2 2 Adoption Service Statement of Purpose Contents Introduction...3 Acts...3 Statutory Instruments...4 Government Guidance...5 Standards...5 Strategic Aims...6 Aims of the Adoption Service...6 Objectives of the Adoption Service...7 Principles...8 Information on Service Users...9 The Organisational Structure of the Service...9 The Work of the Adoption Team...12 The Service to Prospective Adopters...13 Adoption Support...15 Support...15 Post Placement...16 Performance Management...17 Quality Assurance...18 Professional Advisers...18 The Adoption Panel...19 Children s Plan for Adoption - Quality Assurance and Agency Decision Maker Process...20 Systems for Monitoring and Evaluating Service Provision...21 Complaints...22
3 Adoption Service Statement of Purpose 3 Introduction Leicestershire County Council, through the power delegated to the Director of Children and Family Services, undertakes to provide a comprehensive Adoption Service for both Leicestershire County Council and Rutland County Council. This Statement of Purpose has been prepared in accordance with the requirements of the Local Authority Adoption Service (England) Regulations 2003, and fulfils the agency s duties and responsibilities as set out in Standard 18 of the National Minimum Standards for Adoption It seeks to operate within the legislative requirements of the following acts: The Adoption and Children Act 2002 The Children and Adoption Act 2006 The Children Act 1989 The Care Standards Act 2000 The Children Act 2004 The Children Act 2008 The Mental Capacity Act 2005 The Human Rights Act 1998 Data Protection Act 1998 Freedom of Information Act
4 4 Adoption Service Statement of Purpose Statutory instruments: The Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005 The Adoption Support Services Regulations 2005 The Suitability of Adopters Regulations 2005 The Restriction on the Preparation of Adoption Reports Regulations 2005 The Independent Review of Determination (Adoption) Regulations 2005 The Adoption Agencies and Independent Review of Determinations (Amendment) Regulations 2011 The Local Authority (Adoption) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2005 The Family Procedure (Adoption) Rules 2005 The Adopted Children and Adoption Contact Registers Regulations 2005 The Adoption Information and Intermediary Services (Pre-Commencement Adoptions) Regulations 2005 The Disclosure of Adoption Information (Post Commencement Adoptions) Regulations 2005 The Adoption and Children (miscellaneous amendments) Regulations 2005 The Voluntary Adoption Agencies and the Adoption Agencies (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2003 The Adoptions with a Foreign Element Regulations 2005 The Adoption (Bringing Child(ren) into the United Kingdom) Regulations 2003 The Registration of Foreign Adoptions Regulations 2003 The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 The Inter-country Adoption (Hague Convention) Regulations 2003 National Care Standards Commission Regulations 2003 England The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
5 Adoption Service Statement of Purpose 5 Government guidance Adoption Guidance 2011 IRO Handbook: Statutory Guidance 2011 Statutory Guidance on Adoption July 2013 Practice Guidance on Assessing the Support Needs of Adoptive Families (2008) Practice Guidance on Adoption: Access to Information and Intermediary Services Working Together to Safeguard Children (and associated child protection guidance) The Children Act 1989: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review and Fostering Regulations 2013 Family Procedure (Adoption) Rules The Adoption Agencies Miscellaneous Amendments Regulations 2013 Standards Adoption National Minimum Standards 2011 This Statement of Purpose sets out the broad aims and objectives of the service, the management structures, the services provided, the principles and standards of care that are expected, the procedures for recruiting, approving, training, and supporting adoptive families, and the procedures for complaints. A copy of this will be provided to Ofsted and be available to:- All staff working for the adoption agency Adopters Any child placed for adoption Any parent of a child placed in an adoptive placement Other adoption agencies Adoption Panel members The Statement of Purpose will be reviewed annually. The address of the Local Authority which approves the statement of purpose and function is as follows: Leicestershire County Council Children and Family Services County Hall Glenfield Leicester LE3 8SA
6 6 Adoption Service Statement of Purpose Strategic aims The Adoption Service operates within Leicestershire County Council s Children and Family Service agreed policies and procedures. The aims and objectives of the service are underpinned by the Council s corporate values and, together with all partner agencies, it works towards improving outcomes and life chances for every child affected by adoption Our Adoption Service is working within the developing national agenda for recruitment and placing children in a timely manner. Aims of the Adoption Service To ensure that the needs, wishes, welfare and safety of the child are at the centre of the adoption process. To ensure that where it is not possible for looked after children to be reunited with their birth families they are provided with a permanent, stable, family. One way of achieving this is through adoption. To identify the needs of Looked After