Agenda item

ADOPTION ANNUAL REPORT

Minutes:

Report ED18083

 

The Sub-Committee considered a report on the activity of the adoption service which fulfilled obligations in the Adoption National Minimum Standards (2011) and Adoption Service Statutory Guidance (2011) to report to the executive side of the Local Authority.  The report included performance and developments in Bromley’s delivery of adoption services; how the Council was compliant with key national minimum standards and the service offered to those seeking to adopt and those affected by adoption through the provision of adoption support. The report detailed the work of Bromley Council Adoption Service from 1st April 2017 to end of March 2018. 

 

There had been a noticeable change in the pace of improvement delivery from April 2017 to date which included increased management capacity and oversight, an established early permanency scheme and much improved timescales for children.  Adoption performance had significantly improved in the last financial year, both in terms of timescales, number of children placed for adoption and adoption placement support.  There were 22 looked after children placed for adoption in the year 2017/2018, compared to 8 children placed for adoption in 2016/17.  The Scorecard had also improved and performance was better than the national average.  Bromley had also been the first London borough to be awarded the ‘working towards Quality Mark’ in Early Permanence.  Fostering-to-adopt was also becoming an established Early Permanence practice in Bromley and five such placements had been made in the past two years.

 

In January 2017 agreement to move forward with the London Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) had been reached and all parties involved were ambitious for adoption across London.

 

In opening the discussion the Chairman noted that the majority of children that had been placed for adoption were 6 years old or younger.  In response the Head of Fostering and Adoption confirmed that generally the older children became the harder it was to identify suitable adoptive placements.  A number of other London Boroughs did not place children above 4 years old however, Bromley considered all children for adoption and had no such bar.  Nationally there were more children waiting for placements than there were approved adopters.  It was hoped that more adopters could be approved so that placements could be approved more quickly.

 

In response to a question concerning inter-country adoption, the Head of Fostering and Adoption explained that the situation was complicated as each country had its own legislation.  Bromley Adoption Service would help to direct specific adopters.  However one of the first actions would be to established why the adopters were considering inter-country adoption and see whether a suitable child could be identified nationally in the first instance.  Inter-country adoption had become very difficult and as a result of this there had been a significant reduction in the number of inter-country adoptions.

 

Turning to the issue of the Regional Adoption Agency (RAA), the Head of Fostering and Adoption explained that the advantages of regionalisation were that best practice could be shared and that a number of agencies were working together under the same remit.  Functions such as marketing and administration would be undertaken by the RAA centrally and this would allow social workers to focus on practice.  It was anticipated that delays in placements would  be reduced.  The Head of Fostering and Adoption also reported that it was hoped that CORAM would be a partner to the RAA and this would bring regional expertise.

 

In response to a question concerning the adoption scorecard indicators for Bromley, a Member noted that the graph on page 37 of the agenda indicated that in relation to the number of days it took for children to progress through the system, Bromley was still 150 days behind the national target.  In response, the Head of Fostering and Adoption emphasised that the scorecard was a three year average and Bromley’s average was still being affected by the 2015/16 data.  Once this data dropped from the average the scorecard would improve.  The Head of Fostering and Adoption confirmed that the Service was currently performing better than the national average.  The Director of Children’s Social Care also highlighted the importance of the individual stories behind the scorecard for context.  Outlining the case of a 15 year old who had been with his foster carer for a number of years and was then adopted by the Foster Carers, the Director of Children’s Social Care highlighted that whilst this was a fantastic outcome for the young person, it skewed the scorecard.

 

RESOLVED: That the Portfolio Holder be recommended to endorse the annual report.

 

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