Fostering and adoption services in Scotland are continuing to perform well, according to the Care Inspectorate.
A new report published today showed that the quality of care experienced by children accessing fostering and adoption was high, with 97% graded ‘good’ or better at inspection.
There are many factors that influence the time taken to match children including complex history, the needs of the child and the legal situation often contribute to make it difficult for individual local authorities to match with a family. However, authorities are working to address issues to reduce the matching process.
Peter Macleod, the chief executive of the Care Inspectorate said: “Our job is to work closely with local authorities and independent organisations who provide adoption and fostering services.
“These services play a vital role in assessing, approving and supporting carers and prospective adoptive parents in caring for some of our most vulnerable children.
“From our inspections we know that the vast majority of these services perform very well. We are also well aware that tremendous work has gone on across the sector to innovate and make a real difference to the lives of children.
“By highlighting good practice and identifying areas which can improve, we help ensure that all children can get the best possible start in life.
“We also know that more high quality fostering and adoption places are needed for vulnerable children, and 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 permanent and loving relationships as quickly as possible, and an important part of this is almost always maintaining the strong bond between siblings.
“Sisters and brothers are often a great support and comfort at times of crisis, especially for young children.”
Tory health spokesperson Miles Briggs, said: "Whilst I understand that it is important to get the right match for children being adopted, a year is a very long time for a child to be left in limbo.
“Stability is crucial for a child’s development and the matching process must be reviewed so that children can be matched with approved adopters sooner.
At 31 March 2018, 97 per cent of the 38 inspected adoption services were evaluated as ‘good’ or better across all quality themes.
At 31 December 2017 there were 217 children, approved for adoption, waiting to be matched with approved adopters (down 5 per cent from 228 in 2016).
A quarter had been waiting for over one year. There were 60 fostering services in Scotland – 32 local authority and 28 voluntary / not-for-profit.
There were 3,823 approved foster carer households (down 4 per cent from 3,970 in 2016 and 13 per cent from 4,414 in 2015). Over half (58 per cent) were approved to provide permanent placements.
There were 5,315 children and young people in foster placements (down 2 per cent from 5,423 in 2016 and 9 per cent from 5,853 in 2015).
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “All adoptions are completed as quickly as is appropriate and possible, without detracting from the crucial safeguarding of children that these processes seek to ensure.
“The majority of children are matched with prospective adopters within a year, but some need more time. There are very good reasons why some adoption matches can take longer than others, including supporting sibling placements wherever possible.
“Such decisions are taken in the best interests of the child or children concerned to ensure the match with adopters meets their long term needs.”