Up to 27 children in Croydon are waiting to be adopted, according to a new map published today by the Government. The map, available on the Department for Education website shows the number of children in each local authority waiting for a family to adopt them. It allows would-be adopters to see how many youngsters in their area and elsewhere are waiting for an adoptive family. Areas on the map have been split into four categories ranging from those with 17 or fewer children waiting to be adopted, to those with 48 or more. According to the map, 18 to 27 children are awaiting adoption in Croydon. Adoption scorecards, from which the map data was taken, show how long on average children have to wait before moving in with their adoptive family. On average, between April 1, 2008 and March 31, 2011, children in the Croydon authority spent 783 days in care before moving in with their adoptive family. This was above the England three-year average of 625 days. The 783-day wait in Croydon compares to 661 in Enfield, 536 in Kingston Upon Thames and 560 in Reading. In addition to the map a new telephone information and advice service staffed by adopters has today been launched. The service, contactable on 0300 222 0022, aims to help potential adopters navigate the process of adopting a child. The information line, operated by First4Adoption, is funded by the Department for Education and will allow all prospective adopters to access an authoritative source of advice on adoption in one place. Potential adopters can obtain information about the entitlements to adoption support, and will be pointed in the direction of suitable adoption agencies. The map and telephone service are part of a set of measures aimed at speeding up the adoption process, and increasing the number of adoptions. Last month Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to help children find adoptive parents, and to make the system more robust. The Government said it will look at ways to give adopters a more active role in the process, and offer support to those already adopting children who have been in care. It has also pledged to give adopters the same rights to pay and leave as birth parents. Edward Timpson, Children and Families Minster, said: "Today we are providing potential adopters with the tools they need to find children who need adopting right across the country. "Together the telephone 'infoline' and the new 'Hotspots' map will arm would-be adopters with the information they need to approach any local area. "We know many potential adopters out there can provide children with loving, stable homes but simply don't know where to start. These new tools will give many more people support in taking the first steps to adopting a child and giving them the chance to succeed in life." Hugh Thornbery, Adoption UK Chief Executive, said: "We hope the adoption 'map', which indicates the number of children awaiting adoption in different areas across England, will help prospective adopters have a clearer idea as to which agencies to contact to inquire about becoming an adoptive parent. "However, the Government, agencies and the adoption sector must remember that for adoption placements to succeed they must be well supported. "Adoption UK would urge the Government to continue the important job of improving the adoption system but acknowledge that this must go hand-in-hand with appropriate and timely support packages that help adoptive families parent some of the most vulnerable children in our society." A National Gateway for Adoption website, due to launch later this year, will provide an online service for the first stages of the adoption process. The website will be run by Adoption UK in partnership with Coram and Coram Children's Legal Centre. Mr Thornbery said it will provide "a transparent, comprehensive and supportive resource to anyone who is thinking of adopting". He added: "We hope this transparency will help address the shortage of prospective adopters in England and reduce the growing number of children in care who are waiting for a stable, permanent and secure home in the form of an adoptive placement. "We hope the launch of First4Adoption will encourage more people to come forward and find out more about the adoption process."
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