The Children and Families Act 2014 concerns itself, amongst other things, with adoption reform, including the “foster-to-adopt” policy; but what changes has the Act made to the law – for good or for ill?
Part 1 of the Children and Families Act 2014 concerns Adoption and Contact. As care proceedings solicitors, in is adoption reform as covered in Section 2 of the Act, Placement of looked after children with prospective adopters – the foster-to-adopt system – that concern us the most.
The local authority, when considering adoption for a child in the care system – even though not yet having the authority to place the child up for adoption – must look to place the child with a foster carer who is also approved as a prospective adopter, if a no suitable family or friend carer comes forward.
This “foster-to-adopt” procedure is dangerous in that it allows the local authority to place such children on the Adoption and Children Act Register to help find suitable adopters for them, even if that means that the child may not necessarily be kept within the local authority’s area.
It has even been indicated in the Contextual Information to the Bill (page 26) by the Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, that these provisions could apply in the first week a child is in care, or even before the child is born.
This clause opens the door to injustice in that it may be applied to any looked after child – even those placed “temporarily” into care by agreement with the parents. In voluntary accommodation and pre-birth cases, care proceedings to determine if the child should be permanently removed will be utterly bypassed, leaving the parents with no legal advice as to their options until it is too late.
Additionally, these adoption reforms could lead to the formation of attachments between the child and the prospective adopters. Any court then considering the case would have to face the argument that it would be better for the child to stay with the adopters than to return to their parents as the breaking of these attachments would be contrary to the child’s welfare.
Another concern is that the adoption reforms laid out by the Act could potentially eliminate the opportunity for friends and family carers. The the local authority’s duty to give preference to such care arrangements no longer applies once adoption is considered. So unless a friend or family member comes forward early in the proceedings, such an opportunity would be lost. And, if the child could be entered into the foster-to-adopt plan and placed with potential adopters within a week of entering the care system, that window of opportunity is narrow indeed.Contact Us Now
Brendan Fleming Solicitors are nationally recognized as a leading choice in the area of care work. We are justifiably proud of our expertise and our success rate. We are contracted to the Legal Services Commission for this type of work and are considered to be one of the leading national firms for publicly funded services.
Our principal, Brendan Fleming, has won a reputation for his innovative approach, spearheading many new ways of securing justice for families caught in the care proceedings trap. He is a member of a select children’s panel and recognized and approved by the Law Society.
If you are concerned that the new adoption reforms may affect you and your family, see how we can help you: contact Brendan Fleming Solicitors today.