Response to Westminster Government letter calling for priority of adoption

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Responding to news that the Department for Education has written to directors of children’s services across England urging them to prioritise adoption for children in the care system, chief executive of The Fostering Network Kevin Williams said: 'We continue to be perplexed by the Westminster Government's use of language and continued view of adoption as the gold standard of care.

‘We have been around this loop so many times before and are disappointed that we are having to do so again. It is particularly disappointing that this letter should be sent out at this time when the Government has committed to commissioning a review of the care system in England. The letter appears to pre-empt the findings of the review and indicate the Government's priorities before the review has even started.’

'For the majority of children in care, foster care remains an excellent option to provide them with a sense of belonging and to maintain the important relationships they have with their birth family. While adoption may be the best route to stability for a small number of children, the majority of children in care do not need adopting and all forms of permanence should be properly supported and considered for each child. It is certainly not the case that children in care are "waiting for a permanent, loving home". That description is offensive to the 55,000 foster families across the UK and stigmatising of the tens of thousands of children and young people living with those families, not to mention children living with their wider family. 

'Children’s Minister, Michelle Donelan, states that "Children’s needs should be at the forefront of decisions" yet if that were to be truly the case there would be no pre-ordained hierarchy of care, with the decision as to the best way to provide long-term stability for each child being made on a case by case basis rather than being dictated by Government policy.’

'We would urge the Government to ensure that children’s needs really are at the centre of decision making about their care, and to refrain from making further statements that appear to prioritise one form of permanence over others.'