The amount of time children must spend in foster care before being eligible for adoption may be cut in half, but only in special circumstances, Social Solidarity Minister Michael Falzon said on Monday.
Addressing a press conference to launch a new National Adoption Strategy, Dr Falzon said the government was open to the possibility that children need only spend five years in foster care prior to adoption, rather than 10, but only in certain circumstances and when authorised by a Court.
This, he said, was one of the issues set to be discussed in the coming weeks.
The new strategy document, Dr Falzon said, will complement a care for minors Bill which will today begin being discussed in Parliament.
Dr Falzon said he hoped most of the work for the draft law to be approved by the House would be finished before the summer recess.
Matthew Vella, who heads the Social Care Standards Authority, said the strategy document was not just about reducing bureaucracy but about improving the overall performance of the adoptions process.
The document outlines how over the next three years, the authorities will invest in research to inform their decisions.
“We want this sector to be truly evidence based,” he said.
Mr Vella said that the 25 measures in the document also sought to increase training and resources for those working in the sector.
Ultimately, the strategy would help the authorities instil a child-focused approach.
Dr Falzon meanwhile stressed that adoption was a “hot subject”.
“It is not easy to legislate and draft strategies and policies which deal with such an emotional and complex subject. The laws devised in this area will ultimately have a bearing on people’s futures,” he said.
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