Children in Wolverhampton face long wait to be adopted
The longest time a Wolverhampton child had to wait to be adopted is 10 years, shock new figures have revealed.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request has uncovered that the city is one of the worst performing in terms of adoption in England and Wales.
While the national average amount of time to home a child is 425 days, it takes 672 days for children to be adopted out of Wolverhampton council's care service.
Campaigners have labelled the news a 'tragedy' for local children desperately searching for a family.
But Wolverhampton council said the average wait time for children in care being adopted in the city has actually dropped by more than 30 per cent during the last four years.
Wolverhampton council’s cabinet member for children and young people Councillor Val Gibson said: "We’ve worked hard at reducing our average waiting times for children in care being adopted but we need to go further and we need to go faster.
“We have a positive approach to securing adoption for all children and wherever possible support our foster carers to adopt a child that has been in their care."
Data showed only Birmingham children's services were worse performing than Wolverhampton, but only by 10 days.
The longest longest time a child in Wolverhampton care has had to wait to be adopted in the 2016/17 year was nearly four years but the longest open historic case is an incredible 3,834 days - equal to 10.5 years.
However, Councillor Gibson said in cases where it had taken a long time, 'adoption had not always been the plan'.
She added: "When children come into care we never take adoption off the table, so in regards to that historic case, adoption may not have been the best option at first. It may have been fostering first. And then the family may come up to say would like to adopt the child.
"That's why our figures are a bit skewed.
"Wolverhampton actually has the best records in the country of placing harder-to-place children - like older children - into families. Also those with special needs or health needs."
According to government figures, more than 165 young people were adopted in Wolverhampton during the last three years.
But campaigners have said this is not good enough.
Chairman of Wolverhampton Lib Dems Ian Jenkins said: "It's the delays in the system that mean children spend too much time in care. Wolverhampton Council are failing these wonderful children.
"It is a tragedy that there are still too many children waiting to be placed with a loving family."
And a new approach for people looking to adopt has been launched by Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall councils. The scheme, called adoption@heart, aims to speed up the adoption process and reduce the amount of time looked after children are in care.
There will be a number of activities during March in the Black Country and Wolverhampton for people to learn more about adoption. To book a slot at one of these events visit adoptionheart.org.uk or call 0800 073 0597.