South Gloucestershire Council Adoption Service. Statement of Purpose

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1 Appendix one South Gloucestershire Council Adoption Service Statement of Purpose December 2011 This Statement of Purpose is published in accordance with the requirements of the Care Standards Act The Statement is intended to provide a clear written statement of the aims and objectives of South Gloucestershire Council as an Adoption Agency. In addition specific information is provided on the management, organisation and services provided by, or in support of, South Gloucestershire Council s Adoption Service. Members of the public can find further information available on the Council s website or in the information booklets and leaflets available through the Adoption Service. Social workers and other staff members can obtain more detailed information in the South Gloucestershire Adoption Procedures and in the Children s Social Care Divisional Procedures.

2 Contents 1. Aims and Objectives 2. The Registered Manager 3. Adoption Service Staff 4. Primary Functions of the Adoption Service 5. Context and Organisation of the Adoption Service 6. The Adoption and Permanence Panel 7. Monitoring and Evaluation 8 Recruitment, Preparation, Assessment and Approval 9 Matching and Placement 10 Adoption Support 11 Support Services for children looked after 12 Support Services for Children Looked After where adoption is the preferred plan 13 Complaints 14 The Registration Authority Appendix 1: Adoption Service Staffing 2

3 1 Aims and Objectives South Gloucestershire Council has agreed with its partners a vision for all children and young people living in South Gloucestershire. This is the framework for the Council s aspirations for children and young people who are looked after and who are adopted. The Council s vision is expressed through the South Gloucestershire Charter for Children and Young People which states that all children and young people have a right to a life in which they: Enjoy the best possible physical and mental health and live a healthy lifestyle Have equality of opportunity Are given encouragement and opportunities to learn, develop, enjoy and achieve, both in and outside school Are protected from harm and neglect and feel safe both at and outside of home and school Are supported by their parents and carers, and their peers Are encouraged to play a full part in their communities and behave in a socially responsible manner. The South Gloucestershire Council Adoption Service seeks to achieve these aims through the provision of services, which will result in South Gloucestershire children who are adopted, and children who are adopted by South Gloucestershire families being cared for in an environment where they have security and stability. Adoption should enable them to develop in surroundings conducive to: Being healthy and well Being safe and able to look after themselves Having the skills needed to manage adult life Becoming active and fulfilled citizens Having the hope of economic success and enabled to reach their potential. 1.4 The Adoption Service endorses the Values underpinning the National Adoption Standards in setting service objectives: To maximise the contribution adoption can make in providing permanent families for children in appropriate cases. 3

4 To recruit, assess, train and support a range of suitable adopters from diverse backgrounds to meet the needs of children and young people locally. To ensure that children and young people are matched with stable and permanent placements that best meet their assessed needs. To ensure that the views and feelings of children and young people are taken into account as far as these can be ascertained based on the individual s age and understanding. To welcome without prejudice people who are interested in becoming adoptive parents and to prioritise prospective adopters who are most likely to meet the needs of children waiting for adoptive placements. To recognise the lifelong implications of adoption for birth parents and birth families and to support their potential contribution to the maintenance of their child s heritage. To manage and provide skilled and experienced staff capable of undertaking the functions of the Adoption Service, ensuring access to good quality training and up-to-date information on professional and legal developments. To maintain an efficient and informed Adoption and Permanence Panel capable of making timely recommendations directed towards promoting and safeguarding the welfare of children. To ensure that an accountable framework exists for all stages of the decision making process and that decisions are made without unnecessary delay. Through direct provision or by commission, to provide a range of adoption support services for each stage of the adoption process. To provide, subject to assessment, financial support adequate to help secure a suitable adoption where a child cannot be readily adopted because of a financial obstacle. 2 The Registered Manager of South Gloucestershire Council s Adoption Service is: Name: Ms Nicola Godfrey Date of Appointment: October 2011 Qualifications: Certificate of Qualification in Social Work Post-Graduate Certificate in Management Studies 4

