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Councils could lose adoption powers
Councils which take too long to find adoptive parents for children face being stripped of the responsibility under Government plans, it has been reported.
In a move due to be announced by Children's Minister Edward Timpson, the task will be outsourced to private agencies and charities instead, according to The Daily Telegraph.
The initiative, involving a change in the law, is part of a drive under Education Secretary Michael Gove to speed up the adoption process, which is often held up by bureaucratic hurdles and a shortage of prospective adopters.
Some councils have already taken the approach of outsourcing to the voluntary sector the day-to-day job of finding suitable adoptive parents and ministers have urged more to follow suit.
Latest figures show children in England are left in care for nearly 21 months on average before being adopted.
In some areas, youngsters are forced to wait almost three years before moving in with an adoptive family.
Earlier this month, a map showing the parts of England where most children are in need of parents was published to try to cut adoption waits.
Education officials are concerned that prospective parents are often not being pointed to high-need areas if their own has few youngsters on its list.