As the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the prevention of Adverse Childhood Experiences I am all too well aware of how problems in the early years of a child’s life can have a profound effect for years to come.
Some children live with such terrible abuse or neglect that they need to be removed from their parents and placed in the care of the local authority as “looked after children”. Foster carers do an extraordinary and often difficult job helping to rebuild young people’s lives - and councils are always looking for those who can care for children in the short term, or in the case of adoption, the long term.
There are around 75,400 looked-after children in England at any one time and nearly 4,000 children are adopted every year. Locally, in Essex, there are currently 17 children waiting for adoption, some under five, some older, some with siblings and some with disabilities. It’s not easy to become an adoptive parent – there are all kinds of necessary checks and interviews to pass – and there have been times in the past when the system has been a bit long-winded and difficult to complete leading to a decrease in the number of adoptions compared with an increase of the number of children in care.
However, I am pleased to say that the Government has announced a grant of £3.4 million to fund five new Regional Adoption Agencies as part of its ambition to create a world-leading adoption system, with faster matching so that children are placed in loving, stable homes more quickly. These agencies will help to match children awaiting adoption with the most suitable family as quickly as possible. This model provides more support for adoptive families and for those considering adoption.
Adoption and fostering are extraordinary things to do - they are amongst the greatest acts of generosity and kindness. It is a way of offering young people a loving home, a fresh chance, and hope. If it is something you might consider, please contact the excellent team at Essex County Council: www.essexadoptionandfostering.co.uk/adoption/