Introduction 2. Aims and Objectives of the Adoption Service 4. Management and Staffing 6. Personnel 7. Services to Children 9

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2 Contents Introduction 2 Aims and Objectives of the Adoption Service 4 Management and Staffing 6 Personnel 7 Services to Children 9 Recruitment & Assessment of Adopters 11 Post Adoption Service 13 Additional Services 14 Adoption Panel and Central List 15 The Agency Decision 17 Evaluation 18 Comments, Compliments and Complaints 20 Contact Details for the Registration Authority: Ofsted 21 The Structure of the Adoption Service 22 1

3 Introduction This Statement of Purpose sets out the aims, values, principles and the objectives of Blackpool Council Adoption Service. The Statement of Purpose fulfils the requirement of Standard 18 of the Adoption National Minimum Standards 2011, Regulation 2 of the Local Authority Adoption Services (England) Regulations 2003, Adoption Support Agencies (England) and Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005 and the Adoption & Children Act It also explains the provision of services of the Adoption Service, which are delivered in accordance with adoption legislation and regulatory frameworks including: The Children Act 1989 The Adoption and Children Act 2002 (revised 2011) The Adoption Minimum Standards 2011 Adoption Agencies and Independent Review of Determination (Amendment) Regulations 2011 The Adoption Agencies (Panel and Consequential Amendments) Regulations 2012 The Adoption Agencies Miscellaneous Regulations 2013 Care Planning, Placement and Case Review and Fostering Service Regulations 2013 Statutory Adoption Guidance Chapter 3 July 2013 This Statement of Purpose needs to be read in conjunction with the six monthly reports on adoption activity within the Council, which give detailed statistical information about the preceding six months. A copy of this Statement of Purpose will be forwarded to Ofsted and a copy will be made available, upon request to anyone involved with the Adoption Service. This includes anyone working for the purposes of the Adoption Service, children who may be adopted, their parents or guardians, adoptive parents and prospective adopters and adopted persons. It is available to view and download on the Council s Internet site. 2

4 A Children s Guide to Adoption will also be available in accordance with the above regulations and will be given to every child where the decision has been made that they should be placed for adoption. This contains local information about adoption, a summary of what happens at each stage of the adoption process, including at court, how long each stage should take, how a child can find out about their rights, how to contact their Independent Reviewing Officer, how to secure access to an independent advocate, how to make a complaint and how to contact the Children s Rights Officer and Ofsted. In addition, it may be appropriate for younger children to receive a picture storybook about children being adopted and where this is the case the child will be given their own copy of such a publication. The Children s Guide to Adoption is also available to view and download on the Council s internet site. A Children s Guide to Adoption Support Services is given to all children at the time of placement, dependent on age and understanding. It should also be given to those in receipt of adoption support services, and contains the information laid down in the Minimum Standards about how a child can find out about their rights, how they can contact their Independent Reviewing Officer, the Children s Rights Director, or Ofsted, if they wish to raise a concern with inspectors and how to secure access to an independent advocate. The Statement of Purpose, the Children s Guide to Adoption, and Children s Guide to Adoption Support Services will be translated if required by any service user. The Statement of Purpose, Children s Guide to Adoption and Children s Guide to Adoption Support Services will be reviewed at least on an annual basis and Ofsted informed of any revision within 28 days. The agency has policies and procedures in place that relate to the work of the adoption agency and these are reviewed regularly. The updating of these policies and procedures is now undertaken by the social care company TRI-X. They are available to access on the internet. 3

5 Aims and Objectives of the Adoption Service To safeguard, support and promote the best interests of children through the provision of adoption services that ensure permanent, secure and effective care for children where adoption is in a child s best interest. To ensure that children live with prospective adopters where they feel loved, feel safe and are safe, where their physical, emotional and psychological health is promoted, where they are able to enjoy their interests, develop confidence and are supported and encouraged to engage in leisure activities, where they are supported to achieve their educational potential and where the education and achievements of children are valued and promoted. To recruit, prepare, assess and approve prospective adopters that are able to meet the needs of children awaiting adoption in Blackpool, or indeed within the north west or nationally. This includes a response to those seeking information about adoption, that is timely and accords with National Standards. To make appropriate and timely decisions regarding the care planning and placement of children for adoption. To ensure that children are placed, with siblings wherever possible, within a timescale that is without unnecessary delay. To co-ordinate the matching process for children awaiting adoption. Families will be sought who can meet most, if not all, of a child s assessed needs. This process may include specific profiling for a family either locally or nationally. To provide a support service for those approved to adopt and to promote the profiles of families who are awaiting the placement of a child, both locally and nationally. To ensure that adoption is considered for all children who are in need of a permanent alternative family but also to ensure that children are not left waiting indefinitely for an adoptive family. 4

