Report of the Chief Officer for Children’s Services (CS/18/19) seeking approval for the Implementation of a Regional Adoption Agency, attached.
(Councillors Atkinson, Biederman, Connett, Dewhirst and Hannaford attended in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and spoke to this item).
The Cabinet considered the Report of the Chief Officer for Children’s Services (CS/18/19), seeking approval for the Implementation of a Regional Adoption Agency, circulated prior to the meeting in accordance with regulation 7(4) of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012.
The Report outlined the request for approval to enable the transition from four separate local authority adoption services to a single Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) hosted by Devon County Council with effect from October 2018 to address the Government’s requirement for adoption agencies to be consolidated into a single Regional Adoption Agency to form the Adopt South West Regional Adoption Agency. The activity was driven by new legislation – the Education and Adoption Act 2016 and also gave the Secretary of State powers to direct authorities to do so. The Cabinet noted the Government’s view that structural change would improve the process for children and adopters and the DfE expected the Regional Adoption Agency programme to deliver consistently good and innovative adoption practice that ensured improving life chances for children.
On a regional basis the Adopt South West co-operative regional adoption partnership had been launched in April 2015 comprising Devon County Council, Plymouth City Council, Torbay Council, Somerset County Council, Barnardo’s and Families for Children. The scope of the Adopt South West partnership had been the co-operation and co-delivery in marketing and recruitment of adopters, running of information days and training events for adopters and improve the matching of children.
The Report also outlined performance data which highlighted across the Adopt South West region, between 2012 and 2017, a 43% increase in the number of looked after children to 2,692 and a 31% increase in the number of adoptions; however, in line with national trends the number of adoptions over the past 3 years was declining. Also, over the past three years the number of Looked after Children had continued to increase whilst the number of Looked after Children adopted had reduced by 4.13%.
The vision for the RAA was to achieve improved outcomes for children and families by creating a system where children were matched with the most suitable adopter as quickly as possible, to achieve sufficient scale of Adopter recruitment to provide a pool of adopters, well prepared and well matched to the needs of children waiting and to offer sufficient, high quality adoption support services; effective short-term interventions, sign posting and enabling access to appropriate support.
The key outcomes set for the RAA reflected the DfE intentions for the Regional Adoption Agencies programme, national performance standards, and what a ‘successful adoption service looked like’ as told by partners, children and adopters.
In terms of Governance, the RAA would be arranged to ensure strategic roles for the Voluntary agencies, Local Authority Lead Members, Health and other partners and User Group representation, whilst also reflecting the operational oversight required by the host ... view the full minutes text for item 163