The Bill would give new powers to the Education Secretary to force local authorities to turn over their adoption service to another provider. The power will be used to create regional adoption services, which can be run either by local authorities jointly or by outside agencies.
While Labour MPs including Emma recognised that merging adoption services can have positive effects, Emma warned that by focusing too heavily on adoption the Government was missing opportunities to fix problems early on, and keep children united with their birth parents.
Speaking in the debate, Emma said:
“It is simply a mistake to focus on adoption to the exclusion of early intervention and other services that could keep a family together. Focusing on improving how children’s services work, reducing the administrative workload on social workers so that they can spend more time with families, and resisting the temptation to cut early years services such as Sure Start could prevent the need for adoptions.
“I find it concerning that when I have asked questions of Ministers and the Government in the past, they have shown little compunction to protect early years and child protection services, yet now they expect local authorities to restructure their adoption services, with all the costs that that will entail. Would the money not be better spent at the beginning of a child’s journey through social services, rather than towards the end?”
Emma also said that more needed to be done to address delays in the courts, and asked for more clarity on when the Government would use the powers in the Bill.
You can read Emma’s speech in full by clicking here.
Emma has been a regular speaker on adoption and child protection issues in Parliament. Earlier this month she explained how cuts to local authority budgets were resulting in delays and safeguarding failures for children.
Emma will sit on the Education and Adoption Bill Committee, which will consider the Bill in detail over the coming weeks.