6 To operate an adoption panel which makes appropriate recommendations about the suitability of prospective adopters, the matching of children with approved adopters and gives consideration to cases where birth parents are in agreement with a care plan for adoption and no application for placement order is made. To ensure that the adoption panel and decision maker make timely, robust, and appropriate recommendations/decisions in line with the overriding objectives to promote the welfare of children throughout their lives. To provide information, advice and support either directly or by commissioning services to all those involved in the adoption process, such as the child, birth parents, prospective adopters, adopted children and adults, adopters and their families. This includes a Partner/step parent adoption service and Inter-country adoption service. To operate an adoption mailbox system, where indirect contact is facilitated between various parties involved in the adoption process to assist and facilitate direct contact arrangements when appropriate for an adopted child. To provide a service for adopted adults who choose to seek their adoption history and also to those seeking information about relatives who have been adopted. This will include signposting individuals to an agency who will provide an intermediary service. 5

7 Management, Staffing & Organisational Structure of the Adoption Service Sue Harrison is the Director of Children s Services in Blackpool. Dominic Tumelty, is the Head of Children s Social Care and also the Adoption Agency Decision Maker. A second Adoption Agency Decision Maker is Principal Social Worker Linda Evans. The Permanence Champion, Hilary Thomas co-ordinates and presents the cases for children who should be placed for adoption to the Agency Decision Maker. Martin Birch is the Service Manager for Looked after Children which comprises ; two Looked After Children s Teams, for under and over 12 years of age, Residential services, Fostering Services and the Adoption Service. Martin Birch is also the Adoption Support Services Adviser. An organisational chart is included. The Adoption Team Manager Carol Nowell manages the Adoption Service. The Adoption Team consists of the Team Manager, 1 Advanced Practitioner, 4.5 Social Work posts, 1 Post Adoption Support post, and 1 Team Administrator. The Team Manager of the Adoption Service team is responsible for; Managing services for the recruitment, assessment, training and support of adopters and prospective adopters. Family finding service for children who have a care plan of adoption. Co-ordinating the provision of adoption support services for all of those affected by adoption, including adopted adults and birth parents. Organising the Adoption Panel and acting as the Adoption Agency Panel Adviser. 6

8 Personnel The Adoption Team in Blackpool is based at the location below: Progress House Clifton Road Blackpool Lancashire FY4 4US Telephone: address: Website: The Adoption Team consists of the following personnel: Team Manager Carol Nowell, Social Worker 37 hours a week Team Members Ann Hearne, Advanced Practitioner 37 hours a week Prith Shori, Social Worker 30 hours a week Deepti Walia, Social Worker 37 hours a week Garth Twose, Social Worker 37 hours a week Leona Hurley, Social Worker 37 hours a week 7

9 Samantha Cunningham, Social Worker 18.5 hours a week Tracie Maxwell, Adoption Support Social Worker 37 hours a week - temporary Judith Tranmer, Adoption Support Social Worker 18.5 hours a week Temporary Vacancy, Social Worker, 37 hours a week All staff members are qualified social workers with substantial experience in childcare social work, fostering and adoption work. They are all registered with the Health and Care Professions Council. The Manager and staff employed in the agency have satisfactory enhanced Criminal Record Bureau/ Disclosure and Barring Service checks. These are reviewed every 2 years and a system is in place to ensure that this occurs. The Team Manager Carol Nowell holds a BA (Hons) Degree in Social Work and Community Studies and an NVQ Level 5 qualification in Leadership and Management skills. She was appointed to the Team Manger post as a permanent position in February The Team Manager has over 18 years postqualifying experience in child care and adoption social work. 8

