Department for Education
Adoption Reform Update – August 2014

Welcome to our August issue. On this occasion we are providing you with an update on the Adoption Leadership Board Quarterly Data, the Adoption Support Fund, the VAA Expansion Grant Programme, and the Adoption Register. We also inform you of the Prime Minister’s Speech on families, the current position on the Statutory Guidance and the Recruitment Marketing resources. We also include an update from First4Adoption. We hope that this issue of the Adoption Reform Update will be of interest and help.

Recruitment Marketing Resources
The Department has commissioned First4Adoption (F4A) and Kindred to develop, test and evaluate, and then make generally available, a new suite of recruitment marketing materials which will be available to all agencies.  Early materials have been tested with a group of agencies in the North East and in the East of England, and they will be tested with the general public in these areas during September in order to see how potential adopters respond to them.  The materials will then be revised, based on the results of the evaluation, and made available to all agencies during week commencing 13 October. The materials will be hosted in a new section of the F4A website.

F4A and Kindred will provide more detailed information shortly about the materials, how all agencies can access them and details of briefing events for agencies later in September. Briefing events will be free to attend and will include sessions on how best to use digital channels to target potential adopters, how to personalise the marketing materials and what was learned about where best to place adverts from the testing activity.

The range of materials being developed includes, but is not limited to, a guide to recruitment marketing, press ads, digital ads, radio ads, posters, leaflets and other hand outs, template press releases, and social media guidelines and content.

Further details will be available from F4A and Kindred. All Recruitment Champions will be kept informed of developments. If you want to sign up to receive the F4A email newsletter then please contact You will be able to sign up to the recruitment marketing newsletter by contacting

DfE will also be developing some materials for Facebook and Twitter which all agencies should feel free to use. Watch our Twitter feeds for these in the coming months.

Any questions about recruitment marketing activities should be directed to

Adoption Leadership Board Quarterly Data
The latest quarterly survey data on the performance of the adoption system has been published at

The data indicates encouraging increases in the number of adoptions, adopters being recruited, and improvements in timeliness. The data has, for the first time, been taken from the Adoption Leadership Board’s new quarterly survey of all local authorities and voluntary adoption agencies. It should be noted that while this survey data enables full year estimates to be made for 2013-14, they should be treated as indicative ahead of September’s Statistical First Release based on the annual SSDA903 data collection.

Prime Minister’s Speech
On Monday 18 August, the Prime Minister gave a speech on families re-affirming his strong commitment to the Adoption Reform programme and highlighting some of the key achievements which are already having an impact. You can read the speech here:

Adoption Support Fund
The testing stage of the Adoption Support Fund began in June 2014 working with ten local authorities to design and develop how the Fund would work when available nationally in spring 2015. Since the launch of the testing stage by Edward Timpson MP at the end of June, over £250,000 has been allocated to adoptive parents in these ten local authorities for therapeutic services. The types of services funded include Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy, Theraplay, art therapy and family psychotherapy. During the testing phase, the ten local authorities will complete their assessment of support needs with the adoptive family and then, where therapeutic services are identified as needed, submit an application for funding to cover these services. Over the autumn we will continue testing in these local authorities, and will be considering what lessons we can learn for full rollout of the Fund.

More information about the Adoption Support Fund prototypes is available at:

VAA Expansion Grant Programme 2014-16
Following a competitive exercise, the DfE has decided to award Booster Grants worth up to £100,000 each to five voluntary adoption agencies (VAAs) in Round One of the programme. Funding is being provided to successful VAAs in order to increase significantly the number of adopters recruited, with a particular focus on adopters who can provide homes for children thought of as hard to place.

The Expansion Grant Programme is being administered and managed by the Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies (CVAA) on behalf of the DfE.