Children waiting for adoption and to actively recruit adopters to meet these needs, including those for sibling groups, disabled children and children with complex emotional/behavioural problems or special needs, irrespective of ethnic or cultural background. To ensure that people who are interested in becoming adoptive parents are welcomed without prejudice, responded to promptly and given clear information about recruitment, assessment, approval and support services. To actively prevent delays for looked after children being placed for adoption. To welcome applications from people wishing to be assessed as prospective adopters regardless of marital status, ethnicity, disability, religion, gender or sexual orientation. To ensure that birth families are treated fairly, openly and with respect throughout the adoption process and have access to adoption support services. To provide an advice service on adoption and permanency issues to other professionals within the department and within other networks. To ensure that placements will reflect the child s ethnic origin, cultural background, religion and language, unless this is not possible within a realistic timescale for the child. In these cases, the reasons why will be explained to the child having regard to his or her age and understanding, and adopters will be given guidance to ensure the child s heritage and identity is supported. To provide an Access to Records Service and Birth Records Counselling
7 Adoption Service Statement of Purpose 7 Objectives of the Adoption Service To ensure that a Permanence Plan is in place as appropriate for every looked after child and adoption is considered, where appropriate as an option for every child who is unable to live with their birth family. To increase the number of children adopted from care, in line with government targets. To offer information to, prepare and timely assess a sufficient pool of prospective adopters of varied backgrounds and with a range of personal qualities, experience and skills, to best meet the assessed needs of children needing adoptive families. To ensure that each child and prospective adoptive family are prepared for adoption and that a suitable period of introductions is formalised in each individual case, ensuring that the settling period is fully supported to afford positive outcome. To develop a range of adoption support services, including practical, financial and therapeutic services, in partnership with other relevant agencies. To ensure that adopted children, adults and their families have access to counselling, support and advice in accordance with legislation. To ensure that the adoption agency employs staff with appropriate and sufficient skills, knowledge and experience to deliver the adoption service. To offer an advisory and consultative service on adoption and permanence issues to other professionals within Children s Services. To ensure that applicants for inter-county adoption are provided with an appropriate service from skilled and experienced workers.
8 8 Adoption Service Statement of Purpose Principles The child s welfare is paramount in all decisions about their future. The child s wishes and feelings should be taken into account according to their age and understanding. They are supported to understand why it may not be possible to act upon their wishes in all cases, and know how to obtain support and make a complaint. Children and young people should not be in public care throughout their childhood. The child s welfare, safety and needs are at the centre of the adoption process. Adopted children should have opportunity to experience an enjoyable childhood, benefiting from quality parenting and education enabling them to develop their talents and skills in order that they reach their full potential into adult life. Every child is entitled to a permanent family throughout their childhood and a sense of identity is important to a child s well being. Their ethnic origin, cultural background, religion, language and sexuality need to be properly recognised and positively valued and promoted within their adoptive family. A child s birth heritage, religious, cultural and linguistic backgrounds are all important factors to consider in finding a new family. The adoptive family should reflect this, if this can be found without unnecessary delay. No child should be denied loving adoptive parents solely on the grounds that the child and parents do not share the same racial or cultural background. The Local Authority will work in partnership with birth families to ensure that effective plans are made and implemented for their child. Every effort will be made to find adoptive homes where brothers and sisters can live together, unless this will not meet their individually assessed needs. Drift is not acceptable. In some cases delay may be unavoidable but should be accounted for within clear evidence based case records. Every child is entitled to information about their birth family in order to promote their sense of identity. There will be arrangements for ongoing contact, direct or indirect, between the child and birth family or significant persons, where this is in the best interests of the child. The Local Authority will work in partnership with other agencies to ensure that the needs of all parties in the adoption process are met. Everyone involved in the adoption process will have access to the department s complaints procedure.