10 Services to Children The Adoption Service provides services for children requiring adoption. However the responsibility for identifying adoption as the appropriate care plan for a child is primarily a decision made within the Locality and Looked after Children under 12 Teams who work within the care planning and court process. The Adoption Team Family Finding Social Worker works with the child s Social worker at an early stage to gather information for family finding. The Adoption Team commence family finding for children who have a care plan of adoption. The Should be placed for Adoption Agency Decision Process is co-ordinated by the Permanence Champion and presented to the Agency Decision Maker There is a timetabled process of within 26 weeks concluding with the presentation of the case to the court. The search for a family commences within Adoption 22. Adoption 22 is a collaboration of the 23 local authorities in the North West of England. A regional web based system has been developed so that the member agencies can share details of their approved adopters and children waiting more efficiently. Membership of a collaboration such as Adoption 22 is essential for Blackpool, since the town covers a small geographical area and it is rare that it is appropriate to place a Blackpool child within the borough. The Adoption Service also works collaboratively with five other Local Authorities within Adoption22 in order to match children with prospective/adoptive families at an earlier stage of the adoption process. If an appropriate family is not found quickly within the consortium, the search for a family immediately widens to the Adoption Register and no later than three months. Use of appropriate publications and websites will also be included in the family finding process. When an appropriate family is identified and the match approved, joint work continues to be co-ordinated by the Adoption Team. This includes the involvement of the team around the 9

11 child in order to facilitate planning for the placement and the introduction process. This includes the Fostering Service and others who may be involved with the child. Once a child is placed it is the responsibility of the child s Social Worker to support the placement alongside the Social Worker for the adoptive family. If required a place on Safe Base training will be provided for adopters and identified within the adoption support plan. The child s Social Worker will ensure that each child has a life story book, later life letter and contact arrangements in place within the required timescales. Once the Adoption Order has been made Blackpool Council retains responsibility for supporting the placement for the next three years. Post adoption support services for children are provided by the Adoption Team, but also commissioned from a number of sources. The child s journey to permanence and associated performance data is monitored via a monthly panel meeting of Service Managers and the Adoption Team Manager. Independent Reviewing Officers undertake reviews of all 'looked after' children, including children placed for adoption, in accordance with statutory requirements. 10

12 Recruitment and Assessment of Adopters People who are interested in becoming adoptive parents will be welcomed without prejudice, responded to promptly and given clear information about the process within statutory timescales. We welcome enquiries by post, telephone or via the Adoption website. Assessments will be considered within a 50 mile radius or further if felt to be appropriate.. Blackpool Council Adoption Service and Fostering Service currently share a dedicated Recruitment and Marketing Co-ordinator. This post facilitates liaison between the Adoption Service and the Communications Team. This enables the Adoption Service to maximise marketing opportunities to recruit adopters. The recruitment of adopters is a key priority as set out in the recruitment strategy and plan. The Adoption Service recognises the value in attracting applicants from diverse backgrounds. Advertising material and written information is designed to highlight children s needs for safe and secure parenting whilst emphasising that enquiries and applications are encouraged from people from a wide variety of backgrounds. Interpreters and other support services are used if required to assist with communication. The Adoption Service has its own dedicated website which has information on Adoption Services, and associated support services available to adopters, adopted adults and children. It provides an on line call back request form, a request for an information pack and links to other relevant websites. Blackpool Council aims to meet the criteria outlined in the National Adoption Standards and Guidance with regard to the timeliness and assessment of prospective adopters. To avoid delay, a 3 day preparation and training programme for prospective adopters takes place monthly. This is in collaboration two other Local Authorities within the Northwest area. The Adoption Team undertake the assessment and preparation of prospective adoptive families, which includes visiting the home, undertaking a home study, taking up references, undertaking statutory checks, and facilitating preparation groups. 11

13 The Adoption Team provide ongoing support, preparation and training for approved families who are awaiting a placement. Post approval adopters have their own family profile and are invited to various adoption events at which children s profiles will also be featured. The Adoption Team offer advice, guidance and support to adoptive families during the matching process and post placement, this includes workshops and events for adoptive families. Adoption support, including financial support will also from part of an assessment of adopters support needs. Annual provision of a Relatives Training and Preparation Day, for those who are part of family and support networks for adopters going through the various stages of the adoption process. From acceptance of their Registration of Interest, prospective adopters are provided with a one year membership to Adoption UK. Blackpool Council are also members of New Family Social, entitling our adopters to free membership. A Buddy scheme is also in place in relation to mutual support for adopters at any point of their adoption process. 12

