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Agenda item

Adoption Service - Annual Report 2020/21

Report of the Director of Children and Families

Minutes:

6.1

The Committee received a report of the Director of Children and Families containing the Adoption Service - Annual Report 2020/21.

 

 

6.2

In attendance for this item were Carley Speechley (Director of Children and Families) and Paul Dempsey (Assistant Director - Provider Services).

 

 

6.3

Paul Dempsey introduced the report, which contained information on adoption activity with regard to children and adopters, adoption timeliness, adoption support, the business of the Adoption Panel, an update on the Regional Adoption Agency, other developments during the year and priority actions for 2021/22.  Also attached was the One Adoption South Yorkshire - Six Month Report, January to June 2021.

 

 

6.4

Members of the Committee raised questions, and the following responses were provided:-

 

 

 

·            It was acknowledged that it was not suitable for all children to be adopted. The Authority wanted to maintain family relationships for many children that came into care, and many such children  did return to their families, either to their parents or other relatives.  For some children, particularly older children, it was more suitable for them to be in a foster placement, although every effort would be made to maintain a relationship with their birth parents.  It was not always possible to find adopters for some children, due to a lack of suitable adopters, but efforts were made to increase recruitment for this reason.  It was particularly difficult to find adopters for children of different ethnicities, children over five or children in sibling groups. The Authority had had a good record in securing permanent outcomes for children outside of care, on different Orders, such as Special Guardianship Orders or Child Arrangement Orders.

 

 

 

·            Special consideration was given, which included advice from One Adoption, to ensure that the images used by the Authority in terms of its recruitment of adopters, were representative of the people it was trying to attract.  One Adoption would be looking to identify specific networks in different communities, and build-up relationships with such communities.  This approach had been successful in improving recruitment in other local authority areas. The Authority had worked closely with mosques and churches in this regard.

 

 

 

·            The Authority provided financial allowances to special guardians, and this was payable until the child reached 18, or up to the end of the academic year if they were still in school.  There was a Special Guardianship Support Service, which offered ongoing support to special guardians, and there was also a support group where special guardians could meet up with professionals and obtain peer support.  The Authority was also legally required to undertake a Special Guardianship Support Assessment.  The Authority also offered guidance and advice, through the Leaving Care Service, and those young people who were subject to Special Guardianship Orders would qualify for additional services.  Such services included the Staying Put programme, where children in care, who had reached 18, and had remained with the same carer after turning 18, were offered financial allowances until they reached 21.

 

 

 

·            Officers had not met with the Family Rights Group for some time, but had continued to receive their newsletters, which had enabled the Authority to see what the group was offering nationally, as well as any campaigns the group was organising.

 

 

 

·            The Authority provided short break care for some children in adoptive families, as part of a package of support, with 10 families having been provided with such support during 2020/21.

 

 

6.5

RESOLVED: That the Committee:-

 

 

 

(a)      notes the contents of the report now submitted, together with the information now reported and the responses to the questions raised;

 

 

 

(b)      thanks Paul Dempsey and Carly Speechley for attending the meeting and responding to the questions raised and expresses its thanks and appreciation to all staff in the Adoption Service for the excellent work undertaken by them during 2020/21; and

 

 

 

(c)      requests the Director of Children and Families to produce a paper setting out all the different options with regard to securing permanence in a family setting outside of care for children and young people, for submission to a future meeting of the Committee.

 

 

Supporting documents: