Confusion over new rules could lead to crisis in adoption support

Many independent social workers in England could leave adoption support work if the government and inspectors do not end confusion over regulations.

The warning comes from the British Association of Social Workers, which has not received an answer from the Department for Education and Skills to concerns it raised two months ago about the Adoption Support Services Regulations 2005.

These require organisations and individuals offering adoption support services to register with the Commission for Social Care Inspection. But independent social workers providing adoption support services, including assessments, say the DfES and CSCI have been providing conflicting advice on registration.

In a letter to the DfES, Helen Ogilvy, chair of BASW’s independents’ forum, stated that the government had told social workers that the regulations exclude adoption assessments, but did apply to other adoption support tasks.

But she said CSCI staff had advised that all independent social workers in the field would have to register as small adoption support agencies, regardless of the category of their work and the fact they were already registered with the General Social Care Council.

Ogilvy told Community Care last week that the confusion meant many independent social workers would be unwilling to take on adoption support work because they would not want to put themselves in a position where they might breach regulations.

The regulations have also angered the British Psychological Society, which said it was not consulted by the DfES before they were introduced.

A CSCI spokesperson said it had received a “very large number of enquiries from individuals and organisations asking for clarification about the legislation”.

She added: “As far as CSCI is aware we have been giving advice which has been consistent to the individual’s circumstances and the legislation.”

David Holmes, chief executive of Baaf Adoption and Fostering, called on the government to end the confusion as soon as possible.

A spokesperson for the DfES said the department had consulted widely and held several events to discuss and develop the regulations before they were introduced.


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