9 Adoption Service Statement of Purpose 9 Information on service users Leicestershire and Rutland s County Council s Adoption Services are provided to: Children who are in need of family finding for an adoption or long term fostering placement Birth parents Prospective and approved adopters Children and adoptive parents who require adoption support services Adopted adults and members of their birth families. The organisational structure of the service The Adoption Service is part of Leicestershire County Council s Children and Family Services. The structure of the service and how it relates to the business group is shown on Appendix 1 The Organisational Structure chart. The Head of Strategy has overall responsibility for the Adoption Service and fulfils the role of the Agency Decision Maker and responsible individual: Kerrie Scraton, Head of Strategy, based at: County Hall, Glenfield, Leicester, LE3 8RA Kerrie qualified as a Social Worker in July 1994 and has worked in Children s Social Work since that date. She has placed children for adoption, worked as a Team Manager from 2001, and then as a Service Manager covering Locality Social Work Teams. She has previously sat on an Adoption Panel as Children s Social Work Advisor. Kerrie has been a Head of Service in Leicestershire since 2009 and led on fostering and adoption placements since May The Service Manager for the Adoption Service is responsible for the strategic management of the Adoption Service:
10 10 Adoption Service Statement of Purpose Andrew Logie, Service Manager, based at: County Hall, Glenfield, Leicester, LE3 8RA Andrew has worked in Children s Social Care for over 10 years and has a BSc (Hons) degree in Social Work. He qualified as a Social Worker in Initially, he practised in youth justice, moving later to a front line child protection role. He spent two-and-a-half years managing a locality assessment team in Leicestershire and often placed vulnerable children into Local Authority care. He became the Service Manager and Strategic Lead for Fostering and Adoption in Sue West Team Manager, Adoption Sue West qualified as a social worker in 1988 (CQSW and MA from Leicester University). Following three years working in a generic social work team, she moved to family placements and worked in fostering in both Leicestershire and then Leicester City Councils. She worked for seven years as the senior practitioner within the Kinship team in Leicester City Council, prior to moving to a post in the adoption team in Leicestershire in Sue has experience in all aspects of adoption such as adoption assets training for adopters post adoption support, birth records council, she also has a specific role in quality assurance.
11 Adoption Service Statement of Purpose 11 Caroline Kibble Team Manager, Adoption Caroline Kibble commenced her career in social work in 1975 as a residential social worker, preparing children to be reunited with siblings and to live in new permanent families. In 1983, Caroline moved to Staffordshire County Council where she worked in children and family teams and child protection. Caroline has 15 years experience as a Children s Services Manager for the NSPCC, setting up and managing Children s Rights and Advocacy Services for Local Authorities in the Midlands region, until taking redundancy in Caroline has experience as an independent investigator of complaints made against Council s, a Senior Care Reviewer Sub Group member and of reviewing young people placed in secure accommodation. Caroline is an Independent Member of another Local Authority s foster panel and adoption panel. Caroline s post in the team is temporary until July The service also has a senior practitioner and a team of social workers. All social work staff are professionally qualified and registered with the Health and Care Professions Council and have varying experience in adoption. Refer to the Team Structure, appendix one.
