First4Adoption, jointly run by Coram Children’s Legal Centre, Coram and Adoption UK, was set up to help encourage more adopters to come forward to minimise delays in finding loving homes for children. The service provides clear and impartial advice about adopting in England and helps put people in touch with local adoption agencies.
Since April 2013, when First4Adoption launched its website to complement its dedicated adoption phone line:
• 94,752 people have visited the First4Adoption website and over 2,000 people have called the dedicated information line;
• of the 96,000 people who contacted the service, over 6,800 went on to directly contact an adoption agency of their choice – taking the vital next step in becoming an adoptive parent; and
• use of the online service has grown rapidly from around 5,600 visits a month in April 2013, to over 27,000 in December 2013.
Today’s figures build on the successes of 2013 which saw a 34% increase in adopters and a record 15% rise in adoptions.
The government has today also announced the appointment of Sir Martin Narey as the Chair of the Adoption Leadership Board – a new national initiative jointly developed by government, councils and voluntary adoption agencies – to drive improvements in the adoption system and ensure there are enough adopters to provide homes for all the children who are waiting to be adopted.
Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson, who grew up with two adopted brothers, said: “Adopting a child is one of the most challenging but rewarding decisions a person can make. It is fantastic news that after just 12 months more than 96,000 people have reached out to this vital service. However, we know there is still a shortage of adopters and that work needs to be done to ensure the 6,000 children who need a safe and caring home are placed more quickly. That is why our new Adoption Leadership Board – headed up by Sir Martin Narey – will play an important role in ensuring that not only local authorities and adoption agencies stay on track but that we do what we can to improve the system and recruit even more than ever before.”
The new board, which has a key role to play in providing independent advice to Ministers, includes Coram’s Chief Executive Dr Carol Homden, who also represents First4Adoption, and other senior members from key adoption organisations.
Dr Homden said: “Since its launch a year ago, First4Adoption has received 96,000 enquiries from people interested in adoption, which shows the level of interest out there. This is very encouraging, but this is just the beginning. With local authorities and voluntary adoption agencies, we must redouble our efforts to ensure that those people who are willing and able to become adopters receive the right preparation and support to do so.
“The appointment of Sir Martin Narey as Chairman of the Adoption Leadership Board signals the intent of the sector to rise to the challenge to give the growing number of children in care a loving, stable and permanent home.”
Research published last year by the Department for Education shows that there could be up to 4 million people in England likely to consider adopting at some point in the future, yet there are still 6,000 children waiting to be adopted.