VULNERABLE children in Huddersfield are waiting longer than most in the country to be adopted.
New figures show Kirklees Council is one of the slowest in the country to match young people with would-be parents.
The news came as Prime Minister David Cameron warned that local authorities who “go on year after year failing these children” would have their adoption service taken over by a more successful council.
Figures released by the Department of Education yesterday showed that only 65% of children in Kirklees who needed to be adopted were placed with a new family within a year.
A council spokesman said last night: “We are always keen to find placements with suitable families as quickly as possible and staff numbers within the adoption team have been increased over the last year.
“This means we can now assess and approve adoptive families more quickly, which in turn means children spend less time waiting to be placed.
“As a direct result, the number of Kirklees children being adopted within 12 months has increased significantly.
“All local authorities face pressures on adoption due to the growing number of children coming into care.
“We work hard to attract new people who can meet this need, but we always want to hear from anyone who is interested in adopting.
“You can come from any background and be male or female, single or in a relationship, living in a rented property or in your own home.
“We would urge people to contact us if they are interested – please call 01924 483707 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Kirklees had the joint 19th worst figure in England between 2008 and 2010. Calderdale also found homes for 65% of children within a year.
Bradford’s figure was 70%, Leeds was on 85% and Wakefield 89%.
The London borough of Hackney had the worst figure, finding homes for just 43% of children within a year, followed by Brent on 52% and Nottinghamshire on 55%.
York was the best performing council, finding homes for 100% of children within a year.
But Huddersfield adoption expert Nigel Priestley accused the Prime Minister of ignoring the impact of spending cuts on councils.
The Ridley and Hall solicitor said: “I think Mr Cameron is only telling one half of the story.
“A friend of mine in Nottingham has adopted a child. She told me that the post-adoption support worker there has gone as part of the cuts.
“One of the really significant problems right across the country is that post-adoption support is very thin on the ground.
“If Mr Cameron wants a more successful adoption, he has to look at the overall package.
“He needs to put his money where his mouth is before preaching at local authorities. Waving a big stick isn’t the answer.”
Mr Priestley added that adoption placements shouldn’t be rushed.
“By and large you’re not talking about babies or very young children, you’re seeking a placement for a child who has been in very difficult family circumstances,” he said yesterday.
“The reality is that people are being asked to look after children who have come from a very abusive background who have experienced domestic violence.
“These children can’t just shed that background as if it never happened.
“I’ve had half a dozen cases in the last 12 months of children who have been placed with adoptive parents and the placement has broken down.
“When directors of social services say ‘this shouldn’t be rushed’ they are right.”
The solicitor added that the racial imbalance between children in care and potential parents couldn’t be ignored.
“In an area like Kirklees, the shortage of dual heritage adoptive parents is a big issue,” he said.
“There’s a desperate shortage of adoptive parents generally, but especially of British Afro-Caribbean and British Asian parents.
“It’s no good saying it doesn’t matter – no child likes to be different. It makes sense to place the child in a background where it doesn’t stand out, if at all possible.
“It’s one thing being Madonna but we’re talking about kids going to the local school where they don’t want to be singled-out as different”.