr Armstrong continued, with data revealing last month that there are more than twice as many children waiting for families than there are prospective adopters. "We must also ensure that lifelong support is made available for families willing to welcome a child with additional needs to ensure a successful adoption.”