Post by Aileen Campbell, Minister for Children and Young People
I never fail to feel inspired when I talk to adoptive families, and hear about the hugely positive difference adoption can make, to both adopters and children. The Scottish Government’s ambition is to make Scotland the best place for a child to grow up. We know that living in a secure, stable and nurturing home with a loving family is the best way to ensure that our children and young people get the best start in life.
Adoptive families across Scotland provide the love and security that all children deserve and we want more children to be able to experience this.
The Adoption Register has a key part to play here by enabling children to be matched with potential families from across the country, rather than limiting opportunities within a local authority area. Since its establishment in April 2011, I am pleased to say that the Register has made 127 matches and I look forward to those numbers increasing still further.
It should be added that 17 of the Register’s matches were sibling groups which accounted for 35 children. This year’s theme of National Adoption Week is the importance of sibling groups and celebrating the importance of our siblings. We know that it is often in the best interests of looked after siblings to find a family together, rather than experiencing the additional trauma of being separated from their brothers or sisters. But just as importantly, those who adopt siblings can also find the experience a very rewarding and fulfilling one.
Through the Children and Young People Act 2014, the Scottish Government has put Scotland’s Adoption Register on a statutory basis ensuring that matches can be identified for more children, more quickly. We are now developing regulations which will lay out the detailed operation of the Adoption Register. We will be consulting formally on those regulations in spring next year, and expect them to come into force in April 2016.
The Register is continuing to expand its activities, including national adoption exchange days where prospective adopters have an opportunity to learn more about children who are waiting to be adopted. An encouraging 38 matches have already been made as a direct result of the 9 national exchange days held so far. The Register is also developing a pilot for Scotland’s first adoption activity day, where adopters meet a range of children waiting to be adopted in a prepared, supported, safe and fun environment. I look forward to hearing about the success of this kind of innovative approach in due course.
This time last year, I welcomed the Care Inspectorate’s report on The Quality and Performance of Adoption Agencies in Scotland 2011 – 2013, which found that we were delivering good quality adoption services to looked after children and adopters across Scotland. I made clear, however, that there was much still to do – particularly in relation to the speed with which adoption, and other forms of legal permanence, could be secured.
Since then, we have been working with CELCIS – the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children – to establish our PACE – Permanence and Care Excellence- programme in Aberdeen City and Renfrewshire. The programme aims to reduce drift and delay for looked after children in achieving permanence. It brings together all partners in a local area to develop improvement projects that identify ways of improving children’s journeys to permanence – focusing on the needs of children rather that the needs of the various systems. We plan to expand the PACE programme to other local authorities over the next three years; sharing learning to support further local improvement across Scotland.
As part of National Adoption Week, I was delighted to attend an event hosted by BAAF- British Association for Adoption and Fostering- at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on Wednesday, which celebrated adoption and the importance of brothers and sisters, through writing and music.
National Adoption Week provides an important opportunity to raise awareness of the benefits that come with adoption, not only in improving the life chances of children but also for adoptive parents themselves. I would urge anyone who has ever wondered whether adoption might be for them, to contact BAAF or their local adoption agency, to find out more.
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