London Borough of Bromley Education, Care and Health Services Children s Social Care Bromley Adoption Service Statement of Purpose

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1 London Borough of Bromley Education, Care and Health Services Children s Social Care Bromley Adoption Service Statement of Purpose Mission Statement Bromley Council s Adoption Service believes that every child has the right to a permanent, secure and loving family which embraces their individual needs and differences, including their culture and identity where this is possible. 1

2 CONTENTS: 1. Aims of the Service 2. Objectives 3. Management Structure 4. Services Provided 5. Principles and Standards of Care 6. Social Work Staff 7. Summary of Complaints Procedure 8. Address and Telephone Number of Ofsted 9. Miscellaneous 10. Summary The Statement of Purpose sets out the aims and objectives of the Adoption Services and it is a requirement under the Adoption Agency Regulations (England) and the National Minimum Standards for Adoption and the Care Standards Act It is reviewed annually and presented to the Corporate Parenting Committee of the London Borough of Bromley. Organisation of Structure of the Adoption Service Bromley Education, Care and Health Services (ECHS) is a directorate within the London Borough of Bromley Council. The Children s Social Care Division, as part of ECHS, is responsible for the delivery of the Fostering Service. Within the Children s Social Care Division, there are specialist teams dealing with Referral and Assessment Safeguarding and Care Planning, Quality Assurance, Children in Care, Leaving Care, Adoption, Fostering, Commissioning, Youth Offending and Teenage and Parent Support. Social Workers for children requiring an adoption placement for a child are located in the area teams. The Adoption Team is part of the Family Placements Team and sits within the Care and Resources Service, thereby maintaining close links with the Safeguarding Team, The Fostering team, the Looked After Children's team, as well as the Commissioning team. The Bromley Adoption Service is responsible for establishing, maintaining and servicing the Bromley Adoption Panel. The Panel, in carrying out its regulatory functions, makes recommendations to the Agency Decision Maker. The work and performance of the Adoption Panel is included in the report on Adoption Activity submitted to the Care Services Portfolio Holder and the Corporate Parenting Executive. The service will be delivered in line with the following law, regulation and guidance: Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005 amended 2011 and Adoption & Children Act Adoption Statutory Guidance 2011 Amendments to the Adoption Statutory Guidance - issued 19th April 2011 Adoption National Minimum Standards

3 Care Planning, Placement and Care Review and Fostering Services (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations Aims of the Service Bromley endorses the view that children should be brought up in their own birth family where possible. If children are unable to live with their birth parents or within their wider family, our purpose is to provide good quality alternative care for children and young people that reflects and values individual needs and differences and promotes positive outcomes considered essential to wellbeing, both in childhood and later life. These outcomes are: Being healthy through support services including the looked after child health service Safeguarding Children (NMS 4,5,13, 14,22 &,29) Helping Children achieve well and enjoy what they do (NMS , 15.) Helping children make a positive contribution (NMS & 16) Achieving economic well-being. The Adoption Service consistently endeavours to provide high quality services and support to individuals and families who wish to adopt or who have been affected by adoption in their lifetime. Our aim is to offer a transparent service that is open and available to all sections of the community. London Borough of Bromley Adoption Service aims to provide a pool of good quality adoptive families, reflecting the diverse needs locally and nationally. The service aims to offer a comprehensive recruitment, training, supervision and support package to adopters. It also aims to minimise potential safeguarding risks by ensuring appropriate checks and reviews are in place and quality assurance is monitored through a comprehensive complaints process. Our involvement continues beyond the making of an Adoption Order and to all parties affected by adoption. 2. Objectives of the Adoption Service To provide a pool of good quality adopters, reflecting the diverse needs of children who need adoptive families. To educate and inform the local community of the benefits of adoption and the adoption process. To offer a comprehensive recruitment, training and support package to adopters. To provide a service that ensures the safety and well-being of Looked After Children. To minimise potential risks by ensuring appropriate checks and reviews are in place and quality assurance is monitored through a comprehensive complaints process. 3

