DfE announces five more regional adoption agencies

Joe Lepper
Friday, March 23, 2018

A further five regional adoption agencies (RAAs) are to launch, backed with Department for Education funding of £3.4m.

A total of 17 councils will be involved in five new regional adoption agencies announced by government. Picture: Morguefile
A total of 17 councils will be involved in five new regional adoption agencies announced by government. Picture: Morguefile

In total 17 councils are involved in the quintet of newly created regional groups, which will be handed the funding to work together to speed up matching between children awaiting adoption and prospective adopters.

The money will also be used to improve adopter recruitment and find ways to make the adoption process more cost-effective.

"We want every child to be in the loving, stable home that's right for them, and adoption can transform the lives of these vulnerable children - and their adoptive families - in a remarkable way," children's minister Nadhim Zahawi said.

"By coming together and joining forces through the work of RAAs, councils can use the network to match children with the right families much more quickly."

The new agencies are: Kent, including Kent, Bexley and Medway councils; Coast to Coast, involving Cumbria, Durham and Sunderland councils; Lancashire, involving Lancashire and Blackpool councils; Ambitious for Adoption, featuring Harrow, Bromley, Redbridge, City of London and Slough councils; and Adoption for South East, made up of Surrey, East Sussex, West Sussex and Brighton and Hove councils.

The first RAAs were announced in 2015 with 111 councils across 14 groups. They went live last year.

Previous funding awards for the agencies from government include £16m for 2016/17 and 2017/18 and £4.5m for early adopters in 2015/16.

As well as creating partnerships between neighbouring councils they also involve voluntary adoption agencies to further speed up the adoption and matching process.

The Department for Education said a total 141 councils are now either involved in a live or developing regional agency. Under legislation introduced through the Children and Social Work Act 2017, which received Royal Assent in April, all councils must be part of an agency by 2020. 

The government's announcement that five more agencies are being created has been welcomed by Andrew Christie, chair of the Adoption Leadership Board.

"RAAs will be the platform on which a modernised adoption service is built; providing better support to adopters and transforming the life chances of many of the most vulnerable children. Funding five more RAA projects is a major step towards this goal," he said.

Heather Freeman, head of service for Aspire Adoption, Dorset's RAA, said that since its launch in 2017 it had increased the number of children placed for adoption with local families.

"I have no doubt that becoming an RAA has already benefitted children and families touched by adoption or special guardianship in the Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole local authority areas," she said.

"Aspire Adoption went live in July 2017, and within the first six months, more children had been placed for adoption with local families than ever before.

"Combining the skills and experience of social work staff from across the region has also resulted in improving the support we can now offer families once those children have been placed. There is much more to do but becoming an RAA was right for us."

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