Adoption unit is inadequate

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COUNTY adoption services have come in for heavy criticism after being branded inadequate by inspectors.

Ofsted’s damning report of Northamptonshire County Council’s adoption service considered it inadequate – the lowest of four rankings – and warned the authority it must improve.

The county council has said it has already started work to try to get back on track.

Charlie MacNally, director of adult and children’s services, said: “While we are concerned and disappointed by the judgement, we are confident we will improve this service quickly.

“We have already started this work and believe that we can meet the recommendations within a matter of months.”

The council came under fire for delays in the adoption process, with Ofsted saying the service did not reach national minimum standards and did not adhere to adoption guidelines.

The inspection also found evidence that birth parents were not consulted in reports on the child’s background and needs.

But Ofsted did find that adopted children were safe in their placements, and the council has said changes are under way in the bid to improve the process.

Mr MacNally added: “We had already recognised areas that needed to be improved in the service and prior to the inspection had made changes.

“Ofsted felt the journey to improvement was such that had the inspection taken place in six months time she would have seen a very different picture.”

Government figures last year found that on average over a three-year period, only 68 per cent of children were adopted within 12 months, which ranked them 110th out of 142 local authorities.

Ofsted has recommended that the council strives to place children within these 12 months, and it must devise a strategy to try to recruit more adopters.