The government is to overhaul the way people in England are checked to see if they are suitable to adopt children. It has set up a new panel which will work with its adoption adviser, Martin Narey, to draw up plans. Ministers say the process is \"painfully slow\" and that many are put off, while others are turned away unnecessarily for being overweight or ex-smokers. The government has pledged to speed up the adoption system and says it wants more children adopted. It says children wait an average of two years and seven months to be adopted, while it can take a year for a couple or individual to be approved to adopt. Common-sense approach\' Earlier this year ministers highlighted figures which showed that of the 3,660 children under the age of one who were in care in England last year, only 60 were adopted. They say they want a \"common-sense\" approach. Children\'s minister Tim Loughton said: \"The assessment process for people wanting to adopt is painfully slow, repetitive and ineffective. Dedicated social workers are spending too long filling out forms instead of making sound, common-sense judgements about someone\'s suitability to adopt. \"Children are waiting too long because we are losing many potentially suitable adoptive parents to a system which doesn\'t welcome them and often turns them away at the door. \"We cannot afford to sit back and lose potential adoptive parents when there are children who could benefit hugely from the loving home they can provide.\" The new panel will include representatives from the British Association of Adoption and Fostering, the Association of Directors of Children\'s Services, Adoption UK and the Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies. I have met couples who have adopted children from China and Nicauragua, but they all wanted to adopt a child from care here” End Quote Martin Narey Government adviser on adoptions They have been asked to suggest ways to improve the way would-be adoptive parents are recruited, assessed and trained and to \"remove bureaucracy and over-prescription\" in information collected about them. A report on would-be adopters can run to more than 100 pages. The panel will also set out timescales for checking people\'s suitability and training them and suggest new ways of monitoring the success of the adoption system. In October, the government published figures which showed wide variations in how many children had been adopted in England\'s local authorities. Government adviser Martin Narey said the assessment process was the \"the biggest cause of delays\" in adoptions and the reason so many children were being left in care. \"I have met couples who have adopted children from China and Nicaragua, but they all wanted to adopt a child from care here,\" he said. \"The parental assessment process is not fit for purpose. It meanders along, it is failing to keep pace with the number of children cleared for adoption, and it drives many outstanding couples to adopt from abroad.\" \'Heroes\' Mr Narey, the former chief executive of the charity Barnardo\'s, told the BBC too many local authorities did not welcome people who came forward to adopt, sometimes treated them with suspicion and took months to set up meetings. The current process is cumbersome and does not leave room for social workers to use their professional judgement to make decisions in the best interests of children” End Quote Matt Dunkley Association of Directors of Children\'s Services \"It is not a system that values people. I believe that people who are willing to bring up children who are not their own by birth - they are people who should be treated as heroes,\" he said. Local councils agree that the existing system for assessing would-be parents is slow and bureaucratic - but say it is vital that it remains as rigorous as possible - because the children involved are among the most vulnerable in society and a breakdown in an adoption could be catastrophic for them. Detailed checks can reduce the risk of such breakdowns, they believe. And they say many adoptions are held up in the family courts, where final decisions about adoptions are taken. Matt Dunkley, the president of the Association of Directors of Children\'s Services said: \"Local authorities ... recognise that adoption offers the best chance of stability for a lot of children. \"The current process is cumbersome and does not leave room for social workers to use their professional judgement to make decisions in the best interests of children. \"We are delighted that the government are forming a group to examine the streamlining of this process so that potential adopters are asked relevant questions to ensure sufficient rigor, but are not bombarded with questions that do little to help identify the best match between children and adoptive parents.\" He also said the information published by the government on adoptions was \"flawed\" and that he hoped the new panel would agree on a \"more relevant set of indicators to help drive improvement across the country\". The association has pointed out that basic adoption figures do not reflect other \"permanent placements\" - such as when a child is being looked after by their grandparents.