Shake-up for support services ‘set to attract more people into adoption’

Adoption groups have welcomed the new regulations on support
services as likely to encourage more people to consider adoption.

Published two months later than planned, the regulations are an
improvement on the original proposals, say charities Baaf Adoption
and Fostering and Adoption UK.

For the first time, the regulations oblige councils to regularly
assess adopters, adopted children and birth relatives of adopted
children for their financial and service-related support needs as a
result of the placement.

Services could include support groups for adoptive parents and
adoptive children, support for contact arrangements between
adoptive children and birth relatives, therapeutic services and
counselling advice and information.

Under the regulations, which take effect from October, services can
be contracted out to the voluntary and independent sectors.

Support plans should be drawn up, including one for the health
needs of the child, and adoption support service advisers appointed
in every council.

The local authority that places the child will be responsible for
providing services for them – even where adopters come from outside
their area – perhaps until they are 18. But, where agreed, support
may be provided for by the council in whose area the family lives.

Councils will also be expected to offer one-off or recurring
payments to contribute towards the additional costs associated with
adopting a child, such as travel expenses to access services,
buying a larger car or adapting a house.

Adoption UK director Jonathan Pearce said that, if properly
introduced, the measures in the regulations could bring “great
benefits” to adopters.

“Placing the adoption support worker within the second tier of
management will force things to happen and force people to listen,”
Pearce said.

He added that making it clear that responsibility for support
services rested with the placing authority would “address the
problem of councils having the incentive to place children out of
their areaÉand then switching off”.

But questions remain over whether the £70m government funding
to implement the changes will be enough.

“It is going to be a great challenge for councils to put in place
systems to assess needs, let alone deliver services,” Pearce

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