CHILDREN in Bolton are waiting an average of 19 months before being adopted, according to new figures.

But the council says it is overall performance is the “second best” in the country.

According to the latest adoption scorecards, published by the Department for Education (DfE), children now face a 532- day wait in Bolton, and a 636- day wait on average in England, equivalent to almost 21 months, between entering care and moving in with an adoptive family.

The figures also reveal wide variations across the country.

Kensington and Chelsea in London has the longest waiting times, with children in care for an average 1,082 days, but youngsters in care in West Berkshire have the shortest wait at 405 days, equivalent to 13.3 months.

The Government has set a threshold of 21 months, which is 639 days, between children being taken into care and moving in with an adoptive family.

For the councils which have figures available, 63 are not meeting the threshold, compared with 59 who were not when the first adoption scorecards were published in May.

A Bolton Council spokesman said: “Adoption is a key priority for Bolton Council and we are pleased to note that its performance is the second best nationally for the percentage of children who left care and were adopted, both for 2012 and for the three-year rolling average.

“And 64 per cent of Bolton children are placed with their adoptive family within 21 months of entering care. This is the second best performance in Greater Manchester, but we are working hard to improve our performance. There is a national shortage of people wanting to adopt and more adopters are needed for children from Bolton.”

The publication of adoption scorecards is part of a government plan to reform the adoption system, which also includes proposals to cut the length of time would-be adopters wait to be approved to six months.

Children’s minister Edward Timpson said: “Children awaiting adoption deserve to be placed with loving families more quickly. Instability can cause real damage to a child’s chances.

“It’s crucial we make sure that paperwork and processes do not lead to unnecessary delays.”