Health Minister Robin Swann welcomes confirmation that the Adoption and Children Bill can be introduced to the Northern Ireland Assembly following summer recess.
The Bill enhances and updates the legal framework for adoption in Northern Ireland and removes unnecessary delay and uncertainty for children.
The Minister said: “I am firmly committed to reforming the adoption process and to bringing forward legislation that will place care planning and advocacy services on a statutory basis. Reform of the adoption process and improving support for families in need, children in care and care leavers, is long overdue.”
The introduction of legislation in Northern Ireland will bring it in line with the changes made in the rest of the United Kingdom in 2002 and 2007.
The Minister continued: “I want to remove the unnecessary delay and uncertainty that currently exists for many children and to make it possible for more people to consider adoption.
“For children in care and care leavers I want to place care planning and advocacy services on a statutory basis and prevent disruption to their education and training and to prepare them for adulthood and independent living.”
The Bill will also create greater opportunities for older children to benefit from permanence and stability by offering them an alternative route to adoption.
Concluding the Minister said: “There are many strands to this Bill that will enable positive change to be made. I look forward to bringing this to the house at the first available opportunity in September. All children deserve to be cared for in stable, nurturing environments enabling them to grow into mature, balanced adults. That must be a fundamental right in the 21st century.”