12 12 Adoption Service Statement of Purpose The work of the adoption team The Adoption service is based at: Room 600 County Hall Glenfield Leicester, LE3 8SA This service undertakes the following tasks: Recruitment of prospective adoptive families, including running publicity campaigns and holding regular open evenings. The assessment and preparation of prospective adoptive families, which includes visiting the home, undertaking a home study, taking up references, undertaking statutory checks, and running preparation groups. Family finding for children who need a permanent home. Support for approved families who are awaiting a placement. Advice, guidance and support to adoptive families during the matching process and post placement. This includes workshops and events for adoptive families. Those wishing to adopt a child from overseas are referred to Yorkshire Adoption Agency which provide this service under a contract with Leicestershire County Council. Childcare Social Workers and Adoption Social Workers undertake the task of planning for permanence and preparing children for adoption. Childcare Social Workers work alongside the Adoption Social Workers, with the child s birth parents, during the decision making process for adoption, until the local authority obtains consent to placement. The Adoption Social Worker then has responsibility for family finding, matching, supporting adoptive placements and for contact arrangements until the Adoption Order is made, and for three years afterwards where necessary. The Adoption letterbox service and direct contact is managed in the Adoption Team to enable adopted children to maintain contact with their birth families. A counselling service for adopted adults who wish to find out about their birth parents and details about their adoption is provided by the Adoption Team. This does not include acting as an intermediary service for those people who wish to trace birth relatives, as Leicestershire County Council has not registered to provide this service. However, we are able to offer advice regarding other agencies who offer this service. Adopted people aged 18 or over can apply for access to and a copy of their birth certificate. The adoption team can provide counselling to the individual wishing to trace a relative and
13 Adoption Service Statement of Purpose 13 assist with tracing the adoption file. The amount in the file can vary considerably but has to be carefully considered in terms of sharing the contents with an adopted person. This aspect of Birth Records Counselling (BRC) work is provided on a statutory basis. Support services to adoptive families are provided by the Adoption Team, including an assessment of need for post adoption support services. Support and counselling to birth parents is offered during the decision making/pre adoption order phase and post adoption order being grantedby Leicestershire and Rutland s County Council Adoption service. This support is independent of the child s social worker. Financial support is provided to adoptive families in accordance with the Adoption Support Services (Local Authorities) (England) Regulations This includes single sums and where necessary, regular payments. Children and adopters are actively referred to the National Adoption Register and the East Midlands Adoption Consortium, if it has not been possible to find a local or a regional placement. National advertising is used when necessary to identify a suitable placement. The service to prospective adopters The process for recruiting, preparing, assessing, approving and supporting prospective adopters is set out in detail in our Adoption Agency Procedures. The assessment changed to a two-stage process in July The aim of this process is to enable prospective adopters to learn about adoption within the first stage and then move through the assessment and approval process in the second stage. The whole approval process, from the point of formal application, should take no more than six months in total. There is also a fast-track process for some previous adopters and approved foster carers. Enquirers may be offered an opportunity to attend our open evenings this is an informal opportunity to gather more information on adoption, meet other prospective adopters, hear from experienced adopters, and to have an initial discussion with adoption social workers. Potential adopters may at any time express an interest in being assessed as an adopter either from direct contact with the Adoption Service or via the website. Leicestershire and
14 14 Adoption Service Statement of Purpose Rutland County Council s Adoption Service will provide information regarding adoption to the applicant and gather some information from the potential applicant with regard to the key criteria that is required to become an adopter. Following this a Registration of Interest form can be submitted (ROI). Once a ROI form has been submitted, Leicestershire and Rutland County Council s Adoption Service will let applicants know within five working days whether it can accept it. When the ROI is accepted, applicants then move onto stage one of the assessment process. Stage one of the assessment process is led by the applicant and should take no more than two months to complete. Applicants have the opportunity to learn as much about the adoption process as possible by attending training events, e-learning and reading material about adoption. The Adoption Agency will make enquiries, including DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) and medical checks/examination undertaken by a GP. Personal references may be taken up and checks with the Local Authorities that the applicants have lived in are undertaken. At the end of stage one, a decision will be made whether to progress the application to further assessment in stage two. Stage two should take around four months and will involve a detailed assessment following the BAAF guidance for Prospective Adopters Report, (PAR). This will include meeting referees and attending some further training. Once complete, along with all the checks, the assessment and its outcome is shared with the applicants before consideration by the Adoption Panel. Following attendance at the panel, a recommendation will be made to the Agency Decision Maker. The Agency Decision will consider all the information and make the approval of the applicants as prospective adopters.
