Department for Education
Adoption Reform (1st Update) – April 2014
Welcome to our bumper issue for April. Following the announcement last month about Royal Assent to the Children and Families Bill, this update provides the dates on which various pieces of the Children and Families Act will come into force. If you have not already done so, please remember to take part in our live consultation Adoption: Getting it Right, Making it Work. We have also included some information about two forthcoming TV series about adoption and have included some interesting information on First4Adoption's First Year Report, media and volunteering. We hope that you will find this issue informative and helpful.
Children and Families Act 2014
The Children and Families Bill received Royal Assent on13 March 2014, and is now an Act of Parliament. Part 1 of the Act and rules/regulations/statutory guidance will come into force as follows:
22 April 2014 Section 9 (Contact: post adoption) and the amendments to the Family Procedure Rules 2010. The consultation Court Orders relating to Family Law ended on 26 March 2014. The Government’s response to that consultation and the statutory guidance on court orders and pre-proceedings will be published mid-April.
13 May 2014 Section 4 (Recruitment, assessment and approval of prospective adopters) and section 7 (The Adoption and Children Act Register).
25 July 2014 Section 1 (Contact between prescribed persons and adopted person’s relatives). Section 2 (Placement of looked after children with prospective adopters). Section 3 (Repeal of requirement to give due consideration to ethnicity: England). Section 6 (Adoption support services: duty to provide information. Section 8 (Contact: children in care of local authorities).
The regulations and statutory guidance under sections 2, 3, 6, 7 and 8 on which we are currently consulting (Adoption: Getting It Right, Making It Work).
September 2014 The regulations under section 1 following a consultation exercise.
2015 Section 5 (Adoption support services: personal budgets). We are piloting personal budgets within the prototype of the Adoption Support Fund in ten local authorities between March 2014 and spring 2015. The date of implementation of the regulations in 2015 will be decided following the outcome of the pilots.
The pilot Public Law Outline will be extended to cover the period from end March to when it comes into force on 22 April 2014.
Read our press notice for more information on the Children and Families Act 2014.
We are currently consulting on four sets of regulations and statutory guidance – Adoption: Getting It Right, Making It Work – ends on 11 April 2014. We would welcome your views – see www.education.gov.uk/consultations
We will be seeking views in mid-April on who should be included in the list of prescribed persons to access intermediary services to facilitate contact with the birth relatives of the adopted person (section 1).
Please feel free to pass this on through your usual channels.
Adoption Scorecards legacy tool
A number of local authorities have asked us to develop a tool which will enable them to compare the timeliness data for children adopted and that of children still waiting. The tool enables local authorities to look at their scorecard data separately for ‘new’ cases so they can see how they are performing when older (‘legacy’) cases are stripped out. The tool has been piloted in a number of Local Authority areas but we would welcome any thoughts on how to improve it further. The Department do not intend to amend the scorecard measures but do think the tool might be helpful in helping areas understand their performance over time. Further details are attached to this bulletin.
The tool has been sent separately to Local Authority data leads.
Recruiting Adopters for Sibling Groups
The National Recruitment Forum is working to support LAs and VAAs in addressing the overall shortfall in adopters and the need to recruit adopters for specific groups of children. Amongst those groups, sibling groups feature highly, with 49% of the children awaiting placement needing to be placed with their siblings, often just one other brother or sister.
In October 2013 a guidance note was published to stimulate discussion amongst children's teams and adoption teams, support those involved in marketing and PR, provide a brief checklist and support best practice.
The Children and Families Act 2014 has now been passed and amendments to regulations and statutory guidance which relate to placement of siblings are being consulted on and will come into force in summer 2014.
The Forum has therefore updated the guidance note and created a Powerpoint presentation to assist agencies in holding discussions and training sessions with their teams so that we can all work together to better meet the needs of siblings awaiting adoption.
News from First4Adoption
First Year Impact Report
First4Adoption has created a First Year Impact Report. First4Adoption will be circulating the report to all agencies shortly but here are some highlights:
In its first year of operation the service has supported 94,752 individuals online and 2,196 callers to its information line. This means that the service received 96,948 contacts from people interested in adoption in 2013, which equates to 372 contacts each working day.
A total of 6,808 (15%) of unique online service users (16th August to 31st December 2013) went on to directly contact an adoption agency of their choice through the First4Adoption agency finder.
The report details information about the service provided, adopter feedback about First4Adoption; sector, policy and media communications; customer service; national recruitment development; and future plans. It has been created as a resource for adoption agencies.
Do ensure you are signed up First4Adoption’s newsletter updates to ensure you receive a copy, to sign up contact Gemma Gordon-Johnson – firstname.lastname@example.org
Adoption TV series
A series of 4 TV documentaries about adoption will air in April and May on ITV at peak time. The series will highlight the number of children in care who are in need of adoptive parents, and will aim to encourage more people to think about adopting. The series is both relevant and timely and it is hoped that it will stimulate vital discussion and help boost the number and range of prospective adoptive parents.
