Clauses 3 and 4: Maintenance of Adoption Service and Assessment for Adoption Support Services

Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am ar 21 Tachwedd 2001.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Our significant experience of placing children from the Public Care system endorses the need for adoption support services, as outlined. This is particularly important in relation to all parties to the adoption process and that such support is at a multidisciplinary and multi-Agency level. The service users of the Society have made us particularly aware of the life-long implications of adoption and we feel a challenge for this legislation is to be sufficiently broad and equitable to meet the needs both of adults and children. We are also aware, due to our current work, of the significant challenges faced by children families who are united by adoption and the importance of support services in sustaining such placements.

We welcome also the potential for clarity when Regulations referred to in Clause 4 (7) are produced, as in our experience, the duties and financial obligations often delay or reduce services, especially when inter-Agency placements occur, thus increasing the potential for adoption disruption. The current emphasis on increasing the numbers of adoption and, where necessary, using mechanisms to link children and families across distance, also contributes to the long-term implications of Agencies of working together and ensuring that vulnerable children and families are not left waiting for essential services, due to protracted discussion, and possibly dispute, concerning the appropriate provider and how such services can be financed.

We endorse the importance of seeing the whole child and ensuring an approach underpinned by corporate responsibility. We would stress, however, both at this point and at several others in the proposed legislation, that Voluntary Adoption Agencies play a particularly valuable role in complementing and, at times, spearheading the essential adoption work of Statutory Services. We would suggest that the proposed legislation, together with its guidance notes, ensures that the significance of the Voluntary Sector in adoption is stressed at every opportunity and that Local Authorities are given a clear mandate to give every consideration to partnership working when addressing the needs of adoptive children and their families, adopted adults and other key parties who require adoption and post-adoption services.

The Society has ample evidence to support this suggestion from its current research project ``Adoption—A Quality Option'', a very successful collaboration in promoting qualitative adoption services with three Statutory Agencies.

Whilst acknowledging the considerable and on-going resource implications of implementing this legislation, we would also wish to highlight the need of budgetary management, which ensures clarity when services need to be provided or purchased by Local Authorities. This is particularly the case, as Local Authorities will be required under the legislation to ensure that certain post-adoption services are provided, eg, to assess the needs of adopted children. We are of the view that budgets dedicated to adoption work being routinely available in Local Authorities, will ensure a speedy and appropriate response to the complex situations that can arise once a child is placed from the Care system in a new family.

The Catholic Children's Society, Nottingham, has gained significant evidence through twenty years of placing children for adoption on an inter-Agency basis with Councils, of the significant difficulty to secure efficient and appropriate post-adoption support.