4 To ensure that decisions are made with the 'best interests' of the child being paramount and that children s plans are agreed by the Agency Decision Maker within timescales for the child. To ensure that the welfare of children placed for adoption is promoted in relation to the need for stability and to ensure that health and education needs are met. To work in partnership with all parties. To ensure that prospective adopters have access to all relevant information about the child and their history. 3. Management Structure A Head of Service has overall responsibility for the adoption service and leads the Family Placements Services, of which the adoption team is part. The Adoption service consists of one Group Manager with responsibility for Fostering, Connected Persons and Adoption, one Adoption Performance Lead with responsibility for Adoption and Post Adoption Support, one Deputy Group Manager with responsibility for adoption recruitment, assessment, family finding and adoption support pre-order and one Deputy Group Manager with responsibility for Post- Adoption support services. 4. Services Provided The Service is structured to provide a service for any child needing a permanent placement and is committed to continuous improvement. The Service maintains close working relationships with the rest of the Children s Social Care to ensure a positive working partnership, to promote adoption and enhance the well-being of children being placed within a new family setting. The adoption service includes: Family Finding for children with an adoption plan Pre Adoption (all adoption work pre-order). Post Adoption (all Adoption Support Services). Intermediary Services (for reuniting families). Birth Records Counselling. In relation to Adoption Services these incorporate: Servicing the Bromley Council Adoption Panel Recruitment of adoptive parents Preparatory training course for prospective adopters Information sessions for those interested in adoption Prospective Adopters Reports assessment of adopters Prospective adopter reports for Inter-country adoption assessments (training is usually provided by the Inter country Adoption Centre) Completion of Court reports for non-agency adopters ( eg. Step-parent adoptions). 4

5 Family Finding Statements for Court as required to inform the decision making process during court proceedings Close working relationship with the Medical and Legal adviser to the Adoption Panel Support and training for approved adopters and families who have adopted offered by the our post-adoption specialists Access to training available via Bromley s Learning and Development Department Financial support including legal costs where adoption is contested Facilitating adoption contact including the administration of letterbox and direct contact between adopted children and their birth families Fostering for adoption and concurrent placements when in the best interest of the child Contributing to Permanence Planning Meetings for looked after children and advise on adoption matters Family finding and matching for Bromley children with an adoption plan Family finding for Bromley approved adopters Assessment and provision of adoption support services pre and post-order Chairing Adoption Placement Planning meetings and reviews Providing information for the Adoption Register for England and Wales The Provision and Review of Adoption Support Plans Inter-Agency Agreements (for adoption) Membership of the South East Adoption Consortium Court attendance giving evidence about Family Finding /matching. Adoption counselling for birth families Birth Records Counselling Investigation of complaints Updating Bromley s Service website Provision of information for the Executive side of the Council and the Magistrates Courts in respect of adoption matters Training for Adoption Panel Members. Information in relation to the Independent Review Mechanism 4.1 Duty service There is a dedicated adoption duty service available three days a week to answer enquiries relating to all aspects of Bromley s adoption services. Members of the public are able to receive appropriate advice regarding recruitment enquiries, non-agency adoption and birth records enquiries. Enquiries can also be made via our web site. Recruitment enquiries are also available through the website or and responded to by the admin team. Enquirers receive an information pack. Adopters who are unable to gain immediate access to their social worker can also speak to their supervisor, the Deputy Group Manager-Adoption or the duty social worker for advice and support. 5

