Adoption video scheme put on hold over security fears
A government pilot scheme to make photos and videos of children available to potential adopters has been put on a back burner because of security concerns.
Children’s Minister Edward Timpson MP announced the scheme in July. The pilot was to be set up by the Adoption Register for England with 19 local authorities and 10 voluntary adoption agencies taking part. The register is a secure online database which currently allows adoption agencies and social workers to use the database. The plan was to allow approved potential adopters to use the database by September.
The pilot, which was to have lasted nine months, was intended to encourage adoption – especially of older and difficult to place children.
A spokesman from the Department for Education said the security of the scheme was an “overriding priority”. “This is a new service and it is crucial that we ensure the system is completely secure before launching the pilot.” He added the Adopter Access Pilot is still expected to be launched “soon”.
In England there are approximately 6,000 children awaiting adoption according to the Adoption Register and roughly 2000 of these have been waiting a year or more to find families.
Barnardo’s welcomed the attempt to expedite the adoption process but emphasised the vital need for strict child protection safeguards. Chief executive, Javed Khan “at this extremely vulnerable time” in their lives, children’s needs and expectations should be central to the process.
Timpson said: “Opening up the Adoption Register- allowing parents approved to adopt to see videos and pictures, to hear the children speak and laugh – while keeping in place the strictest safeguards – will give them a greater role in the process and ensure more children are placed with their new family much more quickly.”
Timpson has a particular interest in fostering and adoption, because his parents John and Alex fostered over 90 children and adopted two.
The adoption video scheme, according to Sue Brunton of BAAF, the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, is to put natural “chemistry” into the adoption process, allowing potential parents to “get a sense of what that child is like…photos and videos will bring that child alive.”