Headlines: November 5th, 2007

Councils in the North West of England are to try a groundbreaking approach to finding families for children who need them. Adoption 22 is a collaborative venture by all 22 local authority adoption agencies and of voluntary agencies in the region, which is behind the unusual step of taking space in a national newspaper supplement as a way of breaking what it calls ‘the deadlock for children who are waiting for a home’. The whole of tomorrow’s Guardian Family Supplement will be devoted to adoption and will feature real-life stories and information about adoption, including an interview with the chair of Adoption 22’s steering group, Steve Titcombe, who is head of Children’s Services in Rochdale.

Manchester City Council, which is one of those supporting the move, said its own difficulties in finding families for children were mirrored in other agencies throughout the north west and it believed a joint approach might bring the best results. The hope is that Adoption 22 can recruit prospective adopters for a region from Cumbria to Cheshire and that by pooling resources the agencies taking part can find a wide range of people to suit the needs of children.

Eileen Bower, Operations Manager for Adoption 22, said they wanted to give a big push to efforts to find families. “At present there are more than 300 children waiting for a family in this region and we would urge people to look at our spread in the Guardian, or contact their local agency, if they think they might be able to help,” she added.

The newspaper advertisement will direct people who may be interested in adoption to a website called ‘Look After Me’ and to a freephone number. Potential adopters are being told they will not need special skills or a particular lifestyle. Councillor Sheila Newman, Executive Member for Children’s Services at Manchester City Council, which currently has 91 children waiting for adoptive homes, said, “There are some children, perhaps disabled or a little older, who have been waiting for some time to be placed with a family. What we are looking for is a home where they will feel secure and loved within a family setting.”

Adoption 22’s aims also include creating a regional database to inform recruitment and placements and developing information and training programmes for adopters and staff across the North West.