The Department is publishing an update to the adoption scorecards covering the period 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2012. The scorecards were introduced as part of a new approach to address delays in the adoption system, set out in An Action Plan for Adoption: Tackling Delay (published in March 2012). Performance thresholds for the first and second indicators in the scorecard make clear our minimum expectations for timeliness in the adoption system. We will raise the performance thresholds incrementally over the next four years until they reflect the levels set out in statutory guidance.
The adoption scorecard shows, against three key indicators, how swiftly children in need of adoption are placed for adoption, in each local authority area. These scorecards allow local authorities and other adoption agencies to monitor their own performance and compare it with that of others. In the future we will also include data on how swiftly local authorities and adoption agencies deal with prospective adopters.
To aid effective comparison between local authority areas, and give a more contextualised and rounded picture of a local authority’s performance, additional information has been included, such as an indicator of the timeliness of the local family justice system, and the numbers of older children being adopted.
The first indicator measures the average time it takes for a child who goes on to be adopted from entering care to moving in with his or her adoptive family and the threshold will be set at 21 months (639 days). The second indicator measures the average time it takes for a local authority to match a child to an adoptive family once the court has formally decided that adoption is the best option and the threshold will be set at 7 months (213 days).
The data within the scorecard are based on a three year rolling average (2009-10 to 2011-12). These key indicators will be updated in late 2013 with data for 2012-13 when these become available.
The average number of days is presented rounded to the nearest day but where the numerator was five or less or the denominator was 10 or less, they have been suppressed and replaced by a cross (x). Percentages have been rounded to whole numbers but where the numerator was five or less the denominator was 10 or less, they have been suppressed and replaced by a cross (x). It has been necessary to suppress other figures whenever it would be possible to calculate the value of a suppressed number by means of simple arithmetic with data from other publications.
At present, the vast majority of local authority areas do not on average meet the timescales that statutory guidance sets out for the different parts of the assessment process and there is a great deal of variation between areas.
There are a variety of reasons for this, but for the sake of children whose best future depends on timely adoption, we need to increase the focus of the adoption system on eradicating unnecessary delay.
The key sources of additional contextual data on looked after children are:
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