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Health

Progress on the Adoption and Children Bill

Speaking following the second reading of the Adoption and Children Bill, Health Minister Robin Swann has welcomed the progress on the Bill.

The Bill will modernise the legal framework for adoption in Northern Ireland and improve outcomes for children and families in need, children in care and those who have left care.

The Minister said: “The Adoption and Children Bill is a critical piece of legislation that will ensure children are put firmly at the centre of the adoption process. 

“I want to cut unnecessary delays and uncertainty for children and improve support mechanisms for everyone involved in adoption. I am committed to making the adoption process as efficient and robust as possible.” 

There are currently 3,564 looked after children in Northern Ireland, an increase of 45% since 2002 and 6% since the beginning of the pandemic.

The Minister continued: “The Bill will improve support for children in need, children in care and those who have left care. These improvements are particularly vital at a time when there are more children in care than ever before in Northern Ireland.”

The Bill is the outworking of the Department’s commitment to legislative reform. The wide-ranging reforms that it will bring about are long overdue, mirroring changes that were introduced for England and Wales in 2002 and for Scotland in 2007.

The Minister concluded: “Now more than ever, we need foster carers and prospective adopters to offer a safe, stable and caring home for children who cannot live with their family.  Foster carers and adoptive parents have the ability to transform the life of a child or young person.  I encourage anyone thinking of adopting or becoming a foster carer to take that step and find out the difference they can make by offering a child a loving family home.”

ENDS

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