Social workers ‘best placed’ to fill support role, as Lord Hunt puts onus on councils

Adoption UK believes the role of the adoption support key worker
would be best filled by a qualified social worker.

Under the draft adoption support services regulations, to be
introduced from October as part of the Adoption and Children Act
2002, key workers will “provide advice and support to the service
user in relation to support services”.

The draft regulations give few details of the role other than that
they will act as the first port of call for adopters and
prospective adopters, signposting them to relevant support
services. They are unlikely to be full-time posts and should be a
“natural extension of existing practice”, the draft regulations

Adoption UK director Jonathan Pearce told delegates that, although
the role was not clearly defined as a social work one, social
workers would be best placed to fulfil the key worker requirement
as he envisaged it. “The view we have put forward is that the
person would be the major point of contact and, while they would
need to be independent from the assessing adoption team, it would
make sense if they worked in the adoption department,” he

“They would need to have clout in the social work team, be an
advocate for the adopters and know a lot about adoption issues such
as abuse, detachment and trauma.”

However, he questioned whether this was realistic given that
councils were already struggling to fill “pure” social work
vacancies and existing staff were often overworked.

The final regulations are due to be published this month.

Meanwhile, former health minister Lord Hunt told delegates that it
was up to councils and adoption agencies to make a success of new
adoption support procedures.

Hunt, who steered the Adoption and Children Act through the House
of Lords last year before resigning from his post last month over
the war in Iraq, said much of the new legislation in the act was
based on best practice already being carried out by some council
adoption teams.

“There is a tremendous focus and discipline on local authorities
and independent adoption agencies to make sure that they implement
the legislation on adoption practice,” Hunt said.

“It may not be perfect but the framework is much better than we’ve
had before in relation to adoption procedures and support

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