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LGA MEETS EXPERTS TO FIND WAYS OF IMPROVING ADOPTION SERVICES

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The LGA has brought together top level adoption professionals and policy makers to hammer out an action plan to imp...
The LGA has brought together top level adoption professionals and policy makers to hammer out an action plan to improve local authority adoption procedures.

The LGA's new adoption task group heard evidence from adoption agencies, the Social Services Inspectorate, a children's charity and a leading academic about how local authorities can work to eliminate unnecessary adoption delays.

The plans include encouraging more local authorities to use innovative approaches such the internet, through secure encrypted sites, to match children in need of families with prospective adoptive parents.

The LGA is also planning to encourage the growth of local authority adoption consortia, which give authorities a wider net to make matches but ensure youngsters can stay in a familiar area and in contact with friends.

And it will produce a best practice leaflet so the lessons from authorities with an excellent adoption record can be learned by others.

The task group also heard how the current recruitment crisis in social work is leaving too many prospective adoptive parents waiting too long for registration because there are not enough qualified social workers to assess them.

And there were warnings that the government's current pressure to speed up adoption could, if pushed too far, led to an increase in breakdowns of unsuitable placements, a damaging pattern found in the 1980s during a similar initiative.

LGA Task group chair Maureen Rutter said: 'We had a very interesting and informative meeting and we expect a great deal of useful knowledge and advice will be passed on which will enable us to assist local authorities to improve adoption practices for those looked after children who cannot return home.'

NOTES

1) Membership of the task group includes:

Felicity Collier, director, British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering

Gerri McAndrew, National Foster Carers Association

Ann Wheal, Dept of Social Work Studies, University of Southampton

Representatives from NCH Action for Children, the Department of Health, and the Association of Directors of Social Services

2) The LGA also has a social care workforce task force to address the current recruitment problems in social services.

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