First4Adoption will be producing a number of campaign updates to help prepare adoption agencies for the campaign in the spring. With nearly a month to go before the series will be aired adoption agencies should look at the following advice to see if there are ready and prepared for increased interest and activity.
Hints & tips:
• Ensure that the availability of your initial enquiries service has adequate cover – if need be look at either referring general calls to First4Adoption or employing additional staff to deal with enquiries
• Plan your information events – do you have enough sessions planned in April – June – if you see additional enquiries
• Have you reviewed your website? Have you asked First4Adoption to review your website? Are you utilising your website as a recruitment tool? Is it inviting and can prospective adopters find what they need to find?
• Have you got adopters who are willing to be case studies in local media? Now is the time to start preparing and getting them on board
Have you ensured that First4Adoption has the correct contact details for you? Have you checked your page on the agency finder? http://www.first4adoption.org.uk/find-an-adoption-agency/
Volunteering for First4Adoption
First4Adoption is looking for volunteers with adoption experience to answer enquiries to our Information Line and also volunteers anywhere in England who would like to join our pool of mystery shoppers. Further details can be found on our website here: http://www.first4adoption.org.uk/about-us/volunteer-with-us/ Please help by circulating this to anyone who may be interested, in particular adoptive parents and those with personal experience of adoption. If you have an adoption group in or near London who may be interested in our volunteering opportunities, we are happy to come and speak with them, please contact First4Adoption on 0300 222 0022.
TV Series 2: “15,000 Kids & Counting” starts on Channel 4 at 9pm on 3 April
A short series of three documentaries about adoption will be broadcast on Channel 4 from 3 April. It is called “15,000 Kids & Counting” and the title stems from the total number of children where an adoption decision has been made in the last year compared with 7,550 in 2009. The first programme focuses on decisions to remove children and to plan permanence.
The second and third programmes feature foster carers and adoption in more detail and will follow the stories of children and adopters being prepared for introductions and the child/ren moving in with their new family.
This is a different series of documentaries to the series mentioned in the First4Adoption update that will be screened on ITV. It is likely that it will also stimulate interest in adoption, so the same hints and tips (above) about being ready for extra enquiries apply.
BAAF Training update
DfE has contracted with BAAF to run free seminars to support the adoption reform programme. A limited number of places will be available at each of these sessions to all adoption agencies and adoption support agencies in England.
The third tranche of training will run between April and June 2014 and will focus on Effective and Evidence Based Report Writing.
•To consider current legal framework and relevant Judgments underpinning child care reports to the Court and in adoption cases
•To consider analysis and evidence required in effective report writing
•To identify and explore key issues in the assessment of children and young people that will support timely permanence planning
•To consider the role and function of the CPR in effective linking and matching of children in adoption.
Seminars will also provide information reflecting changes on ethnicity and contact. These will be reflected in revised statutory adoption guidance which the Government is currently consulting on.
It is suggested that to make best use of these sessions local authorities use their 2 free places to send Childcare Managers and Supervisors, Independent Reviewing Officers and Training Officers, who can disseminate materials to children's social workers.
Seminar Three Dates below:
Tuesday 8th April 2014 – BAAF Leeds Office
Wednesday 9th April 2014 – BAAF Head Office, London - FULL
Wednesday 16th April 2014 – The Heatons, Manchester
Friday 25th April 2014 – BAAF B'ham Office
Thursday 1st May 2014 – BAAF Head Office, London - FULL
Tuesday 13th May 2014 – BAAF Head Office, London - FULL
Tuesday 13th May 2014 – The Heatons, Manchester
Monday 19th May 2014 – CCS Adoption, Bristol
Tuesday 20th May 2014 – BAAF B'ham Office
Thursday 22nd May 2014 – BAAF Newcastle Office
Thursday 22nd May 2014 – BAAF Leeds Office
Thursday 5th June 2014 – CCS Adoption, Bristol
Monday 9th June 2014 – BAAF Leeds Office
Friday 13th June 2014 – BAAF Head Office, London
Thursday 19th June 2014 – The Heatons, Manchester
Thursday 19th June 2014 – BAAF B'ham Office
Monday 23rd June 2014 – BAAF Head Office, London
Tuesday 24th June 2014 – BAAF Newcastle Office
Keeping you in touch
We are sending this update to those we have contact details for and look to you to disseminate this bulletin more widely among your colleagues and members.
If you do not wish to receive this update please reply to this email and we will ensure your details are removed before any further updates are circulated. If any of your colleagues would like to be added to our circulation list, they should send their name, email address, job title and contact details to adoption.REFORM@education.gsi.gov.uk.
If you have any suggestions as to how we might make these updates more useful to you – or items you would like to see – please let us know by contacting the email address above.
Adoption Reform Team
Department for Education