Select Committee on Select Committee on the Adoption and Children Bill Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Barnardo's

  I am writing in response to the Select Committee's press notice dated 11 April to request that Barnardo's be considered as a potential oral evidence witness to the Committee, on the Adoption and Children Bill.

  As the UK's largest children's charity, we work with over 47,000 children and young people in their families and communities. We currently have ten projects across the UK involved in adoption work. Eight provide placements for children looked after by local authorities and two provide counselling and support to the parties to adoption. Children who are referred to us tend to be older, disabled, in sibling groups or need a racially and culturally appropriate placement. However, we have in recent years received an increasing number of referrals of pre-school children. All our adoption placement projects offer foster care but this varies from permanent placement only to the full range, from shortbreaks to permanence. One of our counselling projects also undertakes Guardian ad Litem and reporting officer duties. In addition to our own projects, we also provide financial support to various regional post-adoption services. This includes pump priming a new service in the Eastern Counties and a satellite of After Adoption in the North East and providing accommodation for the London Post-Adoption Centre. We are committed to the provision of high quality adoption services.

  Barnardo's welcomes the Adoption and Children Bill as a key plank in the Government's programme to modernise the adoption system for the benefit of children and support many of the Bill's measures such as:

    —  achieving consistency between adoption and the 1989 Children Act, with the child's welfare being paramount and the application of the welfare checklist;

    —  the requirement to give consideration to the child's religious persuasion, racial origin, cultural and linguistic background;

    —  the duty to public a local authority plan for the provision of adoption services;

    —  the new provisions for special guardianship which could potentially provide a real alternative option for children for whom adoption will not be appropriate.

  However, we are concerned about some specific areas of the Bill such as the Adoption Support Services (Clauses 3, 4 and 5), the provisions contained in Clause 4 do give rise to considerable concern, and Access to Information (Clauses 47, 48 and 49). We would wish to concentrate on these areas in presenting oral evidence to the Committee.

  I hope that the Committee will feel able to consider Barnardo's as a potential witness for this Bill and look forward to hearing from you soon.

April 2001

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