Issue - meetings
Meeting: 13/06/2013 - Cabinet (Item 10)
Councillor Tony Smith introduced a report by the Director of Children’s Services that detailed how the Council proposed to improve the recruitment and assessment of adopters and reduce adoption delay in Wirral. using the government Adoption Reform Grant for 2013/14.
The Adoption Reform Grant for 2013/14 was in two parts:
- Part A was non-ring fenced and was not time-limited. Members noted that the purpose of this grant was to provide support to local authorities towards expenditure lawfully incurred or to be lawfully incurred by them.
- Part B was ring-fenced to addressing recruitment of adopters and had to be spent by 31 March 2014. The Council was required to spend this one-off grant on adoption services. Members noted that a condition of the grant was that local authorities were required to write to the Department of Education providing details of what the grant was spent on and its consequent impact.
The Director proposed that Wirral’s allocation of the ring-fenced grant was contributed to a regional collaborative recruitment initiative as well as updating local recruitment material and processes. In addition, she proposed to provide additional social work staff, on a fixed term basis, to undertake the assessments of the increased number of potential adopters that result from the recruitment campaign, a family finding social worker and an adoption process development officer to embed the delivery of new processes and systems.
In order to promote a cultural change in social work practice so that plans for permanency, including adoption were initiated at the earliest opportunity when a child came into the care of the local authority, the Director proposed that Wirral’s allocation of the funds provided by Part A of the Adoption Reform Grant, £520,452, were used to procure additional resources to develop social work skills. She proposed to provide additional time-limited social work capacity to develop concurrent planning and fostering for adoption, reviewing all permanency plans for current children in care and additional assessment capacity in the adoption team.
In addition to the reform grant the report proposed equalisation of inter-agency and inter-authority fees. In Wirral this meant increasing inter-authority fees to £27,000 which was approximately twice the amount currently paid. This was in line with the recommendation from SOLACE, ADCS and the LGA in order to promote adoption nationally to being a more realistic cost for the recruitment and assessment of adopters. This also cited one of the Government’s priorities within the grant guidance.
(1) the proposals as detailed in the report to develop adoption recruitment and family finding to be funded from the Department for Education Adoption Reform Grant 2013/14 Part B be agreed;
(2) the proposals as detailed in the report to improve social work practice in securing permanence for looked after children to be funded from the Department for Education Adoption Reform Grant 2013/14 part A be agreed; and
(3) the inter-agency adoption fee charged to other agencies be increased to the national recommendation of £27,000.