Memorandum from Barnado's

Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 5:45 pm ar 21 Tachwedd 2001.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Barnardo's is delighted to have the opportunity to give oral evidence to the Special Standing Committee on Part 2 of the Adoption and Children Bill. Barnardo's will be represented by Liz Garrett, Head of Policy, and Ann Haigh, Project Leader of Counselling Services.

Barnardo's welcomes the Adoption and Children Bill as a key plank in the Government's programme to modernise the adoption system for the benefit of children and support many of the Bill's measures such as achieving consistency between adoption and the 1989 Children Act, with the child's welfare being paramount and the application of the welfare checklist. Attached at appendix 1 is an outline of the areas we would wish to concentrate on in giving oral evidence.

We are however disappointed not to be giving evidence on the Bill as a whole. We are also concerned about other parts of the Bill such as Adoption Allowances (Clause 2 (6)), the Adoption Support Services (Clauses 4 and 5), Management of Agencies (Clause 10) and Access to Information (Clauses 54 and 57). From our own experience and that of other voluntary agencies, we are aware that the majority of children currently being placed for adoption are under five. This raises questions about what is happening to older children who are unable to return home. Some are being adopted and others undoubtedly could be, if more families could be recruited and post-adoption support and adoption allowances were adequately resourced. However, we do not believe that promoting adoption should be at the expense of developing and resourcing alternative options for children whose future, at least in the short to medium term, may lie in a different direction.

Adoption has had a high public profile in recent years but at times the debate has been characterised by a pre-occupation with the needs of adults. We have been concerned by the inaccuracy of some of the information in the public domain and by a tendency to embrace simplistic solutions. Where children could and should be adopted, the acid test of this Bill must be—will its provisions help us to make successful lasting placements with positive outcomes for the children concerned. The funding identified for adoption within the Quality Protects programme is welcome but we are not convinced that it will be sufficient. We are particularly concerned that priority will be given to placing more children, in order to meet performance targets, at the expense of any significant improvement in post-adoption support and the availability of adoption allowances.

We look forward to presenting our evidence to the committee on Wednesday 21st November.