ADOPTION REGIONAL LEADERSHIP BOARD

News

The South East ALB met on 27th June in Wokingham; the meeting was less well attended than usual (partly due to train issues), nonetheless, the group had a useful discussion about latest developments in the regional adoption agency projects, including the most recent email from the DfE.

Milton Keynes is involved in one of the demonstrator projects; otherwise to that, none of the South East RAAs are on the accelerated programme.  We also had a useful update from First4Adoption regarding the Adoption Register project. The group is considering it's terms of reference and frequency of meetings in the light of the RAA agenda and national developments involving the ALB.  The next meeting is on 15th September 2016

Background

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has established a national Adoption Leadership Board which "makes a strong commitment to the adoption sector taking control of its destiny by establishing sustainable mechanisms that better meet the needs of more children and improve services for adopters".

In seeking to achieve this aim, Regional Adoption Leadership Boards (RALB) have been established to take forward this work at a regional level. 

The South-East Regional Board comprises 19 authorities and arrangements for the Board are co-ordinated through the SESLIP.  The Board is chaired by Judith Ramsden (DCS Wokingham) supported by Lorna Hunt (AD Bracknell Forest), Annie MacIver (AD West Sussex), Theresa Leavy (AD Southampton) and Lucy Butler (AD Oxfordshire).

The work of the National and Regional Adoption Leadership Boards will be focused on 3 priority areas:

  • Increasing adopter recruitment
  • Speeding up the system to reduce delay for children
  • Improving adoption support

More details are provided in the reports section on this page.


The South East Regional Adoption Leadership Board wishes to make ambitious recommendations to Directors for the future shape of adoption services in the region; key themes emerging are:

  • the role of the judiciary in shaping adoptions decisions
  • post adoption support
  • adoption vs permanency
  • the use of SGOs as an alternative to adoption.

 

The work of the national and Regional ALBs will be focused on three priority areas: 

1. Increasing Adopter Recruitment

The Government is investing significant funding in the system to grow capacity – £200m to LAs over 2014-16 and £17m to VAAs over the same period. First4Adoption was launched in 2013 as a one-stop shop for information and support for prospective adopters; and a new quicker adopter approvals process, introduced in July 2013, means that adopters can be approved in just six months.  The new Adoption Leadership Board will play a key role in driving further sector improvements; the Board is accountable to Ministers and will focus on increasing the number of adopters and speeding up the system.    

2. Speeding up the system to reduce delay for children

Legislation in the Children and Families Act gives approved adopters access to the Adoption and Children Act Register. There will be a greater emphasis on adopter-led matching through National Exchange Days and Adopter Activity Days.  The Act also enables more children to be placed in stable homes earlier by requiring local authorities to consider a fostering for adoption placement wherever possible, and removing the barriers to good placements caused by undue emphasis on finding a perfect ethnic match. Adoption Scorecards were introduced in 2012 and are driving improvements locally.  New training materials and other tools have been developed by the College of Social Work and Research in Practice to improve the skills of social workers so that they are better placed to judge what is best for each child.

3. Improving Adoption Support

The Government understands that it needs to recognise the commitment of people coming forward as prospective adopters with appropriate levels of support.  The Adoption Support Fund, worth £19.3 million, was announced in September 2013 to make adoption support accessible, timely and of high quality for those families that need it the most. The reforms introduce measures to ensure that from 2015, adopters will be treated fairly alongside birth parents when it comes to adoption pay and leave.  Adopted children from care will benefit from the Pupil Premium; have priority school access; and access to early education from age 2.  The Adoption Passport will make sure that adopters are clear about their rights to national entitlements.

The National ALB has identified the following suggested Initial Lines of Enquiry:

  • What is the regional market structure (number of LAs, number of VAAs)?
  • What arrangements for collaboration/partnership, including consortia, are there in the region?
  • How are these working/how effective are they?
  • What are the main (performance) issues within the region?
  • What plans/activities are in place to improve performance?  Are they working?
  • Who are the innovators and the “leading lights”?

The adoption reforms are underpinned by the Children and Families Act 2014. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has been commissioned to develop clinical guidelines on attachment for adopted children.

 

Organisation  Position  Name 
Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) President Alan Wood
ADCS Chair of Health, Care and Additional Needs Policy Committee Andrew Christie
Adoption UK Chief Executive  Hugh Thornbery 
British Association for Adoption and Fostering  Chief Executive  Srabani Sen 
Consortium of Adoption Support Agencies  Chair  Peter Sandiford 
Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies  Chief Executive Officer  Mark Owers 
Department for Education  Director Children’s Social Care  Paul Kissack 
Department of Health  Director for Children, Families & Maternity and Health Inequalities  Flora Goldhill 
First4Adoption  Representative  Carol Homden 
Local Government Association (LGA)  Chair of the Children and Young People’s Board  Cllr David Simmonds 
LGA  Senior Adviser   Ian Dean 
Society of Local Authority Chief Executives  Representative  Kim Bromley-Derry 

University of Bristol - Hadley Centre for Adoption and Foster Care Studies 

Professor of Child and Family Social Work  Professor Julie Selwyn

 

 

 

 

 

Next Meeting

South East Region ALB meeting dates for 2017

22nd September 2017

15th December 2017

All meetings will take place from 10.30am - 12.30pm at Shute End Wokingham. For more details please contact Rosemary Perry (details below)

Membership List (at July 2017)

SESLIP Contact Details

Adoption Project/Efficiency Project: Rosemary Perry
Rosemary.perry1@btinternet.com
07739 853434