PERMANENT loving families have been found for almost 100 vulnerable children under a new nationwide adoption scheme.
Scotland's Adoption Register was launched in April 2011 in a bid to increase the number of youngsters being placed with adoptive parents and to speed up an often lengthy process.
Until it was established, local authorities's social services departments usually had to place children with couples living in their area, but the register enables matches to be made across Scotland.
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It holds regular adoption exchange days where prospective parents can look at films and photographs of the children needing homes, read profiles and even view their toys and drawings.
The register is funded by the Scottish Government and managed by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), and was launched as a pilot. To date it has helped place 95 children.
One of its notable successes has been in finding homes for "harder to place" older children and sibling groups. This may be due to the emotional impact the exchange days have on couples intending to adopt.
Children in care can be put on the register once a decision has been made that they can be put up for adoption. If they have not been matched with a family locally after three months, the register can search for a match anywhere in Scotland.
Aileen Campbell, minister for children and young people, said: "The Scottish Government recognises the importance of providing safe, stable, nurturing and permanent homes for children in care at the earliest possible opportunity. This can be especially difficult where a young person has particular needs or challenges to be addressed.
"Adoption agencies work very hard to make the right placements in every case and an increasing number of agencies have been using the adoption register, which will soon match its 100th young person. That is testament to the work of groups like BAAF in raising awareness and providing information and support."
Under the Children and Young People Bill, which will be voted on tomorrow in the Scottish Parliament, it will be statutory for local authorities to join the register.
Councils were at first slow to sign up and were opposed to the register being made compulsory. But it is now understood that most do take part in the scheme. Last year the register found families for 53 children, compared to 34 in 2012, and eight in the first year.
Sue Brunton from BAAF, said: The Adoption Register is so important in identifying families for children who need them."
Over recent years Scotland has seen an increase in the number of adoptions being made. In 2008 137 children were adopted compared to 272 in 2012.