Department for Education
Adoption Reform Update – January 2014
Hopefully it is not too late to wish you all a very Happy New Year. The adoption reforms are continuing apace into 2014 but we begin with the Government’s announcement, just before Christmas about new adoption maps, a new Adoption Leadership Board and, the extension of the Adoption Reform Grant.
December 2013 Announcements
On 24 December 2013, the Government announced new resources to help would-be adopters find a child to adopt, and more cash for councils. This announcement covered
• Adoption Maps: New fully interactive, clickable maps have been published to help would-be adopters find out more about agencies in their area and across the country, help them make an informed choice based on performance and help them access the most appropriate recruitment agency for them. The fully interactive maps are published on the First4Adoption website.
• A new national Adoption Leadership Board with a remit to galvanise significant improvements in the performance of the adoption system in England. The Board has been jointly developed by Government, local authorities and voluntary adoption agencies, and one of its key priorities is to tackle the shortfall in adoptive parents.
• The Adoption Reform Grant, intended as a one-off allocation in 2013-14, will be extended. The grant has helped local authorities to make improvements in adoption practice and we want to continue to support this work in 2014-15 through the allocation of an additional £50m non-ringfenced grant. Individual local authority allocations will be confirmed shortly and be based on a similar formula to last year.
The Department of Education has published an update to the adoption scorecards covering the period 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2013. The scorecards were introduced as part of a new approach to address delays in the adoption system, set out in An Action Plan for Adoption: Tackling Delay (March 2012).
Recently, Ofsted published data which showed a 34% rise in the number of approved applications between 2012 and 2013. This is hugely encouraging, but with 6,000 children who have been approved by the courts for adoption still waiting to be placed, we need to go further and we need to go faster. Which is why we’re maintaining such a strong focus on reforming the adoption system and, with the scorecards have also announced that performance thresholds are being raised annually (to 2016) so they reflect the levels set out in An Action Plan for Adoption for 2013-16. The uprated thresholds and scorecard data for the period 2010-13 can be viewed at:
Pupil Premium for Adopted Children
In the last update we reminded colleagues that from April 2014, schools in England can receive the Pupil Premium for children adopted from care on or after 30 December 2005 or who left care under a Special Guardianship (SGO) or Residence Order (RO).
We also explained that for schools to claim the Pupil Premium Plus for adopted children, and those who are the subject of a SGO and RO, parents will need to inform the school and provide supporting evidence, for example, by showing the school a copy of the Adoption (Court) Order with sensitive information concealed, e.g. the names of the birth parents.
The Spring School Census must reflect the position of the school as at census day on 16 January. However, the statutory return date for the School Census is Wednesday 12 February and schools (taking into account any local authority processes and deadlines where they are maintained by the authority) can use this time to check the evidence and amend their returns where necessary.
The Department has received a number of queries about the decision to link eligibility for the Pupil Premium to adoptions under the 2002 Act for 2014-15. The rationale for the decision was to ensure consistency with the policy on priority school admissions for children adopted from care, and respond to the need to balance competing funding priorities during the current difficult economic climate. The criteria for the Pupil Premium is, however, reviewed on an annual basis and it is the Government’s intention to reconsider the 2005 cut-off date as part of that process in time for the 2015-16 financial year.
We will be launching in February a six week consultation on indicative Regulations, statutory guidance and a revised outcome for NMS 13 that will come into force in early summer 2014.
The Regulations and guidance are about Fostering for Adoption; matching prospective adopters with children with whom they do not share the same ethnicity; sibling placements; information a local authority must provide so that prospective adopters are aware of their adoption support entitlements; giving approved prospective adopters a more active role by allowing them to search the Adoption and Children Act Register for children they might be suitable to adopt or care for on a Fostering for Adoption basis; contact for looked after children and adopted children. We will also be seeking your views on the slimmer version of the current statutory adoption guidance which will include guidance on intercountry adoption; and a revision to the outcome of national minimum standard 13 to reflect indicators 1 and 2 of the adoption scorecards.
Your views are important to us so please do look out for the consultation document and send us your comments. The four sets of indicative Regulations and guidance were published last year to assist Parliament in its scrutiny of the adoption clauses in the Children and Families Bill. These can be viewed here.
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 second tranche of training will be run between November and January and will focus on the use of Fostering for Adoption and Concurrency and their place in planning permanence for children. It is suggested that to make best use of these sessions local authorities use their 2 free places to send a manager from their adoption or fostering and childcare teams who can take the materials and learning and disseminate them back into their agency.
Remaining Seminar Two Dates below:
Monday 20th Jan 2014 – CCS, Bristol
Wednesday 22nd Jan 2014 – BAAF Leeds Office
Wednesday 22nd Jan 2014 – BAAF Birmingham Office
Tuesday 28th Jan 2014 – BAAF London Office - Now fully booked
Wednesday 29th Jan 2014 – BAAF Newcastle Office
*new date* - Wednesday 29th Jan 2014 – BAAF London Office
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 judgements 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 will shortly be consulting on.
It is suggested that to make best use of these sessions local authorities use their 2 free places to send a 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
Wednesday 16th April 2014 – The Heatons, Manchester
Friday 25th April 2014 – BAAF B'ham Office
Thursday 1st May 2014 – BAAF Head Office, London
Tuesday 13th May 2014 – BAAF Head Office, London
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
Designated List – Change to Legislation on 3rd January 2014
On 3 January 2014, the Adoption (Designation of Overseas Adoptions) Order 1973 (the ‘designated list’) was revoked and replaced by The Adoption (Recognition of Overseas Adoptions) Order 2013 (the ‘2013 Order’). The 2013 Order contains the names of countries where domestic adoption orders made on or after 3 January 2014 will now automatically be recognised in England and Wales.
Adoption orders made in countries that were on the 1973 order but are not on the 2013 order prior to 3 January 2013 will continue to be recognised.
In all cases, Section 83 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 will continue to apply, where the adoptive parents are habitually resident in the British Islands.
Intercountry Adoption: Placing Children Abroad –Requirement to notify DfE
We are not normally seen as a country of origin for children to be adopted overseas, apart from a small number of children who are placed with relatives or connected persons overseas, although there may be other circumstances in which a LA wishes to make a child available for intercountry adoption overseas.
The procedure for outbound adoptions is governed by Chapter 2 of Part 3 of the Adoptions with a Foreign Element Regulations 2005.
Where the local authority decides that a child should be placed for adoption overseas, even if that is with relatives, it must notify the Intercountry Adoption Team at the DfE, who carry out the Central Authority functions under the terms of the Hague Convention. We have been contacted by several overseas authorities about children who local authorities are seeking to place with adopters overseas, but where the Department has not been notified. If you have any such cases, and have not been in touch with us, would you please contact the intercountry adoption team at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
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