THERE continue to be more children requiring families than adopters who are available in the Tees Valley and finding placements for youngsters in a suitable amount of time remains challenging, an official report has found.

The annual report of Adoption Tees Valley, which was launched two years ago to enable Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton, Darlington and Hartlepool councils to pool resources to improve the service, also reveals that 69 families have been created, offering children and adopters the opportunity for the rewards of family life.

As part of an ongoing drive to enable children to grow up with direct birth relatives, three sets of sibling groups of three have been placed and a further 16 sets of two siblings have been placed.

It states: “Recruitment of adopters has gone well, with a significant improvement on the previous year. Fifty adoptive families have been approved.”

The successes follow concerns after Adoption Tees Valley highlighted how the number of children in the care of the five councils had risen over the previous four years from 1,370 to 1,872.

Demand pressures have been felt in the Tees Valley– with the average time between a child entering care in the Tees Valley and moving in with an adoptive family rising from 435 days, as of April 2018, to 446 days in April 2019.

The report states while in the main there is improvement to working closely together with all five local authorities, “there remain some challenges to achieve timely referrals, and provision of information for family finding”.

It adds: “Timescales for placement remain a challenge for some children. We need to have a shared and deeper understanding about the cause of this.”

The report states while the coronavirus pandemic is continuing to impact on adoption in Tees Valley, no adopter has been approved without all checks, references and medicals being found to be satisfactory.

It states: “During the early stages of lockdown, no children were moved on to their new families. Careful risk management is now being used to plan for, and move children on to their new families, with whom they are matched, where it is safe and right to progress that plan.”