5 Relevant Experience: Ms Godfrey has had significant experience as a childcare social worker undertaking as part of her duties all aspects of the adoption process, and as a social worker in the Family Placement Team. She has extensive experience as an Assistant Team Manager and has been the Team Manager in the Family Placement Team for seven years. 3 Adoption Service Staff Details of staff specific to the Adoption Service are set out at the end of this document. 4 Primary Functions of the Adoption Service 4.1 South Gloucestershire Council Department for Children and Young People is an Adoption Agency within the meaning of the Adoption Act 1976, the Care Standards Act 2000 and the Adoption and Children Act As an Adoption Agency the Department is able and required to: Assess the needs of children looked after by the Council, decide whether adoption is in the best interests of particular children and, where appropriate, place these children with prospective adopters. Recruit, assess, and approve people as prospective adopters. Support in a variety of practical and financial ways, adopters and adoptees both before and after adoption arrangements are made through the courts To advise and commission assessments of applicants who wish to be considered for inter-country adoption Schedule 2 counselling - counselling for adults who have been adopted. To assess applicants wishing to apply for a Special Guardianship Order and support Special Guardians, children subject to Special Guardianship Orders and relatives of such children. 5 Context and Organisation of the Adoption Service 5.1 The South Gloucestershire Council s Adoption Service is located within the Family Placement Team, which is part of the Commissioning, Corporate Parenting and Specialist Provision section of the Department for Children and Young People (DCYP). 5

6 5.2 The Head of Integrated Services has overall responsibility for the majority of the social care function for services for children and young people. 5.3 The Integrated services are provided in three distinct service areas. These are managed and organised as follows: The Locality Community Teams serving two geographical areas of South Gloucestershire and the Through Care Team are managed by the Locality Service Manager. Each of the Locality teams offer the initial contact and assessment, Children in Need and Child Protection functions. The Child Health and Disability Team and the Family Placement Team are central teams and are part of the service managed by the Commissioning, Corporate Parenting and Specialist Service Manager. The Early Intervention and Prevention services incorporate the Family Solutions service alongside the universal services for Youth and Early Years. The service area is managed by a Service Manager post which is presently a job share. 5.4 The Head of Quality and Standards has responsibility for the Quality Assurance Service, which is managed by the Safeguarding Children Strategy Manager. The Quality Assurance Service includes the Quality Assurance and Reviewing Unit where the Independent Reviewing Officers are employed with responsibility for chairing of child protection conferences, looked after children reviews, complex child protection strategy meetings, and assurance of effective and consistent integrated working processes in relation to child protection and looked after services. The Safeguarding Children Strategy Manager is also responsible for the business of the statutory Local Safeguarding Children Board, including all the sub groups, and the development and monitoring of all policies and procedures relating to the business of the Board across the department and other agencies. This post will also fulfil the function of Local Authority Designated Officer, responding to allegations against people who work with children, and will manage the complaints function for social care and the Caldicott role in relation to access to information and data, including social services case files. 5.5 The Adoption Service Agency Decision Makers for the adoption service are the Head of Integrated Serves and the Social Care Service Manager 5.6 The Family Placement Team provides, from its base at Badminton Road, Yate, a fostering, adoption and short break service across the authority. 6

7 5.7 The Family Placement Team Manager has considerable management experience of adoption and is supported by four Practice Managers, one of whom has responsibility for Permanence and Adoption. 5.8 The Family Placement Team Managers supervise the 15 full time equivalent social work staff within the team. All the Social Workers are qualified and have a range of significant adoption fostering, and child care experience. The team also contains a Training Officer (qualified Social Worker, supporting adopters and foster carers), a specialist Marketing and Recruitment Officer, a Finance Officer, 1 Information Assistant and an Adoption/Fostering Administrator who provides support to the Adoption and Permanence Panels and administers the Adoption Letterbox Scheme. The Family Placement Team is supported by two Administrative Assistants who are managed by the Team s Managers. 5.9 The Adoption Service within the Family Placement team consists of the Team Manager, the Practice Manager (Adoption and Permanence), a Senior Practitioner and three qualified adoption social workers. Two further Social Workers are employed for providing adoption support and Special Guardianship support The Locality Child Care Teams undertake initial and core assessments and work with children and their birth families when children and young people first enter care. The child is then transferred to the Through Care Team The Through Care Team undertakes court work, adoption, support to long term looked after children and services to Care Leavers. 6 The Adoption and Permanence Panel 6.1 The Adoption and Permanence Panel receives reports on prospective adopters, children for whom adoption is recommended, matching requests and other matters. The Panel has an independent Chair and Vice Chair and other independent members with personal experience of adoption or specialist knowledge. There is a list of members from which the Panel can be convened. 6.2 The Panel Adviser role is fulfilled by the Family Placement Team Manager who attends Panel and liaises as required with managers and social workers presenting papers to Panel. 6.3 The Designated doctor is the Medical Advisor to the Panel; a child care solicitor acts as the Legal Adviser to the Panel. 6.4 The Panel also fulfils a quality assurance role and the Chair will report back to both the Agency Decision Maker and the Registered Manager on any cases involving poor practice. 7

