WAKEFIELD COUNCIL ADOPTION AGENCY

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1 WAKEFIELD COUNCIL ADOPTION AGENCY STATEMENT OF PURPOSE Adoption & Permanence Team Unit 21 Green s Industrial Estate Calder Vale Road WAKEFIELD WF1 5PH

2 Index Page PAGE Introduction to Wakefield Adoption Agency 3 Aims and Principles 4 6 Adoption Partnerships 6 7 Services Provided 7 Recruitment, Assessment and Preparation 8 9 Approval, Adoption Panel and Agency Decision Maker 10 Matching for Placement 11 Training 11 Performance and Monitoring of Services 11 Ofsted Inspection 12 Complaints 12 Registered Provider, Registered Individual and the Manager 13 Qualifications of the Registered Manager 13 Organisational Structure 14 Staff Profile

3 INTRODUCTION TO WAKEFIELD ADOPTION AGENCY This Statement of Purpose is about Wakefield Adoption Services and outlines the aims and objectives of the Adoption Agency and the services and facilities provided by it. The Statement will be reviewed at least annually, and be modified where necessary. It is for a range of people who have an interest in adoption, including children and young people, adoptive parents, birth parents and families, Council staff and staff who work in a range of other agencies to do with adoption. It is available to adopted persons, their parents, birth parents and families, and former guardians. A guide is also available for children and young people who use our services. The Adoption and Children Act 2002 requires Wakefield Council to be approved as an adoption agency and is subject to the Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005, the National Minimum Standards in Adoption 2011, the Adoption and Children Act 2002 and the Adoption Support Regulations This Statement is supported by a range of more detailed information including the Adoption Manual and the Adoption Recruitment Strategy for Wakefield, which describe the day to day responsibilities and expectations of those involved in providing an adoption service which will meet the needs of prospective adopters, adoptive families, birth relatives, the children and young people whose needs for a permanent substitute family are best met through adoption, and adopted adults. 3

4 1. Aims and Principles 1.1. The overarching aims of the Adoption Service are: To achieve positive outcomes for children so that they can achieve their full potential To ensure the provision of a consistent, high quality adoption service to all participants in the adoption process 1.2. Wakefield Council is committed to ensuring that adoptive care provided for children in its care is of high quality and guarantees the best possible standards for care, safety and life opportunities which meet national aspirations for the support for children to Be healthy Stay safe Enjoy and achieve Make a positive contribution Achieve economic well-being The Adoption Service will promote the following principles: 1.3. A child s welfare is the paramount consideration. Children are entitled to grow up as part of a loving and caring family which can meet their needs during childhood and beyond. The needs and wishes, welfare and safety of the child or young person are at the centre of Wakefield s Adoption Service Wakefield s children come from a range of cultural, racial, linguistic and religious backgrounds and the Adoption Service will endeavour to recruit and retain carers who reflect these needs. Any adoptive placement made should reflect these needs. Particular attention should be given to ensuring that a proposed placement is suitable for a child who has a disability or health issue Children and young people should be brought up in their birth families wherever possible and safe. Children and Young People Services, along with other agencies and with community groups, will work to ensure that there is a comprehensive range of services provided to support birth families and for them to provide safe and appropriate care for their children Where children and young people are not able to live safely with their birth parent/s then consideration will be given to that child or young person being cared for within the extended family network. This may involve approval of 4

5 family/friends as foster carers or use of appropriate legislation such as applications for a Child Assistance Order or Special Guardianship Order. Assessment for support from Fieldwork and Placement Services in Wakefield will be carried out. A Family Group conference may be considered appropriate in some situations to facilitate the family network Where children and young people are not able to remain with their birth family or within the wider family network then placement in foster care should be the first choice for the majority of children whilst their longer term needs are assessed and plans agreed. Good child care planning and practice are essential and undue delay and drift should be avoided 1.8. All children and young people who are looked after in care will have a care plan, which will be reviewed regularly. The wishes of the child or young person will be taken into account in drawing up the care plan. The birth family should be fully involved and their views made clear in the plans. Foster carers also have an important contribution to make The care plan will be reviewed at every Looked After Child Review and at the four-month review the child s plan for permanence will be addressed. This plan will be based on the needs of the individual child and will include consideration of permanence being achieved by return to birth family or other means including long term fostering or adoption The care planning and assessment work will ensure that the child, birth family and foster carers have access to appropriate specialist services to meet particular needs such as for example education or health The views and wishes of the child or young person should be sought through a range of age appropriate means. This could also include the involvement of the Advocacy Project and Participation worker The Adoption Service will aim to ensure that there is a diverse and wide range of safe, stable and nurturing family placements to meet the needs of Wakefield s children who are in need of a permanent alternative family. This may also mean that services are commissioned through other Approved Adoption Agencies or through our arrangement with the Yorkshire and Humber Adoption Consortium if appropriate to meet particular needs Adoptive carers will be carefully recruited and trained and given access to support services to enable them to provide high quality care for the child/ren placed with them The Adoption Service will ensure in working with Fieldwork Services that adoptive parents are given access to full information about the child prior to placement. 5

