3.2 Adoption Support

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

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

3.2.1 The Prime Minister's Review of Adoption and the subsequent White Paper acknowledged that children adopted from the care system will have experienced neglect, physical, sexual or emotional abuse, frequent changes of carer as well as other challenging life events:

``67% of looked after children have an identifiable mental health problem''.

3.2.2 Parenting these children is a rewarding but challenging task and one which must be adequately supported. Without good adoption support, adoptive placements are highly vulnerable to disruption. With good adoption support, adoptive placements offer vulnerable youngsters the positive experience of family life, the best chance of a secure future and the opportunity to heal.

3.2.3 We welcome some of the changes to Clause 4 and are delighted that adoption support includes all those affected by adoption. We have always embraced this principle.

3.2.4 We do not believe that adoption placements will necessarily be supported if backed by a legal duty to provide an ``assessment of needs for adoption support services'', when this duty is accompanied by the provider's right to decide whether or not to provide the services it has decided are needed. [Clause 4.4]

3.2.5 Our 30 years experience of supporting adoptive families has shown us that these families need access to the actual provision of support post-placement and post-adoption, not simply an assessment to determine the nature of that support. This aspect of the Bill will not encourage potential adoptive parents to come forward to be considered for the range of children who most need new families here and now.

3.2 6 We understand the argument that agencies must have the right to decide what level of support they can provide within resource constraints but we suspect that, where support remains optional, it will not be forthcoming.

3.2.7 If adopters, adoptees or birth relatives are asking for support, it is highly likely that they need support, not just an assessment! If the Government want adoptions to succeed, support must be provided; this is a far less costly option than maintaining children in the care system, whether one considers the financial or social cost.

3.2.8 The details of support outlined in Clause 4 are welcome but we remain concerned about the Bill's lack of clarity on where the responsibility lies for the provision and funding of any support which is needed after an adoption order is made, particularly when a child is adopted in a local authority area away from his placing agency. History tells us that primary legislation, even when backed by Regulations and Guidance, can allow widely differing interpretations and lead to instances of ``buck-passing'' by agencies.

3.2.9 Adoption UK families frequently report serious difficulties in getting Education, Health and Social Service departments to work collaboratively with them to help their children. We believe that there must be a statutory duty placed upon local authorities to provide adoption support services and that this duty should require the involvement of Education and Health services.