Find out more about adoption at Lancashire County Council information event
Lancashire County Council is asking people to think about growing their family through adoption.
A special event for people considering adoption will be held at County Hall, on Fishergate in Preston, to help people find out about the process involved.
The information evening takes place between 6pm and 7.30pm on Thursday, February 6.
There's no need to book - you can just turn up, but early arrival is recommended so that the presentation can start promptly at 6pm. People attending the information evening are also asked to stay for the whole session.
The council is focusing on two different types of adoption, so that more babies and young children can go to live with their permanent family more quickly:
• Best for Baby (Concurrent Placements) place babies and young children, aged up to two, with foster carers who may go on to give them a permanent home.
• Better Beginnings (The Fostering-for-Adoption scheme) is for children where there is no realistic prospect of a return to their birth family.
County Councillor Phillippa Williamson, cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: "People from all backgrounds are needed to offer a permanent home and family to children who are not able to live with their birth family.
"We want to hear from people irrespective of their race, gender, sexuality, living arrangements, age or employment status. You can adopt as long as you are over 21, and live in Lancashire or close by.
"What is important to us are your personal qualities and that you are able to provide a loving home where you can support and look after a child throughout their childhood and beyond.
"More children in Lancashire are benefiting from being placed with their adoptive families earlier, thanks to these programmes.
"Sometimes babies come into our care at birth or soon after, and they're looked after by foster carers, while we work with their parents to see if they can go home.
"If this isn't possible, the court process can take some time, and after that the baby usually has to move again to their adoptive parents."
Best for Baby (Concurrent Placements) place a baby or child straight away with their prospective adopters, who are also approved as foster carers, while the birth family is assessed and the court makes a decision.
Coun Williamson added: "Best for Baby placements mean that there's some degree of uncertainty for the adopters, because there is always a small chance the child might go home.
"If the adults can take on this uncertainty, the baby will have the chance of a more secure start in life. If they are adopted, they'll have been with their adoptive family for much longer."
Better Beginnings (Foster-for-Adoption) carers are approved as temporary foster carers, but are prepared to adopt the child - if it is eventually decided that they can't return to their birth family.
Arrangements through the Better Beginnings scheme can give children continuous care in the home that they may settle in permanently, rather than spending months with other foster carers first. They also give the added benefit of allowing them to bond with their new family at an earlier age.
This scheme has been encouraged by the government nationally over the last few years, as part of reforms to speed up the adoption process.
To adopt, you must be over 21 and live in Lancashire or close by, whatever your race, gender, sexuality, living arrangements, age or employment status.
You can find out more about the information evening and the adoption process at www.lancashire.gov.uk/adoption or call the adoption team for an informal chat on 0300 123 6723.
Free parking for the event is available on the county council's Arthur Street car park, next to County Hall.