The National Adoption Service for Wales was launched today, promising to boost the quality of the country’s adoption services.
The move will see all council adoption services grouped into 5 regional groups, called ‘collaboratives’, that will be overseen by the national service.
The national service will oversee consistency, development and improvement in both council and voluntary sector adoption services and encourage sharing of best practice.
Suzanne Griffiths, director of operations at the national service, said the aim is to tackle inconsistencies in adoption services in Wales, including long waiting times for children and adopters as well as poor quality post-adoption support.
“We’ve also introduced a new performance management framework so we will be in a better position to be able to monitor the performance of adoption services and identify where we need to continue to make other improvements,” Griffiths said.
She said that adoption social workers will not experience disruption or lose their jobs due to the creation of the national service: “Social workers who work in the adoption service are going to need to maintain their close links with the social workers who are doing care management.”
The regional collaboratives will jointly commission adoption services and lead their delivery, although some functions may continue to be delivered by individual councils.
“All local authorities will be involved in the management of their regional collaborative,” she said. “So although one of the local authorities is in effect the host and the lead authority, all the local authorities will have a role at officer and member level in the management of that service.”
The change will also see the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) Cymru operating a Wales-wide adoption register. “If we have adopters or children who can’t be matched in their regional arrangements, then the national register will help us to do that,” Griffiths said.
Besides BAAF Cymru, four other voluntary adoption charities will also be working with the national service: Adoption UK, After Adoption, Barnardo’s Cymru and St David’s Children’s Society.
Ann Bell, Adoption UK’s development manager for Wales, said the main impact of the change would be greater consistency in policy and practice.
Bell also anticipated that it will lead to changes for social workers: “It is likely that adoption social workers will work in specialist teams going forward. This will be helpful in the case of adoption support since they will have opportunities to develop specialist skills in adoption support.”
The five regional collaboratives are:
- Mid and West Wales: Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Powys
- North Wales: Conwy, Denbingshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Wrexham and Ynys Mon
- South East Wales: Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport, Torfaen
- Vale, Valleys and Cardiff: Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Vale of Glamorgan
- Western Bay: Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot, Swansea