Councils make it harder for families who rent – or who do not “perfectly fit ethnic groups” – to adopt and allow children to “hop around the system” waiting to find a home, the education minister said.
Gavin Williamson urges local authorities to give up “bigotry” and “out of date messages” to encourage potential adopters looking to give a child a stable home to come forward.
Too often prospective families face a “bureaucratic system with too many boxes to tick” and with too many lifestyle judgments, warns Williamson in a speech at National Adoption Week.
The Department of Education (DfE) said the latest numbers suggest that around 2,400 children are waiting to be adopted, but there are just over 1,800 adopter adopters ready to give them a home.
According to the DfE, children with black and ethnic minorities (BME) often wait the longest for adoption.
The Education Minister said there was “no acceptable reason” to block adopters from registering simply because there are no children of the same ethnicity waiting to be adopted.
Mr Williamson said, “When it comes to adoption, all we can call for several years is narrow-mindedness or even snobbery.
“For example, some local authorities make adoption difficult if you rent your home instead of owning it, or if you are not a perfect ethnic couple.
“This stale news puts off people who would otherwise be in touch when the only qualification you need is the ability to love and care for a child.
“I urge local authorities to help us break down these barriers so we can reunite more children with the families they so deserve.”
A campaign will be launched over the next month to reach churches, mosques and other groups and encourage more potential BME users to get in touch.
Mr Williamson has announced an additional £ 2.8m in funding for Voluntary Adoption Agencies (VAAs) to help them continue their adoption activities during the pandemic.
The Minister of Education will say that too many local authorities are putting up barriers to adoption.
In a speech, Mr. Williamson will say, “The reality in too many places is still that if you are not that middle-class person, it is much harder for you to be accepted into adoption. This must change.
“The only qualification people need to worry about is whether or not they can love and care for a child.
“Of course there must be controls, there must be processes. And let me be clear, this is not about relaxing protective measures.
“I’m talking about the kind of lifestyle judgment that has made adoption a daunting and even intrusive experience for too many.”
Earlier this year, the DfE provided local authorities and regional adoption agencies with £ 6.5 million to help adoptive families during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Judith Blake, Chair of the Local Government Association (LGA) Children and Youth Committee, said: “The councils are committed to finding loving homes for all children who need them, including encouragement from people of all backgrounds and circumstances to to report when they are able to adopt loving, stable homes.
“Progress has been made in the past few years, with significant reductions in delays and with the Adoption Assistance Fund providing invaluable assistance to families, including preventing adoption failures.
She added: “Finding the right match for a child is not easy and the councils and their partners rightly take a holistic view of children in their care to ensure they thrive in their eternal home and not the trauma of an adoption breakdown go through.
“For many children, placement with families of the same ethnic background is extremely important for cultural and identity reasons, and this must not be overlooked.”