6 1.15. The care plan for the child or young person will always consider the need for plans for contact with family and friends. Where there is a plan for permanence through adoption, it is important to provide comprehensive information about the child s life story, including a life story book, memory box and later in life letters. The child s social worker will co-ordinate this. The adoption support plan will specify arrangements for contact and for example how the letterbox scheme can support exchange of information for indirect contact through letters, cards and other If at all possible, siblings should be placed together unless identified needs indicate otherwise The Adoption Service will aim to ensure that full information is provided by the child s social worker about the child s background, family, needs and any issues of risk to inform the matching process The Adoption Service will aim to work in partnership with adoptive carers in an open and reliable way. Adoptive carers will be involved in planning and developing the service and kept informed about practice and policy developments Staff within the Adoption Service will receive supervision and access to a range of training opportunities to ensure they are well equipped to recruit, train, assess and support adoptive families, family find and place children appropriately and provide support to adopted adults, birth families and others in the adoption process. The Service will aim to maintain an adequate number of appropriately qualified, skilled and trained Adoption workers in order to facilitate the running of the service Experienced adopters are valued in the contribution they can make in the training, preparation and support of new adoptive families. 2. Adoption Partnerships 2.1. The Adoption Service has full membership with CoramBAAF. The Service has also been involved in the BAAF regional social work group, which shared relevant research and information, and promoted good practice Wakefield is a member of the Yorkshire and Humber Adoption Consortium, which works in partnership to identify families across the Yorkshire and Humber region for children who need adoptive placements. This has the benefit of maximising opportunities for children through collaborative arrangements and working. 6

7 2.3. The Adoption Service is working closely with colleagues and services in Health through arrangements with CAMHS and through dedicated health staff for looked after children including the Medical Adviser and LAC Nurses. The Medical Adviser prepares a written report for the adoption decision making process and will meet with prospective adopters to discuss the health needs of individual children. 3. Services Provided 3.1. The Adoption Service is part of Safeguarding and Family Support services within the Children and Young People Directorate. Co-location with a number of teams increases the benefits from close working links with other internally provided placement and fieldwork services for children and families The Adoption Team provides the majority of the Council s adoption services. However, work about the assessment of children s needs and legal processes are dealt with by social workers in the fieldwork teams Adoption Support services are provided from a number of sources including other agencies as well as adoption support social workers within the Adoption Team It is important that services for adoption and adoption support continue to develop and improve. A service improvement plan is in place and regularly monitored by managers to ensure that actions are taking place to improve services and provide services, which meet standards Adoption and Post Adoption Services provided are: Recruitment, preparation, training and assessment of prospective adopters Family finding for children who have a plan of adoption Matching of approved adopters with children Assessment of adoption support need, including financial support through an adoption allowance or grant where appropriate Support to adopters and adoptive families after approval and following placement, including adoption support plans and review of these plans, support groups and adoption celebration events Applications to the Adoption Support Fund Counselling to birth parents where adoption is the plan for their child/ren. Support about contact arrangements for adoptive and birth families and arrangements through the letterbox scheme. Support for inter-country adoption through consortium arrangements with Yorkshire Adoption Agency. 7

