Clause 4 - Assessments etc. for adoption support services

Part of Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 6:30 pm ar 11 Rhagfyr 2001.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Jacqui Smith Jacqui Smith Minister of State, Department of Health 6:30, 11 Rhagfyr 2001

As the hon. Gentleman said, we are now discussing clause 4, which introduces a new right to an assessment for adoption support services. It delivers on the commitment made in the White Paper to give adoptive families a right to an assessment of their need for adoption support services from their local authority.

The clause goes yet further, extending the right to an assessment to everyone affected by adoption. The persons listed in clause 3(1) will all be entitled to an assessment of their needs for adoption support services. They are children who may be adopted, their parents and guardians, prospective adopters and adopted people, their adoptive parents, birth parents and former guardians. Additional persons will be prescribed in the regulations made under clause 4(1)(b), who will also have the new right to an assessment. The Government intend those people to include birth and adoptive siblings of adopted people and children who may be adopted.

The amendment would require the local authority, in addition to carrying out an assessment of needs for adoption support services of the person who has requested it, to carry out an assessment of the needs of connected persons. It does not make it clear who those connected persons might be, but I understand that the hon. Gentleman's concern is to ensure that the assessment is as broad as necessary to take into consideration any needs that might be identified.

The Government believe that the amendment is unnecessary. We intend that everyone affected by adoption should be able to approach their local authority for an assessment of their need for adoption support services, and clause 4 provides for that. In addition, parents can request an assessment on the child's behalf. In practice, the needs of adoptive families—adoptive children, their adoptive parents and any adoptive siblings—will be assessed together. It would not be appropriate for the child's needs to be assessed in isolation, so assessment will consider the needs of the family as a whole.

On the rare occasions when a child's needs are assessed in isolation, the local authority will consider the extent to which the people caring for that child have related needs. For example, to meet the needs of a physically disabled child, the adoptive parents might be assessed as requiring respite care. The provisions in clause 4 are flexible enough to allow for that, so there is no need for the amendment.

On that basis, and given the broad scope of those able to request assessment for adoption support and the way in which such assessments will be carried out, I hope that the hon. Gentleman feels that the issues that he has raised are adequately dealt with.