Written Answers. - Inter-Country Adoptions.

John McGuinness

Question:

575 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in completing the adoption assessment in the case of persons (details supplied) in County Kilkenny who wish to adopt a Russian child (details supplied); if he will arrange for an official of the South Eastern Health Board to contact the family to advise the current position and give a date for completion of the process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19943/00]

I have contacted the South Eastern Health Board in relation to this application for an assessment for inter-country adoption. I understand the couple have been on the waiting list since January 2000 and that the assessment is due to commence around March/April 2001, subject to the assessments immediately before this couple's assessment being completed within the expected timescale and the staffing complement remaining as is. I understand the couple have been in touch with the regional adoption service in the South Eastern Health Board in the last two weeks and that they have been advised of the expected date for commencement of assessment.

In recent years there has been a large increase in the number of applications for assessment received by the South Eastern Health Board. As the Deputy will see from the following table the number of applications more than doubled between 1998 and 1999 and for the first half of this year the number of applications received is greater than the number received in the whole of 1999.

Number of applications for inter-country adoption assessment received by the South Eastern Health Board since 1998

1998

1999

January to June 2000

Applications received by the SEHB

24

54

55

Following the publication of the report, Towards a Standardised Framework for Intercountry Adoption Assessment Procedures, in June 1999 an implementation group was established to implement its recommendations. In July 2000 the group presented me with a report on progress in each of the health boards, including statistics regarding waiting lists and staffing at the end of June 2000. I am making a copy of this report available to the Deputy.
Since the publication of the above report in June 1999 the board received additional funding of £26,000 and £48,000 in 1999 and 2000, respect ively. An additional social worker was recruited earlier this year and an additional 1.5 posts will be filled in the near future. In recent weeks the board has received further funding for a social work post and a team leader post. I am satisfied that the additional staffing together with the implementation of the standardised framework will impact on the waiting lists for inter-country adoption in the region.
Questions Nos. 576 and 577 taken with Question No. 568.