15 Adoption Service Statement of Purpose 15 Adoption support Bridget Puddepha is the agency s appointed Adoption Support Services Advisor (ASSA). In this role she ensures that the service provides: advice and information to people affected by adoption advice and assistance to other staff in the authority on assessments of need for adoption support services, the availability of services locally and effective planning for service delivery advice and information to other Local Authorities as appropriate, for example, liaising between Local Authorities where a family is moving between areas to ensure a smooth transition Adoption support assessment requests should be made to the council s First Response Team unless they are placements made by the Adoption Agency of Leicestershire and Rutland, and are less than three years old. Support During the assessment and matching process, an assessment will be carried out regarding the support required by the adoptive family, in order to care for the child and ensure the placement is successful. Any services that are identified in the assessment as necessary will be provided by the Adoption Support Service. These could include: Advice, information and counselling to adoptive parents, or referral to more specialist resources. Training for adopters and professionals, including regular training run by a clinical psychologist on attachment issues and resolutions. Targeted advice/consultation on attachment issues and therapeutic parenting techniques to adopters Therapeutic services for the child Mediation around contact issues through the post box scheme that enables birth families and adopted children to exchange letters and birthday cards. The service is confidential and is normally agreed and set up as part of the adoption planning for the child. Direct contact between the adopted child and their birth family where this has been agreed and deemed in the child s best interests, including supervised contact.
16 16 Adoption Service Statement of Purpose Post placement Once a child has been placed for adoption, the agency has a duty to monitor and review the placement until such time as an adoption order is granted. The Social Worker responsible for the child and the adoption social worker will coordinate visits to the family and review meetings will be held and chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer, to monitor progress. Adoption Support Plans and services are reviewed at this meeting but after the adoption order such services continue to be reviewed annually. The team organises activity days and regular support events for adoptive families that gives them an opportunity to meet other adoptive families, and can also help them in accessing support. Adoptive families can access training through the team such as: One-off life story sessions for adopters Training on attachment issues for children in school and strategies to address these. Adoptive families have the right to request an assessment for adoption support services at any time following the making of an adoption order. Where they consider they need to have support services, they can contact the adoption support services advisor for information and advice on the types of services available and the assessment process. Contact details for the First Response Team are: First Response Team Room 100B County Hall Glenfield Leicester, LE3 8RA For the first three years after an adoption order has been made please contact: Tel: For three years post adoption order being made please contact: Tel:
17 Adoption Service Statement of Purpose 17 Performance management The agency monitors its performance and provides reports to the executive team (Departmental Management Team) every six months about children who are in the care of their Local Authority and who are waiting to be placed with new families. (National Minimum Standards 25.6.) These reports include: the number, type and age of the children waiting for an adoptive placement and the length of time they have been waiting; the agency s performance against the timescales set out in the Adoption National Minimum Standards 2011 Progress in the Recruitment of Suitable Adoptive Families; the number of children placed for adoption and adopted since the last report; diligent budget forecasting, management and monitoring in line with legislation. the number of children whose placement has disrupted or where there has been a change of plan and the child is no longer to be placed for adoption. the development plan for the service is reviewed regularly by the Service Manager for the Adoption Service and the Head of Strategy.
18 18 Adoption Service Statement of Purpose Quality assurance The quality of the Adoption Service s work and standards are regularly monitored against the National Minimum Standards The managers of the Service ensure that the staff group is appropriately skilled, trained and supervised on a regular basis to ensure all employees can undertake the functions of their work. Professional advisors Specialist advisors to the Adoption Service include: Legal advisor - a Leicestershire County Council Childcare Solicitor, although the service also makes effective use of the BAAF advice phone line. Medical advisor - carries out medical assessments of children and reviews medical reports on prospective adopters, providing written advice to the Local Authority in every case. The medical advisers are also members of the Leicestershire and Rutland County Adoption Panel. There is also an appointed permanent panel advisor who attends some panels and manages the compliance and effectiveness of the panel process. Panel advice is also offered by the team manager on a regular basis.
