ADOPTION RATES are at risk of backtracking on years of progress, it is warned today, as an investigation from the YEP lays bare the plight of thousands of children across the region.
In Leeds, 256 children were placed with an adoptive parent or parents last year, but at the end of March there were 1,266 youngsters in the city in the care of children’s services.
Meanwhile in Wakefield, 41 children - all under the age of eight - were made by the end of 2014, while 503 remained in care.
It is feared that the stark contrast in the number of those in care and the number of successful adoptions is evidence of the impact of recent judgements which are said to have left local councils frightened of removing them from birth families. This includes a High Court ruling in September 2013 from president of the family division Sir James Munby stipulated that social services must provide evidence that “all realistic options” had been considered before severing a child’s ties with its birth family.
Leeds-based family law expert Peter Morris, of law firm Irwin Mitchell, said that Sir James’ remarks and other high-profile cases had created negative publicity for the process.
“There is increased pressure on local authorities to place a child within their birth families if they possibly can, they look to the extended family, and it has eschewed the way they deal with things on the ground,” he said.
Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive member responsible for children and families at Leeds Council, said: “Despite many challenges over the past year the fostering and adoption services continue to contribute to improving the lives of the most vulnerable children and young people who are looked after by the council.
“As part of our ambition to be a child friendly city we want all children and young people in Leeds to grow up in a stable, safe and loving family.”