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Adoption process speeds up

Youngsters are not having to wait so long before being placed with families
Youngsters are not having to wait so long before being placed with families
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The amount of time children have to wait to be adopted in Wigan borough has seen a significant improvement, after being among the worst in Greater Manchester last year.

Government figures for 2017 reveal the average time between a court granting an order allowing a child to be adopted and being matched with a family was 270 days.

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This represented a rise from 220 in 2016, with Wigan the only authority across GM to see an increase.

However, council bosses say latest figures – covering the period April 2017 to March 2018 – show the wait time has now dropped to an average of 81 days.

A number of youngsters with additional needs were adopted in 2017 by their foster carers after “no other adoptive families could be identified”, the council said, which in part contributed to the borough’s rate increase.

James Winterbottom, director for children’s services, said: “There are many reasons why doing the right thing for a child and family could lead to a longer wait time. In 2017 for example, we had a number of children with additional needs where foster carers undertook to adopt as no other adoptive families could be identified.

“These children achieved a permanent home through adoption with their foster carers. Wigan is not simply target-led: it is child-led and we consciously encouraged and supported foster carers to adopt where the children had been waiting a long time.”

The Department for Education figures come from a Freedom of Information request from the Reach data unit. They show that for 2017, eight of the nine boroughs that supplied data improved their waiting time average.

Manchester’s was 190 days, down from 216. Bury had the most dramatic change with average times falling from 257 to just 70. Stockport was down from 114 to 97, Salford from 160 to 108, Rochdale from 163 to 126, Bolton from 168 to 135, and Oldham from 245 to 159s. Tameside went from a massive 301 days to just 145 days in 2017.

Mr Winterbottom was keen to point out the high praise that has been heaped on the borough for its handling of adoptions.

He added: “Wigan’s adoption services were individually rated as outstanding by Ofsted last year and we are committed to finding loving, stable and permanent homes for our children in care.

“More recent figures from 2018 show a reduction in the average wait time to 81 days, showing that we perform significantly better than the government target of 121 days.

“Last year we became part of one of the first regional adoption agencies, along with Cheshire West and Chester, Halton, St Helens and Warrington, creating a more efficient service with the aim to increase the number of children being adopted.

“In the last year across the region 85 children have been adopted and 46 adopters have been approved.”