UK & World News
Adoption: 'Hotspots' Map Released To Cut Waits
A map showing the parts of England where most children are in need of adoptive parents has been published.
Education officials are concerned that prospective parents are often not being pointed to high-need areas if their own has few youngsters on its list.
The map is going online on the same day as a Government-funded hotline is launched offering advice from existing adopters on negotiating the process.
Children and families minister Edward Timpson said the initiatives should "arm would-be adopters with the information they need to approach any local area".
Rules allow people to apply to adopt from any part of the country.
Mr Timpson added: "We know many potential adopters out there can provide children with loving, stable homes but simply don't know where to start.
"These new tools will give many more people support in taking the first steps to adopting a child and giving them the chance to succeed in life."
But adoptive father Stevan Whitehead, from west London, told Sky News that the map is unlikely to have a big impact.
"It's not going to make any significant difference because it's not addressing the fundamental issues and problems in the overall adoption structure.
"We already know where all the children are. The problem is that local authorities are deterred from preparing sufficient adoptive parents," said Mr Whitehead, who is a trustee for the charity Adopt A Better Way.
The British Association of Social Workers branded the initiative a "gimmick aimed at 'exposing' an apparent world of local authority failure to find good homes for children".
"It is welcome to help signpost potential adopters to services that could help them to eventually take a child into their lives, but talk of 'hotspots', areas where children are spending the longest time 'waiting for new homes' is yet another example of this Government's simplistic approach to an incredibly complex subject," added BASW acting chief executive Bridget Robb.
The First4Adoption hotline can be accessed on 0300 222 0022 between 10am and 6pm Monday to Friday and the map can be accessed on the Department for Education website.