This is the latest in our series of bulletins updating you on progress made since our last bulletin in April 2013 and letting you know about issues of interest coming up soon.
The Children and Families Bill
The Children and Families Bill includes eight clauses about Fostering for Adoption, delay (for reasons of a child’s ethnicity), adopter recruitment, adoption support, the Adoption Register, and contact for looked after and adopted children. Report stage/Third Reading of the Children and Families Bill will take place on the floor of the House of Commons on Tuesday 11 June.Any MP can attend, move his/her own amendments to the Bill and speak.It is likely the Bill will be introduced in the House of Lords on 12 June.No date for the Second Reading of the Bill in the Lords has been announced.You can keep track of the Bill’s progress and read the various documents and evidence by visiting Parliament’s website on http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2013-14/childrenandfamilies.html
Two-Stage Adopter Approval Process
The two-stage process will come into effect on 1 July 2013, the amendments to the Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005 have been passed and revised statutory guidance for the adopter approval process (chapter 3 of the guidance) has been published on the DfE website. Until 1 July 2013 current guidance remains in force.
A number of measures are being put in place to support the implementation of the new process:
The Department has contracted with BAAF to run free seminars to support the adoption reform programme.These sessions will be available to all adoption agencies and adoption support agencies in England. The first tranche of training will take place in the summer (further details and dates to follow). These will include the new two stage assessment and approval process for prospective adopters including those who are willing and able to “Foster for Adoption”.
BAAF is also developing a number of new and replacement forms to assist with the new process which will be available shortly from them. These are:
Registration of interest form
Stage One agreement (the Stage One plan)
Stage Two Assessment agreement (the Stage Two assessment plan)
Matching agreement (the matching plan)
Revised PAR and Guidance (for use after July 1st)
New PAR ICA (for use after July 1st)
First4Adoption (F4A) has been commissioned to produce the first modules of elearning materials in support of the new two-stage adoption approvals process. A technical specification is currently being developed and when this is available we will be able to further explain how the elearning modules will work. There will be a series of modules for prospective adopters to increase their knowledge about a range of topics which include:
Understand the criteria for adoption – this will be launched at the end of July
Understand the joys and challenges of adopting
Understand and explore why children are available for adoption and the background those children might have come from
Explore the types of family that would be suitable for adopting different groups of children
Consider the types of children a potential adopter might wish to adopt, potentially extending their initial preferences
Understand the impact adoption will have on them and their wider family
Parenting and developing parenting skills for adopting a child
Understanding the difference they are making to the life and future development of a child
Further information about the elearning modules will be available in the next update.
Adopter Recruitment and National Adoption Week
Grant funding has been awarded to BAAF to provide year round support for agencies aiming to increase adopter enquiries and registrations.The grant covers the period from April 2013 – March 2015 and BAAF will be working closely with CVAA, ADCS, First4Adoption and the National Recruitment Forum to coordinate activities, increase collaboration and minimise duplication.
Over the first year, BAAF will carry out qualitative research into good practice, which will be disseminated at workshops across the country and online alongside learning from First4Adoption.An online area to access recruitment resources will be created together with a password protected forum for open discussion of current recruitment issues and successes, with the ability to connect, share ideas quickly and informally and provide support. Representatives from over 25 agencies attended the first workshop on 8 May, with all supporting the need to join up recruitment communications more frequently at national, regional and local levels.
Ahead of National Adoption Week (4 – 11 November 2013) a consumer Omnibus survey will be commissioned and the results shared to enable local and regional awareness campaigns to focus on the same issues and maximise media coverage leading up to the week.The first Omnibus survey will set the baseline for awareness levels measured after the campaign and again in 2014.BAAF will also be asking for nominees for The 2013 National Adoption Week Awards.
To support agency development, communications and information sharing BAAF is asking all agencies to identify a recruitment champion as the primary contact for the period of the grant.You are encouraged to make contact with the BAAF through firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure your recruitment champion is identified and can begin to take advantage of the available resources as early as possible.
