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Struggling economy and bad publicity over some national cases hindering bid to find adoption homes for children in Bradford area
Prospective adopters are being urged to come forward after it was revealed the number of children in Bradford waiting for an adoptive family has gone up by nearly a third in a year.
A Bradford Council report has revealed Bradford has 87 children waiting to be housed with an adoptive family, compared to 66 in 2010/11.
But a drive to attract more families to adopt children has been pushed forward following an investment of £110,000 to recruit three new social workers.
Councillor Ralph Berry , the council’s executive member for children and young people’s services, said he believed the number had risen as a result of the economic downturn and the impact of bad publicity relating to cases including Baby Peter, the 17-month-old boy who died in London after being seen by Haringey Children’s Services and NHS health professionals.
Councillor Berry told the Telegraph & Argus he expected the number of children waiting to be adopted to fall following the appointment of the new social workers, but urged families from a broad range of backgrounds to continue to come forward.
He said: “We have increased the rate at which we are recruiting families and approving them so that figure should come down – every local authority, as far as I’m aware, has seen a similar rise.
“Bradford has decided to really push ahead and get as far ahead as we possibly can, which is why we have taken on three additional social workers at a time of considerable cut-backs.
“We are investing more money into this service and we are getting more people coming forward, so we are making progress.
“We are still experiencing some issues today with the downturn, the impact of the Baby Peter effect, there’s been much more pressure in terms of publicity on a number of safeguarding issues.
“We just had the full safeguarding inspection, which we moved from satisfactory to good.”
The report to the committee, which meets on Tuesday, says in the last year a total of 38 approvals for adopters have been made, compared to 81 registers of interest. This is an increase from the 33 approvals out of 75 registers of interest in 2010/11.
The report states between April 2011 to March 2012 there were 283 inquiries, of which 260 were specifically about adoption. A total of 52 per cent of these were from white British families, 38 per cent Pakistani, five per cent Indian and the remainder included a range of white and black African Caribbean.
Councillor Berry said he was “wholly opposed” to placing children with no regard to race and religion.
He said: “We look at all the needs of the children very carefully and their racial, religious and other cultural issues are part of it – there are a range of things that need to be considered.
“I do not believe Bradford or other authorities anywhere have been blocking or keeping children in inappropriate placements just because they can’t find a politically-correct tickbox match.
“The best way to deal with this, as ever, is to ensure a good range of potential adopters come forward.
“I’m wholly opposed to placing children with no regard to the race and religion background.”