8 6.5 The Adoption and Permanence Panel has a minimum of two development days per year at which Panel business will be reviewed. Adoption service staff and the Agency Decision Maker are included in these days. 6.6 All Panel members have an annual review/appraisal undertaken by the Chair of the Panel and the Panel Adviser. The annual review of the Chair is undertaken by the Agency Decision Maker and the Panel Adviser. 7 Monitoring and Evaluation 7.1 There are systems in place to ensure that services provided by the adoption service are effective and the quality of those services is of an appropriate standard. 7.2 The Adoption Agency provides two reports per year to Elected Members which includes statistical information on the work of the adoption service and the Adoption and Permanence Panel. The reports are presented to the Children and Young People s Select Committee and Cabinet Meeting. These reports are also presented to the full Council. 7.3 The Adoption Service Statement of Purpose is presented for an Executive Decision annually. 7.4 A monthly Performance Monitoring Meeting is chaired by the Director of Children s Services and looks at the performance of social care in respect of looked after children. A quarterly bulletin, Performance Indicators, is published which contains information on key indicators relevant to the adoption service. Performance is updated on a quarterly and/or annual basis and is available for monitoring by senior officers and Elected Members. 7.5 The Corporate Parenting Steering Group, chaired by the Executive Member for Children and Young People, receives reports on adoption activity within the authority. 7.6 All prospective adopters attending the Adoption and Permanence Panel for approval and matching receive a written questionnaire seeking information on their experience. This information is collated and used by both the Adoption and Permanence Panel and the Adoption Project Group (which meets monthly), chaired by the Family Placement Team Manager to inform practice. 7.7 Independent Reviewing Managers (IRMs) chair all statutory reviews prior to an Adoption Order being granted providing a mechanism outside the adoption service for monitoring of care planning and individual experience. IRMs are required to report all concerns through the Quality Assurance and Review Manager to the relevant Team Managers. 7.8 Children and young people have access to a consultation process for their reviews, which enables them to raise issues or concerns. An 8

9 advocacy service is available to assist with this. Issues raised in this way are considered by senior management and will influence service delivery. 7.9 All adoption service staff receive regular supervision and annual performance appraisals The adoption service is inspected by Ofsted against National Minimum Standards The South West Adoption Consortium (of which the adoption service is a member) produces quarterly reports of its work, which are circulated to all member agencies, including information on the number of children and adopters from each agency for whom a placement is achieved. 8 Recruitment, Preparation, Assessment and Approval 8.1 The adoption service has a specialist Marketing and Recruitment Officer who analyses service needs in conjunction with team members and arranges general or specific recruitment advertising and literature as required. 8.2 All enquirers to the adoption service will receive a copy of the booklet Thinking about Adoption? The booklet describes the broad range of people who can adopt, the adoption process, the types of children requiring adoption, preparation, assessment, the adoption process, support and the complaint procedure. This is sent within a working day of the enquiry. Enquirers are invited to attend an Information Evening, which provides an opportunity for them to learn more about adoption and what is involved, and anyone proceeding to a full adoption assessment will have received at least one initial visit from an adoption social worker to further discuss adoption matters. 8.3 When an application to be assessed as a prospective adopter is accepted, statutory checks and references are required. Applicants will be invited to attend a preparation course. These are held a minimum of twice a year. An information pack is provided, which includes the Statement of Purpose. 8.4 A Home Study / Assessment report will be undertaken by a qualified Social Worker. All social workers receive supervision during completion of assessments by a suitably qualified practitioner. Enquiries from and assessments of people who wish to be considered as inter-country adopters are dealt with by PACT (Parents and Children Together). The Adoption Service provides other services to inter-country adopters in line with statutory requirements. 8.5 The Home Study / Assessment will be presented to the Adoption and Permanence Panel who will recommend whether to approve the application or not. Applicants will be invited to attend the Panel meeting with their assessing Social Worker. 9

