Every prospective adopter will be allocated a ‘key
worker’ to support them through the adoption process, under
draft regulations unveiled by the government, writes
Local authorities will be given responsibility for appointing
the key worker when prospective adopters are matched with a child;
a child has been placed with a parent while awaiting an adoption
order; or an adoption support plan has been set.
While councils can arrange for adoption support services to be
provided by other organisations they must still arrange for a key
worker to be appointed.
The proposal is included in the first phase of regulations to
come out of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, which was
given royal assent six weeks ago. Consultation is to take place
until February before a final version of the regulations is to be
drawn up and implemented in April.
The draft regulations say key workers will “act as the first
port of call to the family, encouraging them to access relevant
support services, including tax and benefit assistance”.
While the regulations acknowledge many authorities will already
have adoption professionals fulfilling the key worker role, it aims
to make practice more consistent nationally.
The draft regulations also require local authorities to provide
counselling, information and advice services for existing and
prospective adopters and establish support plans for prospective
adopters setting out objectives, key services, and a timescale for
delivery. Service users will be consulted on development of the
Councils must make arrangements for adoptive parents and adopted
children support groups are to be set up to offer therapeutic
services to them. The financial support system is to be modernised
and extra assistance is to be introduced to facilitate contact
between adopted children and birth relatives.
In October, the government announced it would ring-fence
£70 million of council funding over the next three years to
pay for the new requirements.
‘Draft Adoption Support Services Regulations