New baby adoption scheme pioneered in Lancashire

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A NEW kind of adoption that offers a better start in life for babies is being pioneered in Lancashire.

Lancashire County Council is the first council in the North West – and one of only a handful in the country – to embark on an groundbreaking programme that places very young children with foster carers who may go on to adopt them.

Called “Concurrent Placements for Babies 0-2”, the programme is in its early stages, but social workers at the county council hope it could make a real difference for babies and very young children who cannot remain with their own families.

Catrina Dickens, who is leading the project, said: “Sometimes babies come into our care at birth or soon after if their parents cannot care for them. They’re then looked after by foster carers while we work with their parents to see if they can go home.

“If this isn’t possible, the family court process can take many months, and after that of course the baby has to move again, to his or her adoptive parents.

“Our new programme does this differently. It places a baby or very young child straight away with their prospective adopters, who are also approved to act as foster carers, while the birth family is assessed and the court makes a decision.

“This does of course mean that there’s a degree of uncertainty for the adopters, because they can’t be completely sure they’re going to keep the baby – there is always a chance the child might go home. But we feel that it’s better for the adults involved to bear that risk and uncertainty and for the baby to have the chance of a more secure start in life; if they are adopted, they’ll have been with their adoptive family throughout.”

Catrina added: “We know this isn’t for everyone and that some people don’t feel they could cope with the risk that they might have to give up a child they had grown to love. But we already have a few couples who feel that, with support, they could have the resilience to try this route to adoption. And of course they would have the benefit of caring for a child from the very start.”

For more information about Concurrent Placements for Babies 0-2, or about adoption and fostering in Lancashire, ring 0800 028 6349 or visit: www.lancashire.gov.uk/love