Adoption Register Update
The number of adopters on the Register continues to rise and the Register now has over 850 who are active and available. This is also being reflected in the high numbers of adopters attending exchange days. Our last two exchange days have each seen almost 150 take the opportunity to talk to social workers about children they are profiling. Our next exchange day will be held in London on 10 September. It will be the third of the year and the Register is already aware of 24 matches made at the first two events.

From September, the access to the Register pilot will enable around 190 prospective adopters from 29 agencies to search the details of children on the Register. This is an exciting development and provides an opportunity for all children referred to the Register to have their profiles accessed directly by an available pool of adopters. We know that adopter-led matching is one of the most effective means of finding families for harder to place children and would urge agencies to refer all eligible children to the Register immediately so as to maximise their chances of achieving a new family.

Further details about the pilot and the agencies involved can be found at

If you have adopters or children to refer to the Register or want to attend an Exchange Day, please contact: or 0345 222 9015

Further information is available on the website:

New Regulations and Statutory Guidance position
As highlighted in the June and July 2014 updates, we published four sets of Regulations following the Government’s response to the consultation Adoption: Getting It Right, Making It Work. These Regulations came into force on 25 July 2014.

This is a reminder that new Adoption Statutory guidance will be published in the autumn. In the interim, the existing guidance remains available, although certain sections are affected by the new Regulations, which take precedence.

Updates from First4Adoption

New on First4Adoption’s website:
Published on the First4Adoption website, the Adoption Passport has been updated and is available to all agencies in order to support the new legal duty for local authorities to inform adopters and prospective adopters of their adoption support entitlement.

Also new on First4Adoption’s website is a section for professionals, which will include recruitment guides and information about the services First4Adoption can offer. It will be updated as it is developed to include the latest market research as well as sector performance statistics.

Please continue to provide F4Adopton with feedback and comments about the First Steps e-learning modules launched earlier this year on their website, which can be found here:

Signposting enquiries to First4Adoption
First4Adoption Information Line advisers continue to hear from potential adopters who have been turned away by agencies for a variety of reasons, or who have questions unanswered, but have not been given details of another agency or First4Adoption. Please remind all front-line enquiry handlers to provide First4Adoption’s Information Line number 0300 222 0022 and/or website to potential adopters.

First4Adoption Information Line advisers can ensure that potential adopters who may be ready to proceed are not lost to the system, and can provide information and support to other enquirers to help them reach a clearer decision about their future.

Email enquiries and feedback can be sent to

The Knowledge and Skills for Child and Family Social Work draft statement
The DfE has published the Knowledge and Skills for Child and Family Social Work draft statement for public consultation. The Department is seeking views on the draft statement:

  • as a statement of what a child and family social worker needs to know at the end of a first year in practice; and
  • as a statement to inform what is taught on qualifying programmes to properly equip those studying to become effective child and family social workers.

Sir Martin Narey, in his review of the initial education of social workers, published in February, recommended that such a statement be drafted by the Chief Social Worker to assist in the development of current qualifying programmes towards greater specialism in child and family social work. The statement has been developed with input from over 950 frontline child and family social workers - to help ensure that it reflects what social workers have to do on a day to day basis.

The consultation document, along with the Knowledge and Skills statement, can be found via this weblink:

The consultation will remain open until 9 October, and you are encouraged to submit a response.

Feedback survey on the Improving permanence for looked-after children data pack
The DfE published the  Improving permanence for looked-after children data pack in September 2013 to provide local authorities and other organisations with an interest in national data about stability for looked-after children and those returning home from care.

The purpose of the data pack was to provide greater detail about placements for looked-after children and those who return home, illustrate key factors that contribute to placements stability for looked-after children and those children returning home from care, and inform the strategic and operational decisions taken by Directors of Children’s Services and Lead Members, commissioners, managers, social workers and Independent Reviewing Officers.

The Department is making available a short and anonymous online survey to consider the impact of the data pack on practice. The survey should only take a few minutes to complete and will be available until 19 September 2014.

The survey is available at

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

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 
August 2014