8 Services provided through a contract with After Adoption which include information and advice to adoptees seeking access to their birth records, independent counselling to birth parents, counselling to adoptive families. Post approval training for adopters 4. Recruitment, Assessment and Preparation 4.1. The Adoption Service will co-ordinate and action a strategy of recruitment which is based on the assessed needs of the looked after children of Wakefield and part of the overall Strategy for Looked After Children The recruitment strategy for the adoption service will be reviewed and updated to ensure that this is consistent with patterns of need. Targets for recruitment will be included in the Service Improvement Plan for the Adoption Service Enquiries from prospective adopters who are offering to be approved to adopt an older child or sibling group are particularly welcome and prioritised so that children s needs can be met A dedicated Recruitment and Events Officer will lead in making any arrangements for recruitment activity using a range of media and techniques Information about the Adoption Service and recruitment will be available on the Wakefield website, which is regularly updated. Additionally, information will be included on the Council s Facebook page and Twitter feed Enquiries will be welcomed from a wide range of prospective carers including couples with or without children, single parents, single men or women, lesbians and gay men, people from all ethnic backgrounds and people with disability Staff within the service will respond to enquiries and applications about adoption promptly and with high standards of customer care. Information and recruitment events will be held at regular intervals and can include contributions from experienced adoptive parents Prospective adopters contacting the service are provided with an information pack, early opportunity for verbal advice and information and an explanation about the adoption process. They will also be given information about the types of children Wakefield is currently seeking adoptive families for. They are asked to complete a Registration of Interest form if they wish to continue in the process to Stage One. 8

9 4.9. The prospective adopters are visited by a social worker from the Adoption Team at the beginning of Stage One to explain the process further and begin to discuss the complexities of adoption. They are then asked to complete their own learning as part of the Stage One process and the agency will commence undertaking checks and references, including DBS and medicals. This stage will last 2 months, at the end of which the social worker will again visit to discuss satisfactory completion of the required learning. If, after this visit the Prospective Adopters wish to proceed and there are no immediate difficulties identified, then they will be advised that they need to send notification of their wish to proceed to Stage Two to the agency. They can decide to take a break at this point for up to six months (any longer and Stage One will need to be completed again) Stage Two involves the Prospective Adopters being allocated a social worker to commence an assessment of their ability to parent a child through adoption in accordance with the Local Authority Adoption Agency Regulations Assessments of prospective adopters are undertaken following guidelines issued by the British Association of Adoption and Fostering. They will also be asked to attend Preparation Training during this stage. Stage 2 should take no longer than 4 months (from start to Agency Decision) unless there are specific reasons to extend this; this will be clearly recorded The Adoption Service will run preparation training groups for prospective adopters at regular intervals. Pre-approval training is a requirement for all prospective adopters and has input from an adoptive parent. Wakefield has been using the British Association of Adoption and Fostering training pack for Adopters and also uses in-house training materials, which are developed to a high standard. An additional half day training session is included purely for friends and family of prospective adopters There will be input from experienced adopters and foster carers and the opportunity to link up for further advice and support. Staff receive training and supervision about this part of their work Wakefield recognises the need to ensure that permanence needs of children from minority ethnic groups are met. We do this through our recruitment work or through having access to placements through our involvement in the Yorkshire and Humber Adoption Consortium and via use of the Adoption Register The needs of children with disabilities who require adoption are identified through our links with the Children with Complex Care Needs Team. 9

10 5. Approval, Adoption Panel and Agency Decision Maker 5.1. All applicants to become adopters for Wakefield are considered by the Adoption Panel, which makes a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker about the applicant/s suitability to adopt The Agency Decision Maker for Wakefield s adoption approvals is the Service Director for Safeguarding and Family Support Services, Mark Barratt Wakefield s Adoption Panel considers all matters relating to the approval, review and deregistration of adopters. The panels also consider whether a child relinquished by birth parents should be placed for adoption and forms a view about matching a child with prospective adopter/s The Agency Decision Maker will separately decide whether adoption should be the plan for children who are subject to court proceedings after carefully considering all relevant information about the child and their circumstances. The Agency Decision Maker for children s adoption plans being sought via court processes is the Service Manager for Safeguarding. The Agency Decision Maker for relinquished children (whose plans are considered at Adoption Panels) is Service Director, Mark Barratt The Adoption Panel sits every 3 weeks; chaired by an Independent Chairperson. Additional panels will be held if there is a need The Adoption Panel complies with regulations, which set out requirements for membership, including people with experience relating to adoption, independent people and numbers in attendance for quoracy. There is also a Medical Adviser and Agency Adviser for the panel. Additionally there is access to legal advice as required Before the assessment report is provided for the Adoption Panel this will be shared with the prospective adopters and there is opportunity to include any comments as well as their personal statement. The report will include a recommendation from the assessing Adoption Social Worker about approval, the age, gender and numbers of children the applicants would be able to meet the needs of should they be approved Panel members receive a copy of the prospective adopters assessment report (PAR) in advance of the meeting and the assessing social worker will attend the panel to answer any questions raised. All prospective adopters are invited to attend the Panel meeting but not attending does not prejudice the application. Prospective adopters are verbally advised of the Panel s recommendation on the day of the Panel. 10

