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damages for Lost Opportunity to be Adopted? – Maybe not after all

30 September 2011

DofE statistics show that around 4000 babies under the age of one were adopted in 1976 but this fell to 150 in 2007 and was down to just 60 in 2010. This is partly cultural, partly because the process takes over a year and partly because good practice requires social workers to try and keep families together.

Alongside all of this, local authorities are increasingly being asked to pay damages for failing to remove children from inadequate families early enough. Claimant lawyers often argue that delay means their clients have missed an opportunity to be successfully placed with an adoptive family, instead growing up in foster or institutional care. They say this part of the claim alone is worth at least £50,000.

Local authorities take heart – this latest report shows how difficult it is going to be to succeed in these arguments. Three quarters of children in care are placed with foster parents with a remaining 12% in residential accommodation. This suggests that only 10 to 12% are suitable to be even considered for adoption.

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