Wiltshire

Wiltshire Council tackles adoption wait times

Wiltshire Council has begun speeding up its adoption process after being told to make "urgent" improvements.

The national average time for a child to be placed with a family is 20 months. In Wiltshire it was 26 months.

The council says it has managed to cut this to 24 months and a new system is being set up to speed up matching children with suitable families.

If sufficient progress is not made by the end of December, government officials will take over the service.

'Intrusive'

Last October, the Department for Education issued an urgent improvement notice, based on an Ofsted inspection last April.

Inspectors wanted to see improvements in a number of areas, including setting stricter targets, immediate action to clear a backlog of unallocated cases and ensuring the views of children involved were taken into account.

The service was also told to set up an Improvement Board with an independent chairman and, within one month, agree a plan with that board to improve the performance of the adoption service.

The time the council takes to place a child for adoption also needed to be reduced, inspectors said.

The backlog has since been cleared, the council said.

Social worker Leona McKenna, said: "Getting the right match for a child is a huge undertaking and it is decision that will not be taken lightly.

"We will not be rushed into making a match for a child, we want to make sure that we get it right.

"It is intrusive and it is intrusive for a reason because we need to find the best families for Wiltshire children.

"We are a friendly bunch and will try to make the process as less intimidating for people as we could."

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