Local authorities could be hit with a huge bill for providing
post-adoption support services when the Adoption and Children Act
2002 comes into force in October.
At a joint Baaf Adoption and Fostering and Local Government
Association conference on the implications of the act last week,
councils were warned that the £70m the government has set
aside to pay for adoption support services over the next three
years would not go very far.
“It is insufficient for the aspirations of the act, so we need to
raise the issue with the government,” said Penny Thompson,
Sheffield social services director and joint chairperson of the
Association of Directors of Social Services children and families
Thompson said it was a crucial issue, but one that was difficult to
quantify because the draft part of the act in which it was included
lacked detail. The draft regulations for adoption support services
set out plans for an overhaul of the financial support system to
give adopters more assistance with the costs of adopting a child.
But it was not yet known what this would mean in terms of who
exactly was eligible and the amount and nature of support required,
She added that it was feasible that parents of all adoptive
children under 18 could be eligible for support payments. However,
Sheffield was initially concentrating on the needs of those who had
adopted during the past five years. “Most of us have been saying
for some time that this is coming. Local authorities are going to
have to do some estimating of how many people might be eligible,”
Linda Davies, a family and adoption judge from Portsmouth, said
implementing the act would work only if the government allocated
enough resources. “Once the £70m has been divided up between
the 110 adoption agencies in England, and if, for example, it is to
pay for improving accommodation for sibling groups, we don’t need
to do the sums to figure out it won’t go very far,” she said.
– View draft regulations at www.doh.gov.uk/adoption/law.htm#consult