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Adoption and Children Act 2002

Changes to the Adoption Service

6.The White Paper set out the Government’s proposals to encourage wider use of adoption, particularly of children looked after by local authorities. Each year there are about 5,000 adoptions in England and Wales. More than half of all adoptions are of children who have been looked after by local authorities. The Government has set a target of a 40% increase in adoptions of looked after children in England by 2004/5. The measures to improve adoption support included in the Act are intended to encourage more people to come forward to adopt and to help adoptive placements to succeed. The Act places a duty on local authorities to make arrangements for the provision of adoption support services, as specified in regulations. This duty will be used to deliver the new framework for adoption support services (including financial support) promised in the White Paper. It also provides a new right to request and receive an assessment of needs for adoption support services. The assessment will link with other local authority functions and local education authority and heath services, where the needs for such services are identified, with the aim of identifying a co-ordinated package of support to help adoptions succeed.

7.To encourage more people to apply to adopt and to build confidence in the adopter assessment process, the White Paper committed the Government to provide an independent review where an adoption agency intends to turn down a prospective adopter’s application. The Act includes powers enabling the appropriate Minister to establish a mechanism, which may be run by an independent body, to review qualifying adoption agency determinations. The intention is that the independent review mechanism will review, at a prospective adopter’s request, applications that adoption agencies have indicated they are minded to turn down. It is also intended to use the independent review mechanism to review qualifying adoption agency determinations about the disclosure of information concerning a person’s adoption. The mechanism could be used to review other determinations made by adoption agencies.

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