14 Post Adoption Services The Adoption Service has a social worker post dedicated to adoption support; this is undertaken by two part time social workers. The Post Adoption Support worker provides a service to adoptive families and birth relatives, and the facilitation of direct and indirect contact arrangements. The management of Adoption Mailbox is overseen by the Adoption Team Administrator. The Agency is responsible for support services to all children placed for three years after the making of the Adoption Order. An annual calendar of adoption support events is available and includes: An Annual Adoption Conference. Adoption support seminars held on a 3-monthly basis. Most meetings consist of both an element of information giving/training and an opportunity for more informal discussion between adoptive parents and social workers. A Family Fun Day is held twice a year and is a great opportunity for the children and young people to play together and for parents to get to know each other. Coffee mornings for families with pre-school children are held at least four times a year, giving families the opportunity to meet informally. An adopter's consultation group has been established for some time and they meet at least twice a year to plan the fun day and engage in support groups. A children/young person s group has recently been formed and the service is listening and instigating their ideas and thoughts. Adoption support newsletters are produced on a six monthly basis outlining support groups and events, also highlighting topics of interest, book reviews and news and training. 13

15 Additional Services Provide a service regarding Inter-country adoption through arrangements with Adoption Matters North West, a Voluntary Adoption Agency. Offer initial counselling and information and advice in relation to non-agency adoptions including Partner/step-parents who wish to adopt their partner s children. This work is undertaken on the council s behalf by Adoption Matters North West. Provide independent adoption support services to those affected by adoption such as counselling for adult adoptees. This is provided through arrangements with After Adoption, a Voluntary Adoption Agency. A referral to After Adoption is made for all birth parents unless they do not want the social worker to do so. Intermediary services for adopted adults and birth relatives (the cost of this service will be met by the service user themselves if a birth relative) Contracts with VASAs (Voluntary Association Support Agencies) are reviewed 6 monthly and statistics provided quarterly to monitor performance, quality of service and ensure value for money. 14

16 The Adoption Panel and Central List The Adoption Panel is constituted in accordance with regulatory requirements. The Panel makes recommendations to the Agency Decision Maker who considers the information and reaches a decision. The Agency Decision Makers are the Head of Children s Social Care and the Principal Social Worker. Following the implementation of the Adoption Agencies (Panel and Consequential Amendments Regulations 2012) the Adoption Panels no longer make recommendations about whether adoption is in the best interests of a child in all cases. The Adoption Panel can still consider cases and make recommendations if there is no requirement for a placement order to be made The role of the Adoption Panel is to make recommendations on: The suitability of prospective adopters The suitability of matches between identified children and approved adopters Whether adoption is in the child s best interests when there is no need for a Placement Order to be made The review of approval of waiting adopters Adoption support arrangements including financial support Where the child s parents are not prepared to consent, where an application for a Placement Order will be made and care proceedings are on-going, or where the child has no parents, the decision must be made by the Agency Decision Maker (ADM). The current Central List of Adoption Panel Members consists of:- An Independent Chair A Vice Chair (& Independent Member) Three Social Workers with at least 3 years relevant experience in child care social work, including direct experience in adoption work. One Service Level Manager The Agency s Medical Adviser 15

17 Three independent members, (all with personal experience of adoption) An Educational Psychologist. At least five panel members with specific roles need to be in attendance in order to enable a panel recommendation to be made. The Agency has a Legal Adviser to the Adoption Panel who attends Panel and provides legal advice but is not a member of the Panel. There is also an Agency Adviser to the Panel (Adoption Team Manager) who is not a Panel Member but should attend Panel meetings as its Adviser. The Adoption Panel Administrator is responsible for taking the minutes of the meetings and undertaking the other administrative aspects of the Panel s work. The Agency provides an annual training day for Panel Members and Adoption Agency staff. Panel members are also offered opportunities to attend other relevant internal and external training events. The Panel is required to keep minutes of its meetings and a written record of any recommendations it makes and the reasons for them. As part of its monitoring function, the Panel quality assures the paperwork presented to Panel and the timeliness of such. The business of the Adoption Panel is reported within a six monthly report which is presented to the Corporate Parenting Panel. 16

18 The Agency Decision The Agency Decision Maker makes a decision within 7 working days of receiving the minutes from the Adoption Panel and within 7 working days of receiving the paperwork in relation to a child who requires a decision they should be placed for adoption. In line with regulations, prospective adopters, birth parents and the child must be notified of the agency decision verbally within 2 days and in writing within 7 working days of the agency decision. 17

