“Huge variation” in adoption orders across the UK

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An investigation has revealed a “huge variation” in the level of adoption and care rates across England.

The report, published by the BBC and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, found that children born in Southampton between 2011-12 were 12 times more likely to be placed for adoption than children in Greenwich.

Both regions share the same socio-economic profile, but the results show a massive difference in the way children are identified for adoption.

There was also an increase in adoption orders when comparing children born five years previous, the report shows.

The investigation found that the local authority had investigated more families after 2011-12, increasing from 215 to 454. This finding was shared with 19 further authorities.

When asked to explain the variation, the Southampton authority said: “All children who were adopted were subject to rigorous scrutiny by the legal system and the Family Court, both of which agreed with the Local Authority that not only had the threshold for a Care Order been met, but that the Local Authority had exhausted all opportunity and support for any potential family or other carers: adoption was therefore the only realistic option.”

The report also suggests that public criticism of social workers is playing a role in increasing investigations, following several high-profile child deaths in the region.

“There is no doubt that public criticism of social workers if children have suffered will lead to an increased priority being given to child protection at the expense of maintaining family groups,” said Sir Mark Hedley, a former Family Court judge.

To read the full report, please click here.

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