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The number of babies being adopted in Britain has plunged by 20 per cent in the last year, Government figures have shown.
Only 76 children under one were permanently taken on by UK families in 2011, down from 95 in 2010. David Cameron is trying to speed up the process because many children are stuck in care for long periods from birth, despite prospective parents being desperate to adopt them.
At the moment people have to wait on average two and a half years to have their application processed but the Prime Minister wants this down to three months.
Adoptions also increased in Scotland between 2010 and 2011 by 6 per cent, from 466 in 2010 to 494 in 2011.
Mission: David Cameron has said he is determined to speed up the adoption process, which currently takes more than two years In a reverse of last year’s figures, 49 per cent of children adopted in 2011 were male and 51 per cent were female. Since 1998, the number of male and female adoptions has been fairly even, the ONS said.
Nearly two-thirds - 62 per cent - of children adopted in Britain last year were aged between one and four. The proportion of adopted children aged one to four has steadily increased since 1998. Last year’s figure is almost double the proportion in 1998.
Meanwhile, the proportions of adoptions of other age groups has decreased. For children aged between five and nine, the proportion has decreased from more than a third in 1998 to just under a quarter in 2011. The percentage of children between 10 and 14 being adopted has more than halved from over one in five in 1998 to one in 10 in 2011. The percentage of adopted children aged 15 to 17 has decreased to 2 per cent, from 5 per cent in 1998.
Under Mr Cameron's plans youngsters will be able to move in with their possible future permanent families before lengthy legal procedures are finalised, the Prime Minister said last month.
He hopes the Fostering For Adoption scheme will give children a better start in life by ensuring they have a stable home as quickly as possible. Under the plans, men and women who have been cleared as adopters can become a child’s foster parent until they are legally allowed to adopt them. Now, local authorities generally wait until court orders are made before beginning their search for a permanent home.
The move will not pre-empt any legal ruling, meaning the youngsters could be returned to their birth parents or other carers. But the Government hopes it will mean the interests of the children are put first.
Article: 7th August 2012 www.dailymail.co.uk