Report of Strategic Director, Care Wellbeing and Learning
The Committee received an update of the activity of the Adoption Service for the year ending March 2017.
It was noted that
for the current year, April 2017 to the time of writing the report, 19 children have been adopted with adoption hearings pending
for a further 9 children. A further 9 children are also placed with their adoptive familiesawaiting adoption and the service is
currently family finding for 10 children.
It was stated that the service continues to perform well against a backdrop of external challenges and reforms. It was further stated that work in relation to the establishing a Regional Adoption Agency, “Adopt North East” (Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland and South Tyneside) is ongoing with proposals to be considered by Cabinet in February 2018 with a ‘go live’ date of October 2018.
An update on adopter recruitment was provided, it was noted that there have been several methods used to recruit adopters including radio campaigns and advertising on public transport – further updates on marketing were provided to the Committee from the report. It was further noted that many enquiries that had come from outside of the borough were for adopters seeking very young children where their own local authority was not prioritising this type of recruitment.
The Committee were advised that from April 2016 to March 2017 Gateshead Council’s adoption panel recommended approval for 24 prospective adoptive families. A further update was also provided advising that where timescales for adoptions were not met was due to reasons such as children having very complex backgrounds, complex needs as well as issues of uncertainty such as potential Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
Further updates were provided to the Committee from the report as well as a summary of the key issues and aims for the year ahead. These were:
· To build on our recruitment approach to attract potential adopters from within a 50 mile radius of Gateshead, and to increase the numbers of enquiries from potential adopters, particularly those who might wish to consider older or more complex children or sibling groups.
· To explore opportunities for continued collaborative working with other Local Authorities and voluntary adoption agencies in order to maximise placement choices for children.
· Meet the increasing demand for post adoption support as children with more complex needs continue to be placed for adoption. Evaluate and develop the existing post adoption support that is on offer and make effective use of the Adoption Support Fund. Ensure the provision of access to the fund as appropriate for Special Guardians of previously Looked After Children.
· Continued exploration and development of “fostering to adopt’ opportunities in order to reduce delay for children.
· To continue to managing the changes and the requirements of the Adoption Reform agenda, and the implications of the “regionalization of adoption” which will require all local authorities in England to move to a system by 2020 whereby adopter recruitment, family finding for children and adoption support will all be delivered on a regional basis.
· Continued monitoring of our performance and systems to effectively analyse outcomes and identify potential areas for future service development
It was asked whether there had been any adoption breakdowns within Gateshead, it was noted that there has been one. The Committee noted that the report was very comprehensive and honest which was welcomed.
(i) The Committee noted the contents of the report.