11 5.9. The Adoption Panel is fully minuted and recommendations are placed on adopter s and children s adoption record The Panel s recommendations must be considered by the Agency Decision Maker within 7 working days of receiving the Panel minutes. Applicants are advised of the decision in writing. 6. Matching for Placement 6.1. Once approved, prospective adopters are informed that they are now available to be considered for a potential match with a child or children The first consideration is given to Wakefield children who are in need of an adoptive placement Permission is also sought from the prospective adopters to forward their details to the Yorkshire and Humber Adoption Consortium database and to the National Adoption Register. This means prospective adopters can be considered for a suitable match from anywhere in the country. 7. Training 7.1. The Adoption Agency will ensure that social workers who undertake the assessment of prospective adopters will have experience of adoption work, access to appropriate training and supervision to keep up to date with practice and legal developments The local authority has adopted the Signs of Safety approach to child protection casework and all social workers are mandated to attend the basic 2 day training. Ongoing support is provided at supervision and sharing of good practice mechanisms are in place within the team Those on the central list of Panel Members have access to annual training and this can include training with members of the Adoption Team The local authority has a robust annual appraisal process in place with six monthly reviews. Personal Development Plans produced identify support and training required to meet statutory responsibilities and personal development goals. 8. Performance and Monitoring of Services 8.1. Elected Members and the Directorate Management Team will receive reports bi-annually about the management and outcomes of the Adoption Agency s work. These will include information about recruitment of adopters and placement of children, progress in the Service Improvement Plan and any key developments in policy, practice and legislation. 11

12 8.2. Elected Members will also receive an annually reviewed Statement of Purpose for executive approval Performance of timeliness of the adoption of children is monitored at the regular Performance Clinic in Children and Young People Services and also reported in the monthly Performance Bulletin Legislation requires that a review of the adoption service should take place on a three yearly basis and arrangements are in place for this. 9. Ofsted and Inspection 9.1. The Adoption Service will be inspected by Ofsted in accordance with the Adoption Regulations and the National Minimum Standards for Adoption. These inspections take place every 3 years and were previously carried out by Ofsted in January 2009 and May 2011 and by the Commission for Social Care (CSCI) in 2004 and A copy of the annual report is available on the website Ofsted can be contacted at: Ofsted, NBU, 3rd Floor, Royal Exchange Building, St Ann s Square, Manchester M227LA 10. Complaints Where there is a decision not to approve, applicants are advised that they can submit their written representation within 28 days of receiving the letter advising about the decision. Applicants are also advised that they can choose to have their case referred for consideration by the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) If applicants believe that they have been treated unfairly by the Adoption agency then advice is provided about the right to use the Council s Complaints Procedure Wakefield Council and Children and Young People services have established arrangements for dealing with complaints from children and adults who are not satisfied with any aspect of the service they have received. 12

13 10.4. Any service user can make a complaint directly to the social worker or the manager providing the service or directly to the Complaints and Representations Section. Children are given information about a freephone service, which goes directly to the Complaints and Representations Section. Children can also have access to the support of the independent Advocacy Service The Complaints and Representations Manager will determine how and by whom the complaint can be addressed. The emphasis will always be to ensure a prompt discussion and to solve the problem promptly and to the service user s satisfaction If the complaint cannot be resolved at the first stage or is deemed sufficiently serious then an independent investigator and independent person will investigate it at stage 2 of the complaints process The recommendations from stage 2 complaints and investigations are considered by a Service Manager who does not have line management responsibility for the service involved. 11. Registered Provider, Registered Individual and the Manager The registered provider of adoption services is Wakefield Council, Safeguarding and Family Support Services, Unit 21, Calder Vale Road, Wakefield. The Service Director is Mark Barratt who is the Agency Decision Maker for adoption matters and who is based at County Hall, Bond St., Wakefield WF1 2QL Safeguarding and Family Support Services are part of Children and Young People Services. The Corporate Director for Children and Young people Services is John Wilson who is based at County Hall, Bond St., Wakefield WF1 2QL Adoption Services are managed by Mark Nevill, Service Manager who is based at the offices in Calder Vale Road Day to day management of the Adoption Service is carried out by Julie Chew, Team Manager who is based at Calder Vale Road. 12. Qualifications of the Registered Manager The national minimum standards for adoption require that all the people involved in carrying on and managing the service Possess the necessary knowledge and experience of child care and adoption law and practice 13

