AN agency created to cut delays in the adoption of children has issued an appeal for a wave of extra adopters as a “perfect storm” has created a surge in children needing to be looked after.

Ahead of its first anniversary, Adoption Tees Valley said the merger of adoption services for the area’s five councils had led to a reduction in the amount of time children spent waiting to be adopted, but the service was also facing a shortage of adopters.

A meeting of Darlington Borough Council’s children and young people’s scrutiny committee heard the council was investigating the causes of the rise in number of youngsters needing homes away from their birth parents.

Jane Kochanowski, the authority’s assistant director of children’s services, told members:  “I don’t think it’s that they are reaching crisis, it’s slow neglect. We have a lot of blended families, so we have five and six children, rather than the two or three we normally have.”

When asked what was behind the increase, Ms Kochanowski added: “We had the World Cup. Any activity where you have groups of adults and children around alcohol. We have lots of families moving into the Darlington area and the number of child protection plans are increasing.”

Vicky Davidson Boyd, the regional adoption agency’s service manager, told the meeting while approved adopters had faced lengthy waits before Adoption Tees Valley was launched last May, children had since been placed with all the 47 approved adopters who were transferred into the new service.

She said the bigger pool of adopters created with the Tees Valley agency meant children could now be placed in homes across the area. She added: “We are busy recruiting and approving more adopters, but not at the rate children are coming through. I am expecting an increase in the number of children adopted and the demand for adoption to increase  across the Tees Valley.

“What that means is that we are now very much wanting for people in this region to think about adopting. We are very happy to talk about what adoption is, how it is different from birth parenting and fostering and give time to people who are thinking about adoption.

“Just because you come and ask us some questions doesn’t mean we are going to hurry you in and say you must become an adopter. We want to encourage people to find out more and when the time is right think about adopting because in this region there is a continuing stream of children who are not able to return and live with their birth family safely and the courts are deciding they need an adoption plan.”

Anyone considering adopting can visit or call 01642 526400.