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The government is significantly strengthening its support for the voluntary sector to address the national shortage of adopters.
At the end of March 2012 there were 4,650 children cleared by the courts for adoption, but waiting to be placed with a permanent family. We need around 2,000 more adopters than are currently approved and waiting to be matched for the children who need adopting now, some of whom have been waiting a long time. In addition, we need to approve at least 700 more adopters each year to meet the needs of a growing number of children. This represents a need for sustainable growth in the overall recruitment of adopters of over 25%.
The Department for Education set out its commitment to reforming adopter recruitment and strengthening the capacity of the voluntary adoption agencies (VAAs) in 'Further action on adoption' in January 2013. In his letter of 18 June 2013 to the local government sector, Edward Timpson MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, welcomed local government’s commitments to reform, but also indicated that he was not persuaded that their proposals for reforming adopter recruitment addressed all of his concerns or could be fully implemented.
The department believes that a strong voluntary adoption agency sector is a crucial step towards the sustainable reform of the adoption system. Supported by a government grant of £1 million over 2012 to 2014, we have already seen significant growth in the number of adopters approved by the VAA sector. This amounts to 43% in 2012 to 2013, and it is the department's intention to maintain and accelerate this expansion in future years. The department is therefore announcing a further package of reforms intended to further strengthen the growing role of the voluntary sector in adopter recruitment and approval.
The Department for Education will therefore be providing up to £15,970,000 to support the growth of the VAA sector over 2013 to 2016 through expansion grants, start-up grants and an element of business development support, which will help VAAs develop strategies to scale-up sustainably. The grants and business support available in 2013 to 2014 will prepare the ground for the significant expansion grants available in 2014 to 2016.
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