14 Have management skills and financial expertise to manage the work efficiently and effectively Ensure that the service is run on a sound financial basis and in a professional manner The manager responsible for Adoption Services fulfils these requirements with their extensive knowledge and experience The national minimum standards for adoption require that the Registered Manager have A professional qualification in child care A qualification at level 4 NVQ in management At least two years of experience of working in a child care setting, within the past five years Ms Chew has a CQSW and NVQ Level 4 qualification. 13. Organisational Structure Adoption Services are provided within the structure set out below Corporate Director John Wilson Children and Young People Services Service Director Mark Barratt Safeguarding and Family Support Services Service Manager Mark Nevill Fostering Team Manager x2 Adoption and Permanence Team Manager Admin service 14

15 Fostering Teams Adoption Team Admin Team The Adoption Services are provided mainly through the Adoption and Permanence Team and are part of Placement Services within the Children and Young People services Directorate. 14. Staff Profile The Adoption and Permanence Team are based at: Children and Young People services Unit 21 Green s Industrial Estate Calder Vale Road WAKEFIELD WF1 5PH Tel: Fax: All staff in the Adoption and Permanence Team has an annual appraisal and a personal Development Plan, which identifies their development needs and the training, which can help them to progress and improve their skills, abilities and knowledge Staff in the Adoption and Permanence Team are: Staff Profile Designation Adoption Team Manager Name Julie Chew Qualifications C.Q.S.W & NVQ Level 4 Experience Residential worker, Social Worker/Senior Practitioner, Assistant Area Team Manager, Team Manager, Looked After Children Team,

16 2007 Team Manager, Adoption & Permanence Team, present Adoption Team Principal Social worker Adoption Support Qualifications Experience Social Worker Qualifications Experience Social Worker Qualifications Experience Amy Wood DipSW, 2003 & PQ1 Social Worker/Senior Social Worker, Looked After Children Team, Adoption & Permanence Team, present Irene Ineson DipSW 1995 Bretton College. General Child Care social work experience from 1995 then specialist family placement work from Jane O Toole DipSW 1997 Social worker in childcare fieldwork team in Wakefield in 1997 and then joined a Family Support Team in 2003 working with child protection, family support and statutory work. Joined the Adoption & Permanence Team in Social Worker Qualifications Experience Justina Evans BA in Social Work, Anderson University, Indiana, USA, 2003 PQ1 Worked for a catholic adoption agency in the USA from July 2003 working with parent s rights and finding adoptive parents. Joined the Adoption & Permanence Team in Wakefield in November

17 Social Worker Amanda Clifford Qualifications DipSW 2002 PQ1 Experience Started work as a Social Work Assistant in Wakefield in 1988 and joined a childcare team in this role in After qualifying as a social worker worked in a Family Support Team with child protection, family support and statutory work. Joined the Adoption & Permanence Team in Social Worker Zakar Hussain Qualifications BSC (Hons) Social Work 2008 PQ1 Experience Worked for Bradford Social Services 2001 to 2005 in their Children s Department as first point of contact for all enquiries. From September 2005 to August 2008 was a Trainee Social Worker with Wakefield MDC during which gained experience with Social Care Direct, Sure Start, Family Support Team, Initial Response Team and Fostering Team. Joined the Adoption & Permanence Team in September Social Worker Qualifications Experience Caroline Booth BA (Hons) Applied Studies & DipSW 2001 PQ1 Area team Social Worker (Children s) Looked After Children s Team Adoption Team 2011 to date. Adoption Contact Officer and Records Administrator Service provided via admin team 17

18 15. Useful Contacts Children and Young People services, Wakefield Council Complaints & Representations Section Normanton Town Hall High Street Normanton WF6 2WB Tel Childline NATN 1111 London E1 6BR Children s Advocacy Service Barnardos Services Limited 51 West Mead Airedale Castleford WF10 3AF Office of the Children s Rights Director Commissions for Social Care Inspection St Nicholas Buildings St Nicholas Street Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1NB 18

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