Voluntary adoption agencies are significantly outperforming their local authority counterparts, inspectors have found.
On average, national minimum standards are met by almost threequarters of voluntary sector agencies, compared with half of councils, according to a Commission for Social Care Inspection report.
Voluntary agencies perform particularly strongly on matching children with adopters, providing support and maintaining the child’s heritage. But the study found that voluntary agencies generally did better because of their “more specific remit”.
Overall, the quality of adoption practice is described as “very variable” across the country with “some aspects of practice falling below the required standard in most places”.
The quality of assessment reports on children were “poor” or “not of a consistently good quality” in over half of all agencies and some assessments “lacked balance, were inaccurate and out of date”.
And one in 10 agencies did not carry out fully comprehensive checks on potential adopters, the report revealed.
British Association for Adoption and Fostering deputy chief executive Barbara Hutchinson said the fact that voluntary agencies were able to focus exclusively on adoption contributed to their success in meeting standards.
“Local authorities, too, have skilled, specialist adoption teams, but they do have competing demands on their resources and a broader remit, as they must consider the overall plans for all children in their care,” she added.
Meanwhile, a second CSCI report, by children’s rights director Roger Morgan, found adopted children wanted more
information about their birth families and why they were adopted.
● Adoption: Messages from Inspection of Adoption Agencies and About Adoption