10 8.6 The Panel recommendation will be passed to the Agency Decision Maker, who will make a decision within 7 working of the Panel meeting. The applicants will be informed of the agency s decision within two working days, with written confirmation sent to them within five working days. 9 Matching and Placement 9.1 Approved adopters will have an allocated social worker from the adoption service and will receive a copy of the information booklet Information for Approved Adopters. This booklet describes the processes involved in matching, introductions, placement preparation (including consideration of adoption leave and adoption pay entitlements), pre and post adoption support and preparation. The booklet also contains information on the regional adoption consortium and the Adoption Register. The details of approved adopters are forwarded, with consent, by the adoption service to the Adoption Register. 9.2 The Adoption Project Group maintains a list of all approved adopters and all children waiting and will also have information on children for whom adoption is being considered. This information will be discussed in the monthly adoption group meeting and during individual supervision sessions to identify potential matches. 9.3 The Adoption and Permanence Panel will make matching recommendations on consideration of applicant and child assessments and other appropriate reports, including the Adoption Placement Report. The applicants are invited to attend the Panel for this meeting. The Panel recommendations will be forwarded to the Agency Decision Maker and the decision will be made, and notification of this decision passed to all parties, within the required timescales. 9.4 The process of introductions (including contact with existing foster carers and where possible with birth family members) is set out in the booklet Information for Approved Adopters. 10 Adoption Support 10.1 An Adoption Support Plan, based on needs identified in both the assessment of the child and adoptive household, will be prepared, signed by the prospective adopters and presented to the Adoption and Permanence Panel at the time when a prospective adoptive match is being considered. The Plan should set out clearly: The objectives of the plan and the key services required The timescales for achieving the plan The individual worker who will be responsible for co-ordinating and monitoring the delivery of the services in the plan 10

11 The respective roles of others responsible for implementing the plan The criteria that will be used for evaluating the success of the plan The procedures for reviewing the plan If support is considered necessary after the granting of an adoption order a further Adoption Support Plan will be prepared using the same principles Adoption support services are available to all adoptive families and children in South Gloucestershire subject to assessment The adoption service has an Adoption Support Social Worker who is responsible for undertaking and co-ordinating assessments for post adoption support and making recommendations to the Practice Manager/ Team Manager. A leaflet Post Adoption Support Services is available. The leaflet invites adopters to contact the service We are a non-judgemental service, your request for support will be viewed as a strength and not as an inability to cope. There is a range of adoption support services arranged by the Adoption Support Social Worker which include: Direct work with individual families based upon a Team Around the Child Approach model (TAC) Ongoing Adoption Support Groups, which include the following - a Developmental Re-Parenting Group - a Bi-Monthly Adoption Support Group for Adopters (guest speakers are invited and the meetings follow a theme in relation to adoption issues for adopters and their children in their early years, middle years and teenage years) - a Coffee Morning for Adopters and their children (usually under 5 years of age), School Consultations may be undertaken by a specialist provider who provides school staff with training and bespoke strategies for individual children Buddy Scheme - facilitated by Adoption Support Social Worker when families need peer support Supper Scheme for new adopters - new adopters can be provided with an evening meal (by other adopters) in the initial stages of a child being placed The Adoption Support Social Worker can also call on any of the child and family support services available within children s social services to undertake work with adopted children and / or their adoptive families. 11

12 10.5 The Department for Children and Young People provides integrated services consisting of social work, education and youth services. Arrangements between all three services for the support of placements for looked after children are also available to assessed adoptive placements Similarly, arrangements established between the Department for Children and Young People and partner agencies such as North Bristol Trust and NHS South Gloucestershire may be available to identified adoptive placements The Department also commission's specific specialist services. These include membership for two years of the Adoption UK for all families adopting a child from South Gloucestershire and counselling from SWAN or other sources as required. 11 Special Guardianship Orders assessment and support 11.1 The Adoption and Children Act 2002 introduced the Special Guardianship Order as a further permanence option for children, where adoption is not appropriate but security of a legal arrangement is wanted. The assessment of people wishing to become Special Guardians is undertaken by a social worker in the Family Placement Team. 12 Support Services for Children Looked After where adoption is the preferred plan 12.1 There are a variety of measures being undertaken to support the best possible life chances and opportunities for children looked after by South Gloucestershire to ensure good outcomes now and in the future. Education The Virtual Head Teacher for looked after children has oversight of the education provision and outcomes of looked after children. There is a multi-disciplinary team of professionals, The Virtual Education Team, which provides or arranges support for children and the professionals working with children. Personal Education Plans All children of school age currently in South Gloucestershire s care have a Personal Education Plan (PEP). This plan focuses on the educational aspects of the Care Plan of which they form an integral part. As well as monitoring achievement, the plans will identify strengths as well as areas of social and academic need. The plans are reviewed every six months and feed into the statutory review where they can be monitored. All schools have a Designated Teacher for Looked After Children whose role is to coordinate services for looked after children and raise awareness among staff about the specific difficulties the children face in school. Designated Teachers also provide an initial 12

