In numbers: Adoption in Scotland

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There are more than twice as many children on the Adoption Register needing a family than prospective adopters offering one, findings by Scotland’s Adoption Register reveal

The number of children referred to the register rose from 184 to 205 in 2014-2015 while the number of adopters fell from 122 to 110. This reflects reports from a number of agencies who say it has been particularly challenging to recruit as many adopters as they would like.

Scotland’s Adoption Register, which began operating in 2011, plays a central role in finding homes for children who are unable to live as part of their own family and where the best place for them to grow up within a secure and settled adoptive family.

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Out of over 15,000 children looked after by local authorities, 455 of them were adopted in 2014, the latest National Records for Scotland records show

Of the children in the care of local authorities, 27 per cent were looked after in a home and 36 per cent were looked after by foster carers. While in foster care, a significant number of them were in two or more placements between April 2014 and March 2015, a Freedom of Information request by the charity Action of Children disclosed.

According to the charity, children and young people who regularly move between foster care homes looking for a stable family home are more likely to have poor social skills, reduced education outcomes and limited future employment prospects which may impact on their mental health and exacerbate any existing behavioural and emotional issues. Their figures revealed that there were 4,997 foster children in care in Scotland during the time period and out of that figure, 1,967 foster children had moved twice or more

Of the 205 children referred the Adoption Register, there were significantly more boys than girls, a difference that has become even more pronounced in recent years. This difference has also been replicated in the children looked after in public care - 8,285 of whom were boys and 7,295 were girls.

Age remains one of the key factors determining the likelihood of a placement being found.

In the Register’s first four years, only 4 children over the age of 7 have been matched even though there are currently 10 children aged 8 or above currently on the register and 12 per cent of the children referred during 2014/15 were aged six or over.

45 of the referrals to the register came from local authorities, representing a fall in the number from last year due to the difficulty some authorities have recruiting families.

Robin Duncan, adoption register manager believes that the newly developed system is working well. He said: “The register is working really well at identifying matches for children and families particularly for children who might not otherwise be found an adoptive family. Despite the success of the register, we still don’t have enough adoptive families in Scotland for all the children needing placements – we particularly struggle to find families for children who are a bit older or have complicated needs – such as learning difficulties.”

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A new set of regulations will come into force in April next year that will make it a requirement for all children registered as needing adoption, and all families approved as adopters, to be referred to the Register – i.e. making the Register a compulsory rather than a voluntary arrangement. The aim is to make it easier and quicker to find placements for children who need adoption.

Scottish Adoption Week starts on the 24 October. For more information or if you are interested in adoption visit Scottish Adoption.

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