Government fund for 'exciting' adoption initiatives opens

By Joe Lepper

| 09 January 2017

The Department for Education has launched a fresh push to improve the adoption system, inviting bids for grant funding to "spark new innovations".

The DfE said it wants to "spark new innovations" in the adoption sector. Picture: Morguefile

The Practice and Improvement Fund (PIF) is inviting bids for grant funding of up to £500,000 from voluntary adoption agencies (VAAs). 

The DfE said the funding has been designed to complement the transition to a new, regionalised adoption system, with the first wave of regional adoption agencies, covering 132 local authorities, due to launch by mid-2017.

"We want to build on this spirit of collaboration and support the sector to work together to capture the very best of current practice expertise and spark new innovations that could benefit the whole system," a government guidance document states.

This is the second invite for bids from the PIF. It first opened to bids in April 2016, resulting in funding for 25 projects covering improvements to matching and recruitment, placement stability as well as family support.

"Through round two of PIF we want to support organisations to develop and deliver scalable, sustainable projects which will improve services on a regional and/or national level," the document states.

"We want to see organisations joining up and using shared expertise to tackle system issues by spreading excellent practice and trialling exciting new approaches which will ensure that the future system works better for children and families who need it." 

The DfE's guidance states that "many children, often those with the most complex needs, are still waiting too long for a placement".

It says that bids are welcome from VAAs that can deliver "innovate matching practices" on a regional and national level, as the current localised system "is not always geared toward finding adopters for these children as quickly as possible".

"Searches are sometimes kept too local, for too long, which reduces the chances of finding a stable match and creates damaging delay for the child," it adds.

The PIF has been developed as part of the government's four-year adoption strategy, which was published last March.

The strategy includes plans to prioritise "early placement practice", where babies are placed with foster parents who may want to adopt them. It also pledged £16m to develop regional adoption agencies.

Last month Labour's shadow children's minister Emma Lewell-Buck accused the government of having an "obsession" with adoption to the detriment of other forms of care, notably fostering.

During a committee stage of the Children and Social Work Bill she said the current government and the coalition had brought in more than 20 policy changes to adoption over the last six years.

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