Adoption - time for real change

When the government announces the appointment of a "czar" for anything these days there is a collective groan as another high-profile person, ill-equipped for the job, (but newsworthy) is wheeled out.

The previous government discovered the media value of one day of headlines, followed by a report, and then inevitable inaction.

However, czars may be changing.

Martin Narey the former head of the Prison Service and more recently the chief executive of Barnado's has been appointed to get adoption back on the agenda and raise the number of children adopted every year.

This is going to be a tough job, encouraging local authorities and social services to be more pro-active in placing children for adoption. Mr Narey's job is to remove delays in the system and speed-up the adoption process for those that wish to adopt.

Here are some of the issues with the current system:

1. Older children are frequently seen as too difficult to place for adoption, so resources (people and time) are not dedicated to them.

2. Adoption of children from ethnic minorities by white parents is actually discouraged. As local authorites wait for the "best match" to become available. This means children from ethnic minorities spend longer in the care system. Only 10% of children from ethnic minorities in care are adopted, compared to 35% of white children.

It would appear that over-sensitivity to supposed cultural differences is actually coming before the interests of the child. Though well-meaning it is actually naive, ignorant and damaging.

It also leads to the ludicrous situtation whereby a family from say London will travel to China to adopt, because they are unable to adopt a child in their own borough. Frequently the children they are unable to adopt will be from an ethnic minority.

Interestingly this proposed shake-up will not require time consuming (and pointless) legislation. The problems in the system are well known and the cures can be simple and swift.

Mr Narey has a reputation for ruffling feathers and getting things done - he is the person for the job. But please no "adoption czar" he is the "Ministerial Adviser on Adoption".

A very polite title for someone who will ensure that change - is adopted.