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East Lancashire adoption bill to increase
BLACKBURN children adopted by families outside of the town will leave the council with a bill for an extra £500,000 after fees more than doubled.
When parents from a different district adopt a child from Blackburn with Darwen, they are trained by their own local authority.
However, the child’s local authority is responsible for covering the costs involved with the entire process.
Under new rules aimed at closing the gap between the voluntary sector and local authorities, that fee will now increase from £14,000 to £28,500.
Despite the long-term benefits of adoption, the increase would ‘create significant pressure’ on its budget, the council said in a report.
Portfolio holder for children’s services at Blackburn with Darwen Council, Frank Connor, said: “The government have, in their wisdom, decided it wants to align adoption placement fees between the private sector and local authorities, backdated too.
“It would also work the other way around but children tend to be adopted by those in more affluent areas.”
Coun Connor said the fee would still be cheaper than fostering or for caring for children in a home.
But he added: “The cost of the decision by the government is in the region of £450,000 to £500,000 to the borough.”
Nearly 25 per cent of children in care in Blackburn with Darwen have an adoption plan and 89 children are currently awaiting adoption.
Figures released last year showed hundreds of children across Lancashire were waiting longer than the national average to be placed with adoptive families.
A total of 55 children were placed for adoption by Lancashire County Council between March 2011 and March 2012, figures showed, out of 1,325 children being cared for.
A spokeswoman for the county council said they had been paying the £28,500 for some time.
Blackburn with Darwen Council looked after 360 children, and placed 10 for adoption, in the same period.
Chief executive of Child Action North West, Sue Cotton, said the increase will encourage authorities ‘to look at what is in the best interest of the children rather than the cheapest option’.
She said: “It’s about looking at it in the long term. Initially, it will impact on the budget but it’s about more children getting families quicker.
“If there are a lot of families ready and waiting, the finances should not be a restriction.”
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