Every prospective adoptive parent will be allocated a “key worker”
to support them through the adoption process under draft
regulations unveiled by the government before Christmas.
Local authorities will be given responsibility for appointing a key
worker when potential adopters are matched with a child, when a
child has been placed with a parent while awaiting an adoption
order, or when 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 measure is included in the first phase of regulations to come
out of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, which received Royal
Assent six weeks ago. Consultation is to take place until February,
with the final regulations implemented by April.
The draft regulations state that 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 many authorities already have adoption professionals
fulfilling the key worker role, the regulations aim to make
practice across the country more consistent.
The draft regulations also require local authorities to provide
counselling, information and advice services for existing and
prospective adopters, and to establish support plans for
prospective adopters setting out objectives, key services, a
timescale for delivery and who will do what. Service users will be
consulted on the development of the plan.
Councils must make arrangements to set up support groups for
adoptive parents and adopted children and offer therapeutic
services. The financial support system will also be modernised and
give extra assistance for facilitating contact between adopted
children and birth relatives.
In October the government announced it will ring-fence £70m of
council funding over the next three years to pay for the
– The Draft Adoption Support Services Regulations 2003