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Off target

The adoption system needs vast improvements – but imposing stringent time limits is illogical and unhelpful, argues Graham Pegg

6 February 2012

How the heart sinks at the prospect of another government ‘initiative’ in the field of care and adoption law. The Blair government’s unsubtle financial incentives of 2002 fuelled many an allegation, among the hysterically anti-social worker, that ‘You lot get more money if you have our kids adopted!’ Now, in the wide-ranging Family Justice Review we see the proposal for a rather arbitrary time limit of six months on care proceedings, one of the aims of which appears to be to hasten to adoptive placements children who are never going back home. The current regime involving categorising cases as 30, 50 or 80 weeks matters (an utter fixation in some parts of the country, treated in a very relaxed manner elsewhere) gives a weird enough flavour to the welfare principle without the process tightening down further to a presumption of six months across the board. Not that delays don’t bedevil this process.

One major problem lies with the operation of the adoption panel. Ma...

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