First4Adoption – Recruitment Support Service
F4A is able to assist adoption agencies with their recruitment calls and can answer the phone with the name of your agency - ‘Good morning, XX adoption agency, how can we help you?’. This is a simple process involving you transferring your phone calls to F4A so they can do an initial screening of your calls and you only deal with those potential adopters likely to be more seriously interested in follow-up work with your agency. You will receive full caller information at the end of each working week. This service is free to your agency.
If you are interested in exploring this new service from F4A please speak to Gemma Gordon-Johnson on 020 7841 0511.
First4Adoption – Update on the National Gateway
F4A is in the process of updating its website to include new content about the two-stage adoption process. It is also updating the agency finder to include information about events and information evenings agencies hold, information about children placed and whether the agency is currently recruiting. It will also amend the search functionality of the agency finder to show results for areas covered by agencies rather than be based on postcodes. F4A may be in touch to confirm your coverage if they do not have this information already.
Grants for Adoption Support
As part of DfE’s voluntary sector National Prospectus Grants we have awarded funding to 3 organisations over 2 years to increase the amount of good quality support available to adopters.We are funding:
Coram: to build capacity to provide Coram Post Adoption Support Service evidence-based parenting support programme for adoptive parents in 5 “hubs” (South East, North West, London and vicinity, East Midlands, Cambridgeshire), to develop creative therapy methodologies in these areas and life-story work in the South East hub.
After Adoption: to build capacity to deliver more Safebase and other support services to ‘Families that Last’ adopters, and to make these services more widely available to other adoptive families across the country in 7 new areas.
Adoption Matters North West: to build capacity to deliver more parenting skills programmes and tailored support packages/therapy, and to make these services more widely available to adoptive families in the North West region. Adoption Matters North West will also carry out a feasibility study into a North West regional centre of excellence for post-adoption support.
Taken together the grants are worth almost £1.5m over the 2 years.
Our Adoption update in April explained that we would be publishing an ‘Adoption Passport’ to tell adopters and prospective adopters about their entitlements, and what they can expect from their local authority. The Passport was published on 3 May, is hosted by First4Adoption on its website (link below), and is available via local authorities, voluntary adoption agencies and adoption support agencies.
Invitation to Tender - Social Worker Training Materials on Fostering and Adoption
As well as funding BAAF to provide training on the Adoption Reforms for the sector as a whole (see item on the two stage process above), feedback from the sector has revealed an appetite and need for practical training materials covering fostering and adoption for children’s social workers, supervising social workers, Independent Reviewing Officers and social work managers, which will build on skills and knowledge acquired during the social work degree as part of Continuous Professional Development (CPD).
The Department for Education therefore wishes to procure a contractor to develop training materials on fostering and adoption for social workers and deliver train the trainer sessions on these materials to training providers.
Relevant information can be found on the Contacts Finder website via the link below.
Chair of the Children’s Attachment Guideline Development Group
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have published an invitation for applications for the above post. Further information is available on their website.
Inter-Country Adoption: Proposed Changes to the Designated List
The Adoption (Designation of Overseas Adoptions) Order 1973 (known as the ‘1973 Order’ or the ‘designated list’) lists the countries whose adoptions are classified as ‘overseas adoptions’ and are automatically recognised under UK law.
The government carried out a consultation on the future of the designated list in response to various concerns including the potential for prospective adopters to avoid assessment on their suitability to adopt and inadequate adoption processes in some of the countries on the list.The government’s response can be found at http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/f/consultation%20responses.pdf.
The proposal to replace the 1973 Order with an Order recognising adoptions made in a country that has implemented the Hague Convention or has signed (but not yet ratified) the Hague Convention AND with whom the United Kingdom has a bilateral agreement) was the most supported option.
The Department is working closely with the Devolved Administrations, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Home Office on the planned changes. It is anticipated that a new Order will be laid in summer 2013 and come into effect early in 2014.
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 email their details to adoption.REFORM@education.gsi.gov.uk