Jo Mitchell, National Service Lead for Family Action’s adoption support agency PAC-UK, attended The House of Lords on Monday 21 March 2022 as an expert speaker for an oral evidence session to the Children and Families Act 2014 Committee, where Lords examined critical issues in the adoption system and explored the impact of the reforms introduced by the Act.
Jo was joined by Lucy Peake, CEO at Kinship; Elaine Farmer, Child and Families Studies at University of Bristol; Beth Neil, Professor at University of East Anglia Centre for Research on Children and Families; and Naomi Angell, Consultant at Osbornes Law.
Question topics included:
- Challenges facing the adoption system
- Support for birth families
- Impact of the reforms to post-adoption contact
- Adoption figures
- Ethnic disparities in the English adoption system
- Post-adoption support for families
The disparity between what is available to adoptive families through the Adoption Support Fund and the financial support available for kinship carers to access services they need.
That the voices of kinship carers and birth parents remain marginalised, and any recommendations for reforms from this committee should ensure there is a focus on including and responding to the voices of those with lived experience.
There are good relationships with some Regional Adoption Support Agencies but there remains an issue regarding ‘joined up’ thinking between RAAs and the voluntary sector e.g. on assessing people for fostering to adopt.
Birth parents lack support through the court process, such as access to legal aid, and also do not receive enough therapeutic support.
Current contact arrangements have not been properly reviewed and updated in the last 20 years and are no longer fit for purpose.