The government has moved to avert a possible crisis in adoption support services by agreeing to amend regulations on the registration of self-employed social workers operating in the sector.
Junior children’s minister Parmjit Dhanda has made the commitment after lobbying from the British Association of Social Workers’ independents’ forum.
It warned earlier this year that confusion over the Adoption Support Services Regulations 2005 could cause experienced independent social workers, who are very active in adoption support work, to leave the field.
In a letter to Labour MP Gwyneth Dunwoody, who had intervened on behalf of BASW independents’ forum chair Helen Ogilvy, Dhanda said self-employed professionals providing adoption support services only on behalf of other organisations
would not have to register with the Commission for Social Care Inspection.
Instead, he said agencies or authorities contracting these practitioners would be responsible for ensuring that anyone they employed was “fit and proper”.
However, self-employed practitioners directly providing adoption support services as defined in the Adoption and Children Act 2002 must register as small adoption support agencies.
Dhanda said the government would amend the regulations to “put the question beyond doubt”.
BASW wrote to the government in March after independent social workers said they were receiving conflicting advice from the
Department for Education and Skills and the CSCI.
The DfES had told social workers that the regulations excluded adoption assessments but did apply to other adoption support tasks.
However, CSCI had said all independent social workers in the field would have to register as small adoption agencies.
A CSCI spokesperson said Dhanda’s letter “correctly reflects the legal position and the way CSCI applies the regulations”.
Adoption support services covered by the regulations:
● Mediation, for example over contact between an adoptive child and natural parent.
● Therapeutic services.