If you'd like to read the whole thing, you can find it here, but I've summarised a few of the highlights below just in case you don't fancy devoting a whole evening to reading a 40+ page DfE document!
The paper proposes to:
- Change legislation to require courts and adoption agencies to consider, at the Adoption Order stage, the relationship a child has with the prospective adopters that they have been placed with - previously birth relatives and "any such person the court considers relevant" had to be considered; the changes will ensure that prospective adopters are considered "relevant".
- Strengthen SGO assessments to include, for example, capacity to care for the child until he/she is 18, understanding of child's current and future needs, ability to meet those needs, understanding of risk posed by birth parents, assessment of strength of previous and current relationship between the child and prospective guardian.
- Delegate all LA's adoption functions to Regional Adoption Agencies by 2020, with voluntary agencies playing a central role - RAAs will carry out all recruitment, matching and support as a minimum, and may also carry out additional functions.
- Increase 'foster to adopt'-style placements.
- Increase funding to the Adoption Support Fund year on year and extend support to adopted people up to age 21, children adopted from other countries via intercountry adoptions, and chldren living under SGOs who were previously looked after.
- Develop a guide for early years professionals working with adopted children.
- Extend the role of virtual school heads to cover adopted children.
- Develop new adopter/adoptee voice initiatives and extend the scope of existing ones, e.g. extending the work of Coram's 'The Adoptables', establishment of an Adoption Support User Group by Adoption UK - these and other groups will help inform the development of government policy.
There's more, of course, and these are just some of the aspects that attracted my attention, but judging from this there are lots of changes ahead in the adoption landscape.