19 Adoption Service Statement of Purpose 19 The Adoption Panel Leicestershire and Rutland County Councils Adoption Panel currently meets every four weeks to make recommendations to the Head of Strategy in respect of all matters concerning adoption, in line with the Adoption Agencies (Panel and Consequential Amendments) Regulations Additional panels are convened as necessary. The composition of the panel is in line with the Adoption Agencies Regulations 2011 and includes independent members as well as council officers. There is a new Adoption Panel set up in Autumn The current chair of the panel is an independent person with significant experience of chairing both adoption and fostering panels. A recruitment process is on-going to recruit a permanent adoption panel chair. The new full panels will be running by March There is an established interim central list for membership of Adoption Panel with a permanent recruitment process likely to be completed by March Panel recommendations are conveyed orally to all those involved within 24 hours. The Agency decision maker makes a decision within seven working days of the Adoption Panel s recommendations. Decisions are conveyed orally to all those involved within two working days and confirmed in writing within seven. Applicants or birth parents will have 28 days to raise any objections to the Agency Decision Maker. All correspondence will be acknowledged within three working days and answered formally within 14. Approved adopters who have not had a child placed within one year will be reviewed annually. The Independent Panel Chair and all members of the central list will be annually appraised. There will be at least one annual panel training event where panel members can be trained alongside the adoption team.
20 20 Adoption Service Statement of Purpose Children s plan for adoption - quality assurance and agency decision maker process In accordance with the Adoption Agencies (Panel and Consequential Amendments) Regulations 2012, a child s plan for recommendation for adoption is no longer presented to the Adoption Panel if the planning is being made as part of a court process. Once the decision that the care plan for child/ren is adoption, all informtion and evidence around this is presented to the agency decision maker for their consideration. This will be presented to the agency decision maker within 2 months of the decision being made and prior to the care plan being submitted to court. The Child Care Social Worker, with support from the allocated Adoption Social Worker, should ensure an adoption medical is progressed and that the expected paperwork including the Child Permanence Report (CPR) are completed. The Adoption Team Manager quality assures the child s CPR, medical information and any additional paperwork prior to meeting with the agency decision maker for decisions. Dates are planned for the agency decision maker and the Adoption Agency Panel advisor to meet after each panel, with the option of meeting the social worker and taking advice from the legal and medical advisors for Leicestershire County Council, where appropriate.
21 Adoption Service Statement of Purpose 21 Systems for monitoring and evaluating service provision Adoption Team staff receive regular supervision and annual appraisals of their performance. Training needs are identified and are met either through in-house training or through the use of training provided by the British Association of Adoption and Fostering (BAAF). At least every six months a report on adoption activity is written, including statistical information, and is presented to the agency s decision maker and the Adoption Panel. The Adoption Panel receives regular reports provided on approved prospective adopters and their progress in terms of potential links. There is an annual training day for the Adoption Panel, sometimes facilitated by BAAF, and sometimes with members from the Adoption Team which helps to ensure Panel members are kept up-to-date with current issues. Adoption Panel members also have an annual appraisal. The Adoption Panel reports back to the agency decision maker on any cases involving poor practice, so that these can be taken up through the line management system. Opportunities to publicise the Adoption Service are taken to raise awareness of and the sorts of support that adoptive families can expect to receive in order to help them with this challenging task. A Management Information System and the Government score card are in place, which ensures reporting of accurate information about adoption.
22 22 Adoption Service Statement of Purpose Complaints Adopters, children and families can use Leicestershire County Council s complaints procedure where they have a dissatisfaction or concern with the service provided. Adopters may complain on behalf of a child as well as on their own account. Details of Leicestershire County Council s complaints procedure and how to access it are given to prospective adopters as part of the information pack given at point of enquiry. Leicestershire County Council s website clearly outlines the guidance for anyone who wishes to complain Leicestershire County Council s Children s Guide to Adoption and Adoption Support will provide details for children of: The national telephone help line, Talk Adoption, from After Adoption The Leicestershire County Council complaints procedure Children s Rights services The child s right to make representations and complaints. Applicants for adoption who are turned down by the Adoption Panel and / or the Agency Decision Maker are able to ask for their case to be reviewed by the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM), details of which are provided to prospective adopters. Representation to the IRM can only take place during stage two of the assessment process. Ofsted is the registration authority and is responsible for monitoring, regulating and inspecting Adoption Services. Contact details: Ofsted Piccadilly Gate Store Street Manchester M1 2WD Tel: Website:
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