New figures show fewer children in Portsmouth are being adoptedÂ
THE number of Portsmouth children finding adoptive families significantly dropped this year compared to in 2017, and the council is urging prospective adopters to come forward.
Figures from Portsmouth City Council's latest children and families report showed that between April 2017 and March 2018 a total of 30 children were adopted. But during the current financial year only seven children have been adopted so far.
This is also down from the 2016 financial year when 35 children were adopted.
Similarly adopter recruitment fell, which was in line with national trend, something that council officers are hopeful can be reversed by the formation of a new regional adoption service, Adopt South.
Alison Jeffery, the council's director of children's services, said: 'We're always trying to increase the number of potential adopters as it's vital that we match children with the right forever family.
'We have worked with Southampton and Hampshire to create a new joint regional adoption agency which will be in place next year. This will Â increase the pool of adopters across the region which is important as it's often necessary to place children out of the city.'
The new regional agency could also reduce the council's costs for adoption.
Children's services at the council has one of the authority's largest overspends and is currently facing a Â£5.6m deficit for 2018/19. The spend on looked after children, which includes adoption and foster care, amounts for the highest percentage of this, costingÂ Â£4,996,000 more this year than expected.
But adoption costs have remained relatively small within this budget, spending Â£545,571 of a predicted Â£350,000.
This is partly due to the fact that 75 per cent of children in need of adoption were matched with Portsmouth approved families, and 25 per cent were found by other agencies. Adopt South would see even less children needing to be placed by outside agencies, keeping costs down.
In the report Jackie Clark, the council's adoption service leader, said: 'This reflects Portsmouth being proactive with wide-scale family finding for children particularly with complex needs, which may take time, but has secured the most suitable families for those children.
'One of the benefits of Portsmouth becoming part of the regional adoption agency is reducing the number and costs of children placed with other agency adoptive families.'
Portsmouth has an average of 31 children needing adoptive families at any time over the course of a year.
The council is holding an adoption recruitment day on January 26 at the Holiday Inn Express in Farlington between 10am and 1pm. Anyone interested in adopting can contact the council via [email protected]Â or call Â 023 9287 5294.