NI: Bill introducing new legal framework for adoption due this year
Legislation to enhance and update the legal framework for adoption will be introduced to the Northern Ireland Assembly after the summer recess.
The Adoption and Children Bill aims to remove unnecessary delay and uncertainty for children by bringing Northern Ireland in line with the changes made in the rest of the UK in 2002 and 2007.
Health Minister Robin Swann said: “I am firmly committed to reforming the adoption process and to bringing forward legislation that will place care planning and advocacy services on a statutory basis.
“Reform of the adoption process and improving support for families in need, children in care and care leavers is long overdue.
“I want to remove the unnecessary delay and uncertainty that currently exists for many children and to make it possible for more people to consider adoption.
“For children in care and care leavers, I want to place care planning and advocacy services on a statutory basis and prevent disruption to their education and training and to prepare them for adulthood and independent living.”
The bill will also create greater opportunities for older children to benefit from permanence and stability by offering them an alternative route to adoption.
Mr Swann concluded: “There are many strands to this Bill that will enable positive change to be made. I look forward to bringing this to the house at the first available opportunity in September.
“All children deserve to be cared for in stable, nurturing environments enabling them to grow into mature, balanced adults. That must be a fundamental right in the 21st century.”