There is no-one in the country who does not believe that children placed in care should be adopted as quickly as possible if that is the right way forward for them. Going into care is good for no child and we see former inmates of children’s homes being far more likely to be residents of homeless hostels or worse years down the line.
Crude league tables and naming and shaming however will not improve the situation. We need to recognise a number of factors that affect rates of placement.
1. Councils are not the only agency involved in adoption. Family courts have a major role to play in this work and decision making. They too operate with different levels of efficiency. Often there are police and legal issues involved.
2. Councils operate in widely different circumstances. Crudely put councils in tougher urban areas have greater need and few people coming forward as prospective parents. Income plays a part, the housing that people have is crucial. Mixed race problems need to be carefully handled.
3. Generally as economic conditions get harder adoption rates fall as people make economic as well as family decisions.
I am not defending poorly performing councils. If there are councils who just cannot cope we need to understand that and do something about them. One way forward is peer intervention and training not draconian take overs.
The trouble with league tables is that they are crude; they take no account of the circumstances of the council and therefore give few guides to the efficacy of the team.
I wonder if the same will apply to this league table as it does to schools. Many of the teachers in the schools at the top of the table just could not cope at all in a school at the bottom of the table. What we need is careful analysis and not half baked knee jerk reactions from someone as patently ill informed as Cameron. As always central government prefers to highlight possible problems in local government than put right clear problems with their own agencies and operating bodies.