19 Evaluation Monitoring of the progress of permanence plans for children requiring adoption is tracked via the Child s Journey to Permanence Panel. This group provides a monitoring mechanism in relation to the timescales and actions taken to identify placements for children approved for Adoption. As a member of a consortium, we are part of a group of agencies who evaluate our practice, share our experiences and work towards change when an unmet need is identified. The Adoption Team actively participate in the recruitment group of Adoption 22 and engage in regional initiatives. A monthly placement meeting has been established with five other Local Authorities in order to match children and families at an earlier stage of the adoption process, thus avoiding delay. The effectiveness of the adoption service is evaluated in various formats and the strengths of Blackpool s pool of adopters are constantly assessed in terms of their ability to meet the needs of the children waiting for placement. In addition; The service users of commissioned services are asked to provide feedback as to the effectiveness of this provision. Adopters involved with the Adoption Service are asked to complete questionnaires on the making of the adoption order, so that they are able to comment on the service received without fear of victimisation. The format and content of the preparation groups for adopters are reviewed annually and evaluation forms completed by those who attend. The latest review took place in April Children s feedback forms are given after they have attended an event, or if they have engaged in a service. A children s/young person s group has now been established. Individuals who attend adoption panel are asked to provide written feedback of their experience. This includes adoptive applicants, visiting Social Workers and Social Workers of the agency, in addition to approved adopters wishing to be matched with Blackpool children. 18

20 Ofsted has also recently provided the opportunity for all involved with the service to provide feedback via their annual questionnaires. The Adoption Service was last inspected by Ofsted, in March The Inspection Team concluded Blackpool s adoption service takes a thorough approach to the recruitment, assessment and approval of adopters. The preparation of prospective adopters is very good and ensures that people are prepared to parent a child who is not born to them and who may have complex needs. The agency received an overall rating of good with outstanding in relation to adoption support. Ofsted reported, The support services provided to adoptive families is of a very high quality. It is delivered in a flexible and timely way to suit the needs of families. The support provided helps to ensure that children live in stable and permanent adoptive homes. 19

21 Comments, Compliments and Complaints Any comments or compliments are welcomed as we are constantly striving to improve services. They are also included in Adopters Initial Enquiry Packs. We also send questionnaires to adoptive families on the making of the adoption Order for their views/comments on our service. We also send questionnaires to all who attend adoption panel. The complaints procedure requires that staff attempt to resolve the issue informally, when appropriate. However, if the complaint is not resolved informally, or if the service user would prefer to have the issue addressed by an independent person they have the option of contacting the Customer Care Team. A copy of the complaints procedure is also available on request. The Customer Care Team can be contacted by: By writing to the Customer Care Manager, Progress House, Clifton Road, Blackpool FY4 4US Telephoning (01253) ing If any help or support is required when making a complaint, it may be possible to access support from an advocate who is independent from the Council. The Blackpool Advocacy Service can be contacted on (01253) , or Myriad House, 6A Skyways, Amy Johnson Way, Blackpool FY4 2RP. 20

22 Contact Details for the Registration Authority: Ofsted The responsibility for the regulation and inspection of the Local Authority Adoption Services in England lies with Ofsted. The new Ofsted brings together the experience of the four former inspectorates. They aim to inspect and regulate to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people. Ofsted can be contacted at the address and telephone number below: Ofsted Piccadilly Gate Store Street Manchester M1 2WD Telephone: The helpline for children s services is open from 8.00am to 6.45pm, Monday to Friday Prefix for Typetalk For text messages (Please note that in instances where they are unable to send a full reply by text message - for example, if the reply will be very long - they will send a text message offering to telephone you to discuss your query) For textphone/minicom users The telephone number for complaints or any concerns about services regulated & inspected by Ofsted is (8am to 6pm) Their hotline for whistle blowing is (Monday to Friday from 8.00am to 6.00pm). - Website: You can contact Ofsted by - 21

23 The Structure of the Adoption Service Sue Harrison Director of Children s Services Dominic Tumelty Head of Children s Social Care Martin Birch Service Manager Looked After Children s Services Permanence Champion Residential Children s Homes LAC Under 12 Team Carol Nowell Adoption Team Manager Fostering Team LAC Over 12 Team Judith Tranmer Adoption Support SW (Part-Time) Leona Hurley Social Worker Ann Hearne Advanced Practitioner Gareth Twose Social Worker Tracie Maxwell Adoption Support SW (Temp Full Time) Prith Shori Social Worker Deepti Walia Social Worker Samantha Cunningham Social Worker Part Time 22

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