[Well, this is almost certainly the only time Michael Jackson has appeared in a blog on child protection...oh, wait, maybe not]
The Government have published its draft proposals to amend the Adoption and Children Act 2002.
They can be found here :-
The first is a duty on Local Authorities to place children who they intend to adopt in a Fostering for Adoption placement (more usually called ‘concurrency’ placement) if possible.
The second is the removal of section 1 (5) from the Act.
Section 1(5) currently reads :- In placing the child for adoption, the adoption agency must give due consideration to the child’s religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background.
And it follows section 1(4) which is the welfare checklist.
It seems to be the view of the Government that those meddling politically correct Local Authorities (can you be politically correct if politicians correct you?) have been viewing s 1(5) as if it has superior status to s 1 (4) – in which case, the thing to do would have been to shift it to one item in the welfare checklist, surely?
So they have just nuked it from orbit, that being, after all, the only way to be sure.
So the new section 1(5) will say “In Wales only In placing the child for adoption, the adoption agency must give due consideration to the child’s religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background.”
For some reason there aren’t any politically correct meddling do-gooder social workers, or perhaps there are no ethnic minorities, or maybe there’s some other reason inexplicable to me.
The explanatory notes do suggest that those factors still come into the welfare checklist as part of the child’s background and other relevant characteristics; but will no longer require any additional weight.
I don’t know – I have seen in my travels about the country some quirky adoption panels who wanted to talk at length about the African heritage of someone whose paternal great–great-grandfather had been from Senegal, though the other 31/32nds of their heritage was British and had lived in Britain all their lives. But on the other hand, I am not as convinced as Michael Gove seems to be that there is a queue of white people desperate to adopt children of ethnic minorities, if only those pesky social workers would let them.
Nor am I convinced that nuking s1(5) has any real impact on s33 (6) of the Children Act
(a)cause the child to be brought up in any religious persuasion other than that in which he would have been brought up if the order had not been made;
So if the child in question had been more example, from parents who were practising Muslims, or Sikhs, I think there are still issues about whether a Local Authority is in breach of s33(6) by not at least TRYING to match with people who will follow that faith. If they search and fail, then so be it, but it seems to me that s33(6) still envisages that a LA will try to have the child brought up in the religious faith he or she would have been brought up in had the Care Order (and by extension Placement Order) were not made.
Unless we’re going to start doing that nifty and little known Adoption and Children Act trick where you can make a section 21 Placement Order without ever making a Care Order PROVIDED the threshold criteria are made out. (I’ve only ever done that once, in a peculiar case where the parents agreed s20 of the child and so care order wasn’t needed, but opposed Placement Order)
Anyway, if you have a view on the proposals, feed them back to the Government. They seem to be happy to make policy on about 50 people responding to a consultation, so you may be in luck…