6 4.2 Recruitment The service has developed a recruitment strategy to reflect the changing needs of the looked after children population. This addresses issues relating to recruitment of second time adopters, or new potential adopters, especially those from black and minority ethnic communities, and prospective adopters able to offer homes to older children and sibling groups. We are also planning to recruit to foster to adopt and concurrency to adoption placements. Enquiries of interest about adoption come through our main telephone line or via from our web page which are initially picked up by the admin team. Basic information is taken by an admin assistant and then the enquirer will be passed to an adoption worker if need be or an information pack is directly sent out. Enquirers who decide that they want to take their enquiry further are asked in the information pack to complete the initial enquiry form which is then returned to the adoption team. This is then allocated to an adoption worker who will have an initial discussion with the enquirer to glean more information, demonstrate Bromley s interest in them to ensure they meet adoption guidelines Enquirers are invited to an information evening to explain the process and nature of adoption If all parties are happy to continue after the information evening, the applicants are invited to register their interest and if this is accepted by our agency, they are invited to start Stage 1 of the assessment process The Stage 1 process involves statutory checks being completed and the adopters will also attend Preparation Groups for Adoption Stage 1. The adopters will undertake various tasks, including preparing their chronology, ecomap and any other work identified at the Stage 1 meeting If the outcome of Stage 1 is that the adopters will not be accepted to continue onto the next stage, written reasons will be provided to the prospective adopter Progression to Stage 2 of the assessment and completion of the Prospective Adopters Report is conditional on successful completion of Stage Assessment of Prospective Adopters The Adoption team is responsible for undertaking Prospective Adopters Report (PAR) assessment, using the Prospective Adopters Report and in accordance with the two stage approval process introduced in Adoption Agencies Regulations The adoption service provides a preparation training course for all applicants prior to undergoing an in-depth assessment, to offer applicants further information and complement the assessment process. The course covers the legal aspects of adoption, child development and attachment, loss and separation and an opportunity to meet with other adopters. Once applicants have been assessed, their case is presented to the Adoption Panel, to which prospective adopters are invited. The Adoption Panel makes a Recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker (Assistant Director) as to whether the applicant/s should be approved. 6

7 Once approved, adopters will receive regular visits from their social worker in line with Adoption Agencies Regulations 2011 and National Minimum Standards Prospective adopters also have access to the following services to support placements: Emergency Out of Hours social work team Bromley s Head Teacher of a virtual school for Looked After Children who is responsible for supporting schools in the education of Looked After Children, promoting their opportunities, monitoring their performance, preventing exclusion and enabling a smooth transition between schools, to enable them to achieve the best possible outcomes, and to ensure that the needs of Looked After Children and Adopted Children are a priority in every school. The Looked After Children Team and independent review officers work in close partnership with other agencies including the adoption team to ensure looked after children placed for adoption are safeguarded and their education and health needs are met. There is a designated nurse for looked after children who provides medical advice and support for looked after children. The looked after child nurse will have access to a child s history and can actively support adopters in accessing appropriate health care for children. All prospective adopters are able to access appropriate Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. This should be agreed with the social worker for the child, where appropriate, who will provide advice and support and see the adopter and/or child, if appropriate. Prospective adopters are invited to meet with the Adoption Panel Medical Adviser to discuss medical issues relating to the child(ren) they are to have placed with them Family Finding Function The Family Placements Team is involved in family finding for children who are unable to return to live with their birth family. The service works alongside the child s social worker to identify early on in the process whether the final placement will be an adoptive placement, long-term fostering, special guardianship, or a family and friends carer. It is recognised that a family identified must be able to care for a child into adulthood. Cases are allocated as appropriate to adoption or fostering social workers for alternative long term care. This work involves the identification of any suitable placements in-house or through the South East Adoption Consortium of which Bromley is a member. We also work with other Adoption agencies nationally, the Adoption Register, Adoption Link, Adoption UK and the British Association of Adoption and Fostering (BAAF). Specific advertising will be undertaken when necessary on the child s behalf to find the most suitable match for a child / sibling group Adoption Support Services, pre and post-order The Adoption Service is part of the South East Adoption Consortium which also includes Bexley, Kent and Medway. Profiles of prospective adopters and children awaiting placement are available to all consortium members. Profiles are also circulated with the PAN London agencies Group which Bromley is part of. 7

