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During 2020 all of IAC's services became fully virtual with face-to-face work only happening when essential, in the context of our assessment or adoption support work. Of course, we were not alone in this, as the whole world moved to similar models of working. The overarching consideration for IAC though is that our work is all about people. It is with people and for people. More than that, at the centre of all our work are the world's most vulnerable children who need adoption. This is not something that can be managed solely through virtual means, because it involves the lives of children and families, and human to human relationships. Having said that, working digitally has allowed IAC to run our training and support events much more frequently and flexibly, and attendance has never been greater. IAC covers the whole of the country and not having to travel to our base in London has been an advantage for many applicants and adopters whom we work with.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, between 1st April and 31st December 2020, 17 children from abroad came to the UK to be with their new families, and 12 children from the UK also moved to their new families. The great work of this charity therefore continues to change lives. By the end of March 2021 both of these figures will have increased.
Whilst we expected the second wave of the corona virus to impact throughout the autumn, we did not expect the variant strain and a return to full lockdown so soon into the New Year. The impact of this means that we are now faced with possible delays at different stages of the adoption process, particulalry where the essential face-to-face work that is required cannot happen safely or easily during lockdown. This will primarily affect those families who began their applications and assessment during the pandemic and where the process has had to be conducted virtually throughout. Because our work is with vulnerable children, applicants who wish to adopt cannot progress to approval without any face-to-face assessment having happened. We continue to use government guidance, alongside our own internal risk assessments, to ensure that essential work does continue where possible. Our teams will also make sure that any face-to-face work that has to happen, because of an identified child already waiting abroad, or in kinship adoptions, happens safely, as soon as possible. No one at IAC wants any child to have wait longer than they have already to join their new family, but equally we must keep our adopters and colleagues safe during this very difficult time.
The other area of potential delay is the matching of children by other countries. Unfortunately, this is a decision that is for each individual government to take and no one country can influence the work of another. We know from our conversations with colleagues abroad that no decision to delay matching has been taken lightly, but the health and wellbeing of children and anyone they come into contact with, including their prospective adopters, has to be the first consideration at this time.
There is light at the end of the tunnel of course with the roll out of the vaccine now happening, so our current situation will come to an end. We are therefore continuing to accept applications from those people who wish to adopt because your approval will come at a time when things are beginning to open up again. We are also offering our waiting adopters additional support and workshops in order to help manage the extended waiting times that some are experiencing. For those adopters who were approved from 1st January 2020 we have agreed a temporary variation to the legally required annual review process with the Department for Education, our Central Authority for Adoption, which is in acknowledgement of the extended wait. Finally, we continue to offer our UK Special Programme for any applicants or approved adopters who wish to convert to domestic adoption here in the UK, where over three thousand children continue to wait for adoption.
Everyone who works at IAC believes in our work and the lifelong impact adoption can create for children, and we shall continue to work as hard as possible to ensure that as many children who need adoption as possible join their families as soon as they can.