Adoption agencies face hefty bills for training under new standards

Some voluntary adoption agencies face bills of thousands of
pounds to make sure they comply with recently introduced inspection

Yvette Gayford, the new chairperson of the Consortium of Voluntary
Adoption Agencies, said she knew of several members that were
worried about their ability to achieve the National Care Standards
Commission’s requirement for 20 per cent of staff to be holders of,
or in the process of gaining, the post-qualifying award in child
care by April 2006.

Gayford said some were delaying putting their staff through the
one-year course in the hope the standard might change. Others were
looking at getting around the problem by employing staff already
qualified. Agencies that have service level agreements (SLAs)with
councils can reclaim 70 per cent of the £1,750 fee for the
course from them.

Agencies that do not have SLAs and rely heavily on inter-agency
fees being paid when a placement is made will be worst affected.
Not only are they ineligible to claim the 70 per cent, but agency
cover is needed for staff when they are studying.

Gayford said many agencies did not have SLAs with neighbouring
authorities, where they placed many children for adoption.

She said that many workers could not pass on their cases because
they had strong links with the family they worked with. If
experienced workers had to train, the volume of approvals could go
down and the number of inter-agency fees could also drop.

“Just two fewer would be a loss of around £35,000,” Gayford
added. “A number of agencies have been holding off doing anything
while others are saying they may recruit workers with the
qualification, but that could increase their salary bills.”

She called for all agencies to talk to councils over reimbursement
of fees and to “think very carefully” about the pace and cost of

The child care course takes the equivalent of 55 days of classroom
study, requiring one to two days a week job release, and 53 days
practice based. On top of course fees, agencies may also have to
pay up to £700 for an assessor or mentor.

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