Today I have written to the committee members of all sides of the political spectrum asking them to put forward an amendment to the Childrens and Families Bill currently at Commons committee reading stage. This build upon the online petition that I launched on Friday to highlight the plight of sibling groups in the Care System
The text of that letter can be read here:
Dear XXXXXXX MP,
I’m writing to ask you to submit an amendment to the Children and Families Bill, that will do more for adoptive families.
Could you imagine having to choose between your parents or your siblings? Well that is the case for children currently in the care system looking for their ‘forever families’. Children who need to be placed with their brothers and sisters, are one of the hardest groups to find adoptive families for, and the process is getting harder.
BAAF, a leading British adoption and fostering charity has published key research findings that shows:
“> 91% of adoption agencies said that there is a shortage of families willing to adopt sibling groups
> 80% of adoption agencies admitted it has become harder to find families for sibling groups within the last 10 years” (ref 1 BAAF, 2011)
The decision to start a family through adoption is often a big one, but in comparison deciding to start a family with 2 or more children is mammoth, and credit and support should be given to those who take on the task.
Children who are in care and needing adoption have had by definition a difficult start to their lives, and where possible and appropriate we should try to give them every chance to succeed in life. Most children needing adoption have additional support needs that new families need to cater for, and the initial phases of a placement are crucial to its success. When children are placed in sibling groups the amount of carer/parent ‘one to one’ time is less, than that of a child that is placed individually, by allowing up to 2 parents to take Adoption Leave, there will be a greater support available to the children during the initial phases, aid bonding and attachment, and reduce the perception of the size of the task/burden of taking on a sibling group.
There is also an economic incentive to HM Government pursuing this policy. Currently according to published figures (Ref. 2 BBC, 2009) the cost of care varies depending on placement type:
> One Child in a Care Home setting: £2428.00/wk – £126,256/yr
> One Child in a Foster Care setting: £489.00/wk – £25,428/yr
When this is compared to a child who enters an adoption placement this figure drops to
> One Child in Adoption setting (Statutory Adoption Pay): £135.45/wk – £7,043/yr
However it should be noted that Statutory Adoption Pay is only payable for 39 weeks meaning maximum cost to the welfare budget is £5,282.55, whereas the other two methods of care could be in place for up to 18yrs. It should also be noted that unlike the leave entitlement afforded to biological families there is no requirement for the parents employer to give 90% of their salary for the first 6 weeks of maternity leave, creating yet again a lower standard of support afforded to families.
I’m therefore urging you to submit an amendment to the Bill to give greater life chances for brothers and sisters in care to find a forever family, which could also create a net-saving to the welfare budget.
Ref 1. “Sibling groups may never find a permanent home through adoption, children’s charity warns”, BAAF, http://www.baaf.org.uk/node/3770 (31-10-2011)
Ref 2. “Time to bring back childrens homes?”, BBC, http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/04/time_to_bring_back_childrens_h.html (20-4-2009)