New rules to speed up the adoption system and aim to get more children a stable, loving home without delay will come into force in July.
The changes will attempt to reduce delays for black and ethnic minority children and give adopters a much more active role in finding children they might be suitable to adopt.
Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson said:"We’ve seen promising progress in the last 12 months - a significant rise in adoptions and a huge increase in the number of adopters, but I’m determined to do everything in my power to make sure the 6,000 children waiting are offered safe and caring homes.
"Our reforms to the register, greater use of fostering for adoption and the removal of unnecessary delay will mean would-be adopters can play a greater role in the process and help ensure children are placed with a new loving family much more quickly."
The new procedures include:
- removing barriers by ensuring ethnicity is not prioritised over other factors - such as the ability to provide a stable, loving home
- scrapping restrictions on the register so approved adopters can actively search for children they could provide a family for
- introducing new rules requiring councils to actively consider fostering for adoption places where appropriate - allowing children to move in with their adoptive family much earlier
- placing a mandatory requirement on all councils to tell prospective adopters about their entitlements
Research published last year by the Department for Education shows that over 4 million people in England are likely to consider adopting at some point in the future, yet up and down the country there are still 6,000 children waiting for safe, new homes.