8 After a period of 3 months, providing no match has been made, an application to the Adoption Register is completed. This can occur before the 3 months if it is appropriate. Processes for matching children with adopters are consistently followed. All children are discussed at matching meetings, presented to panel and meetings take place to plan introductions. Adoption support plans are in place for children at the point of adoption. Support is considered and is provided to adopters, including financial assistance. Collaborating with our South East consortium partners in offering a BAAF managed activity day to encourage matches. The Adoption Service offers a programme of developmental workshops to adopters and provides information about other adoption support services locally or nationally Advice, information and the provision of intermediary services (including birth record counselling, tracing and facilitating reunion) is offered to adopted adults seeking information about their adoption and birth families and to birth family members affected by adoption seeking to make contact with a family member who has been adopted. The provision of intermediary services will be limited to adopted adults who live in the borough or who request access to their file and are willing to travel to the borough for access. The team also manages the confidential letter box service The provision of intermediary services will be limited to birth family members affected by adoption through residence in the borough. An annual picnic for adoptive families takes place in the summer months A regular Adoption Newsletter is sent out to all adopters All adopted adults and birth family members affected by adoption will receive the Information Leaflet for People Affected by Adoption. Birth families affected by adoption will also receive About Adoption : Information for Birth Families. Where a formal request is made for an adoption support assessment an adoption support referral will be completed and the referral acknowledged. The referral will be passed to the Adoption Support Services Adviser (ASSA) for consideration of priority for allocation and whether a full adoption support assessment, following the Assessment Framework, is required. Requests for financial assessment for an on-going allowance or significant lump sum payments will be subject to a financial assessment of means conducted by the Department. Where adoption support services are being provided they will be reviewed on an annual basis. 8

9 Should an adoption placement disrupt between the placement of the child and the making of the adoption order a Disruption Meeting will always be held in order to gain a full understanding of the issues involved and assist in future planning for the child and the adopters Support for Birth Families Birth family members are offered advice and guidance throughout the process of planning for the possible placement of their child for adoption. This is offered by the child s social worker for the child as part of working together. The team offers a counselling service for birth families and referrals can be received from a social worker or directly from the family member following a child being made the subject of an adoption plan. Where a counselling service is required an Adoption worker will provide this to a child, birth parent or guardian where it is considered that adoption should be the plan for the child. The adoption worker may work alongside another professional with whom the birth family member is already working e.g. CPN, GP surgery counsellor Life Story Work and Later Life Letters The Looked After Children team will ensure that each child placed for adoption has a Life Story Book and a Later Life Letter, completed by the appropriate social worker. Direct work is undertaken with children to prepare them for moving on as part of the child s Care Plan. The later life letter and life story work should be completed as soon as possible after the child is placed for adoption and before an adoption order is made. This is monitored through the Looked After Children s Review process. 4.8 Panel and Agency Decision Maker Bromley has an Adoption Panel and is compliant with Adoption Agency Regulations. Its membership has a range of backgrounds and experience in relation to adoption, including birth parent, adoptee and adopter. As required in Regulation 3, Bromley s adoption panel has an independent chair with the necessary skills, experience and authority to chair the panel. The central list is used to enable panel to be quorate and responsive. (NMS 17). The Panel considers all applications for adopter approval (domestic and Intercountry adoption) and the matching of children with adopters. The Adoption Panel is administered through the Council s Democratic Service. The panel considers diversity issues in relation to children s race, culture, language, religion, gender and disability. The Panel ensures the welfare and safety of children is paramount in its decision-making. Panel makes recommendations to the Agency Decision Maker who makes the decision. Prospective adopters are invited to attend Panel for both approval and matching considerations. Foster cares are also invited to attend in matching cases. Where applicants are not approved they are informed in writing. They are informed of their right to make representations on the matter to the Agency Decision Maker and are also informed of their right to appeal to the Independent Review Mechanism. 9

10 The Agency Decision Maker also makes decisions on all adoption plans for children. Referrals by the Safeguarding team are made to the Agency s Panel Adviser who quality assures the referral before being submitted to Agency Decision Maker for consideration. The rationale for decisions undertaken and the key documents read are recorded by the Agency Decision maker and placed on the child s file in line with Adoption Regulations. 4.9 Service Development We are continually developing the service that the Adoption team is able to offer, with an Adoption Performance lead taking responsibility for the adoption work. The service delivery is structured under the new principle social workers focus on more specialist areas of recruitment, assessment and post placement support. There is a programme of training for social workers and managers, organised by the Learning and Development Department All staff complete an Annual appraisal which includes a professional development plan. Training is held for Panel Members, and training needs are reviewed regularly with the Adoption Lead and the Panel Chair to ensure ongoing professional development. In accordance with recent government guidance we are working in much closer collaboration with our partners in the South East Adoption consortium. We are coordinating referrals to information and preparation groups to offer greater access choice and flexibility to prospective adopters. We are also jointly funding a Safebase Therapeutic Parenting Course for adopters offered to adopters post placement by After Adoption. The Adoption Service has access to the Authority s Medical Adviser and the Senior Solicitor within Legal, Democratic & Customer Services whose responsibilities include advising the Adoption and Fostering Panels and offering advice and consultation to social work staff, other professionals, adopters and foster carers The Adoption Team makes use of other Council Departments, as required, to support planning and delivery of services. 5. Principles and Standards of Care The service is properly managed by appropriately trained and qualified managers to ensure the best possible service. All staff are appropriately professionally qualified and properly checked and trained. They have a minimum of 3 years experience. Bromley has an annual appraisal system. All staff work according to the Policy and Procedures Manual, Adoption Regulations and National Minimum Standards. All staff liaise with the Safeguarding Children s Service who co-ordinate Child Protection investigations when deemed necessary. We follow Working Together and Adoption 2013 and relevant Legislation for allegations against professionals. 10

