Adoption improvement body details emerge

Neil Puffett
Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A new group created to improve the adoption system will focus on providing more reliable data to the sector and orchestrating a marketing push for prospective parents, it has emerged.

A total of 3,980 children were adopted in 2012/13
A total of 3,980 children were adopted in 2012/13

Last month, the government announced that an Adoption Leadership Board will be set up to drive through ongoing reforms in the sector.

CYP Now has learned that the board will be headed by an independent chair, yet to be appointed by Education Secretary Michael Gove, alongside at least seven permanent board members.

It will include senior leaders from local government and children's services bodies, as well as officials from the Department for Education and the Department of Health.

Providing more reliable and timely data on numbers of approved adopters and children waiting to be adopted will be central to the board’s work.

Local authority statistics will be presented alongside corresponding voluntary adoption agency figures, and made available within two weeks of collection, significantly faster than official government statistics.

“Some of the difficulties in the past have been around looking at the data and then understanding that what the data is actually telling us is not representative of what is happening now but what was happening 12 months ago,” board member Hugh Thornbery, chief executive of Adoption UK said.

“We end up having a debate about whether the data is right and relevant rather than about what the ongoing plans and action should be.”

Mark Owers, chief executive of the Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies, a member of the board who will manage it on behalf of the other members, said that the board will also focus on three other priorities – marketing, adoption support, and workforce reform.

The board will oversee a national marketing strategy to boost recruitment of adoptive parents, alongside corresponding regional campaigns.

It will also monitor a £19.3m government pilot project to boost adoption support in a handful of local authorities ahead of a planned national rollout next year, as well as working with the College of Social Work on how to improve standards within the sector.

“The board is about the sector getting its own house in order and reversing the trend of the last few years of the sector responding to the beat of the government's drum,” Owers said.

“Given the number of children placed for adoption and the number of local authorities and voluntary adoption agencies, you cannot just expect the players to sort themselves out.”

The board is set to be supported by around ten regional boards, although details for these are yet to be finalised.

There were 3,980 looked-after children adopted during the year ending 31 March 2013, an increase of 15 per cent from the 2012 figure and an increase of 20 per cent from 2009.

Permanent members of the Adoption Leadership Board will include:

•    An independent chair – yet to be appointed
•    The chief executive of the Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies (CVAA) – Mark Owers
•    The president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) – Andrew Webb
•    The chief executive of Adoption UK – Hugh Thornbery
•    The chief executive of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering – Srabani Sen
•    Chair of the children and young people’s board of the Local Government Association (LGA) – David Simmonds
•    A representative from the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (Solace) – Kim Bromley-Derry
•    A representative from First4Adoption – Carol Homden, chief executive of children’s and adoption charity Coram, part of the consortium that runs First4Adoption
•    Representatives from the Department for Education and the Department of Health as required

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