Suspension of the National Adoption Register

Published: Friday 22nd February 2019

In August 2018, the Department for Education communicated that the statutory Adoption Register for England will be suspended for an indeterminate period from 29 March 2019, while future needs across adoption and fostering are considered.

The child-led matching service (currently known as Adoption Match) will end.

The Adoption Register, which has been operating since 2001, holds the details of children waiting to be adopted and details of approved adopters waiting to be matched with a child. 

There is currently a requirement on all adoption agencies to refer unmatched adopters and children no later than 90 days after their Agency Decision Maker approves the adoption plan/adopter’s application.

For many children who are more difficult to place – often those with additional needs, developmental uncertainty or in sibling groups - the specialist child-led searching of the Adoption Register by a dedicated team in Leeds has provided a safety net for over 15 years.

In the last year alone, matches were found for 277 of the hardest to place children in this way and through Exchange Days bring professionals together with adopters from across the country. 

The costs of this service are recovered from the avoided childhood care costs of just one child placed.

Coram has raised concerns about the impact of the imminent suspension of the Adoption Register on the most vulnerable children in our society at a time when the gap between available adopters and children waiting is the biggest we have seen.

Dr Carol Homden CBE, CEO of Coram said:

While other systems are important in helping adopters and agencies in the matching process, the Adoption Register is the only child-led pro-active independent service helping agencies to find adoptive homes for children when all other approaches have been tried. It is a vital extra chance for those who wait the longest - those with additional needs, developmental uncertainty, BAME or in sibling groups.

 

The consequence of the government’s decision to pause the register and end the current service is a likely reduction of placements for children at a time when structural reform through the regionalisation of adoption is far from complete. There has been no reduction in referrals of children to the Register and they, and others like them, have an even greater need for matches to be sought. As things stand, on 1 April 2019, there will be no obligation for an agency to refer a child and no service independent of their agency pro-actively seeking a match for them.

 

We at Coram believe that it not too late to reconsider the decision, and we have asked the Secretary of State to think again. Children desperately need us to work together to ensure that vital chances of loving homes for life are not lost.

Coram’s Adoption Exchange Days, a successful family finding method for children awaiting adoption, will continue, with upcoming events taking place on:

  • 8 March - Manchester 
  • 24 May, 18 October, 2 December – London
  • July (date TBC) - Leeds

Approved adopters and agencies can book onto these events by emailing enquiries@first4children.org.uk. 

These events will sit alongside Coram’s regular programme of Adoption Activity Days, with upcoming days in March and April– find out more and book places here.

Read Coram-i's new analysis on the impact of the Adoption Register here.

Find out more about the Adoption Register here.