13 point of reference for social workers, carers and other professionals working with the child. The educational attainment of looked after pupils is rigorously monitored to assist early identification of problems. Three qualified teachers are employed to independently assess the needs and abilities of all looked after children within their schools. Advice is given to the school on how to provide support for the child, one to one tuition will be provided by this teacher or the identified needs will trigger a referral for another service, such as a home tutor. Specific information about the needs of adopted children is also provided. Children and young people who are looked after and are identified as in need of particular assistance to support their education will be considered for assistance through funding from the Personal Education Allowance. The opportunity to attend training in order to improve awareness and knowledge about issues affecting children in care, and to gain confidence in supporting young people s academic achievements has been provided to teachers, social workers and foster carers Corporate Parenting The Council s Department for Children and Young People has established a Corporate Parenting Strategy, the objective of which is to ensure that the corporate parenting responsibilities for all councillors and council employees are clearly outlined, in order that: Councillors have a clear understanding and awareness of the issues for looked after children in their authority so that they can ensure that their responsibilities as corporate parents are reflected in all aspects of the work of the Council; The corporate parenting commitment is realised through a quality of care and range of opportunities that lead to measurable improvement in the life chances of looked after children - enabling them to succeed in line with their peers; Communication between Councillors and looked after children is facilitated to achieve participation and inclusion, so that children and young people have a say in how decisions are made about the services that affect them, and that they have an opportunity to influence those decisions. Councillors are all trained in their responsibilities for Corporate Parenting. Executive Members are supported by officers to promote partnership working as a pre-requisite of delivering effective services to looked after children, and to ensure that the joint planning and commissioning framework continues to deliver to this agenda; The Council provides effective scrutiny of corporate parenting duties. There is a Corporate Parenting Steering Group chaired by the Executive Member for Children and Young People and includes key 13

14 stakeholders and Elected Members. The Group receives information on the Council s performance in respect of looked after children, and provides a forum for looked after children and young people to express their views for consideration in developing policy and in realising this strategy. This is further facilitated through consultation events, newsletters and direct consultation events between Councillors and looked after children. The Corporate Parenting Steering group works closely with the Children in Care Council. Together the groups have developed a Pledge to Children in Care which was agreed by the Children s Trust Board in July Other support provision 13 Complaints Health Health services are provided through North Bristol Trust (NBT). All Looked After children have a health assessment annually undertaken by a NBT paediatrician or the designated nurse. The paediatrician will complete a British Association of Adoption and Fostering form. Adoption Medicals are undertaken by the Designated doctor who also completes the adoption medicals for children and offers support and advice to prospective adoptive parents, This doctor is also the Medical Adviser for the Adoption and Permanence Panel. A service level agreement exists with NBT Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) to provide a service for foster carers, prospective adopters, adopters and social workers to seek advice and guidance. Housing A policy has been developed and approved by Housing and Children s Social care to prioritise identified foster carers with limited accommodation availability for larger accommodation to provide improved placement choice within the authority. A copy of the Department s Complaints Procedure is available by request or by visiting the Department s website on the South Gloucestershire Council website. Complaints regarding the adoption service can be made to: Fabian Fick Complaints Officer for Children s Services Department for Children and Young People PO Box 2082 Castle Street Thornbury BS35 9BQ Tel:

15 14 The Registration Authority The Office for Standards in Education, Children s Services and Skills (Ofsted) is the new single inspectorate for children and learners in England. Ofsted has a legal responsibility to promote improvement and to register and inspect social care services such as council adoption services. The address of the National Business Unit is: Ofsted National Business Unit Royal Exchange Buildings St Ann s Square Manchester M2 7LA Telephone:

16 Appendix 1 ADOPTION SERVICE STAFF DETAILS (as at ) Position or Role in the Agency Hours Per Week Name Year of Appointment Qualifications Team Manager 37 Nicky Godfrey 2004 CQSW Post-Graduate Certificate in Management Studies Practice Manager 30 Carrie Quine 2010 MSc Social Work Social Worker 18.5 Kate Cole 2011 DipSW Social Worker 18.5 Anjali Gupta 2011 DipSW and MSW Social Worker 37 Virginia Harper 2011 MA in Social Work Senior Practitioner Keri Michael 2002 DipSW PQCCA MSc Social Work Adoption Support Social Worker 37 Rosemary Baragwanath 2009 CQSW Social Worker Special Guardianship and Kinship Ami Chong 2005 DipSW Panel Administrator 37 Susan Wheatley

17 Position or Role in the Agency Hours Per Week Name Year of Appointment Qualifications Information Assistant 37 Victoria Henry 2004 Training Officer 30 Judith Meek 1999 CQSW Marketing and Recruitment Officer 37 Tony Bray 2007 Finance Assistant 37 Julie Clifford 2002 Admin Assistant 30 Heather Lander 2010 Admin Assistant 37 Nina Stedman

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