Adoption can make an extraordinary difference to a child's life. Adoption transforms the lives of some of the most neglected and abused children in the UK. Vulnerable children in our city need a loving home and we need to find adoptive parents to give them just that.
This week is National Adoption Week, which aims to raise awareness of adoption and to encourage more people to consider adopting. There is a national shortage of approved adopters which at the moment means the average time a child being taken into care and being successfully placed for adoption is two years and seven months.
Ofsted recently inspected Southampton City Council's adoption service and their judgement was that the service is performing to a good standard across the board and this a testament to the hard work of our staff. But we can always do more. We should be adopting more children and doing so faster and we should be careful not to discriminate against potential adopters.
As a council - and as a society - we need to step up to the challenge of improving the system to improve outcomes for children in care. We need processes to work more quickly for both prospective adopters and for the children who just want a warm, loving home.
We need to cut through the unnecessary red tape and make placements more quickly. We need a legal system that will work faster than it does at present. We need social workers to be able to allow white families to adopt black and mixed race children, and vice versa, and single people and older couples should not be discriminated against.
Of course, the debate surrounding this will continue. But I agree that it is a scandal that children remain in care when there are families out there who would love to take them in.
Every child deserves a loving family. Making space in your life for a child is an amazing thing to do. If you have ever considered adoption, there has never been a better time to get in touch.