Foster and adoption spaces fall

Wednesday 24th July 2019

The number of homes ready to foster or adopt children and young people has fallen in Scotland, new figures show.

A report from the Care Inspectorate shows 280 households were approved for adoption in 2018, down from 317 in 2017.

Foster carer households also decreased over the same time, with 3,758 at the end of last year, compared to 3,823 in 2017.

The Care Inspectorate report found fostering and adoption services are continuing to perform well in Scotland.

However it highlighted the need for more placements amid concerns that too many children are being separated from their siblings when a new home is found for them.

There were 38 registered adoption services and 60 fostering services in 2018, which includes both those run by local authorities and independently.

Inspectors from the watchdog rated 90% of fostering services and 95% of adoption services as ‘good’ or better. 

Overall, the number of children and young people using fostering services fell from 5,315 in 2017 to 5,171 in 2018.

However 232 were waiting for a permanent foster placement to become available and there were 29 children waiting for a foster care placement to become available.

The figures also show 24% of sibling groups in foster care were separated upon placement.

The report noted: “As in previous years, recruiting households that would foster sibling groups was a challenge for many fostering services, particularly local authority ones, with 69% finding it difficult compared to 31% of independent services.”

In 2018, 286 children were legally adopted – down 13% from 328 the previous year.

Overall, 194 children were waiting to be matched with an adoptive home – with 22% waiting for more than a year.

Reasons given by services for delays included difficulty finding matches for larger sibling groups or children with complex needs.

Peter Macleod, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate, said the services played a vital role in assessing and supporting carers and prospective adoptive parents, and the ‘vast majority perform very well’.

He added: “We also know that more high-quality fostering and adoption places are needed for vulnerable children.

“We are also aware that too many children are separated from their siblings when a place is found for them.

“It is important that children in care are supported to form loving relationships as quickly as possible, and an important part of this is almost always maintaining the strong bond between siblings.”