11 The adoption service values diversity and promotes equality in all aspects of service delivery. Quality systems and procedures are in place to ensure optimum service delivery; the service is managed in a way that delivers an effective and efficient service. The adoption service has clear administrative records and financial management systems pertinent to the running of the service. There are clear lines of accountability and delegation. Competent and experienced staff are employed to recruit, train and assess suitable adopters to meet the needs of children who require permanent families. The service is a fair and competent employer, following sound employment practice and offering good support for staff and adopters. The adoption service is committed to meeting and enhancing the learning and development needs of both staff and adopters. A training programme is available for Bromley foster carers covering important issues such as the education of Looked After Children, safe care and behaviour management, to which adopters are invited. We also provide training exclusively for adopters either through our own training programme or through consortium or PAN London events. Agreed contact with the birth family is managed within the adoption service. Adopters are encouraged where it is appropriate and part of a care plan to meet with birth family members. 6. Social Work Staff a. Responsibility for the management of the adoption service is held by the Head of Service Ian Leadbetter Civic Centre, Bromley, BR1 3UH Telephone: b. Numbers of staff 1 Head of Service 1 Group Manager 1 Adoption Lead 2 Deputy Group Managers 7 FTE Senior Practitioners 2 Administrative staff 1 Business analyst b. Qualification of staff All social workers have a social work qualification and are registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council. In addition all staff are qualified social workers. Some of the social work staff have Post Qualifying Awards and Practice Teaching Awards. c. Experience of staff 11

12 All staff are suitably experienced in the field of Family Placements, and are at least 3 years post qualified. 7. Summary of Complaints Procedure Under section 26(3) of the Children Act 1989 and the Complaints Procedure Directions 1990(b), Bromley has a complaints procedure and children, adopters and foster carers, service users are able to ask for an independent complaints officer. Their details are: CSC Complaints, 3rd Floor, Stockwell Building, Bromley, BR1 3UH Tel: ; All enquirers and adopters are given a copy of the Department s Complaints and Compliments leaflet should they feel they have been treated unfairly and wish to make a complaint. However, we would hope that complaints and comments could be dealt with at an informal stage, through the management and supervisory system wherever possible. Looked After Children also have access to an independent visiting service. Applicants being assessed under Stage Two and who are subsequently not considered suitable as adopters may make representations to Panel or access the Independent Review Mechanism. Complaints can also be addressed to Ofsted at: The National Complaints Team Ofsted National Business Unit Piccadilly Gate Store Street Manchester M1 2WD Telephone: Address and Telephone Number of Ofsted Bromley is regularly inspected by Ofsted. Contact details as above. The reports produced are available to the public and can be accessed via the website 9. Miscellaneous The Department holds membership of the Adoption UK, British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), Inter-Country Adoption Centre, London Region Adoption & Fostering Officers Group, The South East Adoption Consortium 10. Summary The aim and purpose of Bromley Placements Team (Adoption) is to meet the needs of all the children who live within our community and require an alternative permanent family. We will consider cross cultural placements provided this in the best interest of a child and the adopters are able to promote the needs of a child. We work within the principles of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, Children Act 2004, and the National Minimum Standards to ensure that the best interest of the child is paramount. If you require any further information about the service please contact the Adoption team on or 12

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