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Assembly Committee urges Welsh Government to be more ambitious with plans for a national adoption service

08 November 2012

The Welsh Government’s plans to establish a new national adoption service don’t go far enough, according to a National Assembly for Wales committee.

The Children and Young People Committee’s report on the findings of its inquiry into adoption services in Wales determined that the proposals contained within the forthcoming Social Services (Wales) Bill should be significantly strengthened. It states that a new National Service should have responsibility for a range of aspects of adoption and that better support should be provided to families who adopt.

“While the Committee applauds the concept behind the Welsh Government’s proposals for a National Adoption Service, we don’t feel the current proposals go far enough,” said Christine Chapman AM, Chair of the Children and Young People Committee.

“We believe the National Service should take on many of the responsibilities for adoption, including the recruitment and preparation of adopters and employing its own staff both nationally and regionally to ensure a consistent and high quality standard of service.

“Adopter parents have told the Committee of the positive life-changing experience of adopting their children and that this by far outweighs the many challenges they may have faced along their adoption journey.

"While we accept that adopting a vulnerable child can sometimes be a difficult process, the adoptive parents we spoke to told of the amazing, positive experiences they had had and hoped others would want to experience something similar.

The Committee found inconsistencies in the approach of adoption services in different parts of Wales. The discrepancies include the way in which adopters are recruited and assessed and also in the support given to parents post-adoption. The Committee found that schools and mental health services should have a bigger role to play in supporting some adopted children. Evidence submitted to the inquiry also included difficulties in even registering to be considered as an adoptive parent.

"The way adoption services are delivered in Wales needs to improve. Unless current proposals are changed, a significant opportunity will be missed to make greatly needed improvements in the lives of adopter families and some of the most vulnerable children in Wales.

The Committee makes 16 recommendations in its report, including:

  • The direct service delivery role of the National Adoption Service should be significantly strengthened from what is currently set out in the Social Services (Wales) Bill consultation document. The service should have a central delivery role and employ staff to work on a range of adoption. It should not be ‘owned by local authorities’ as set out in current proposals.The lead role within the Service should be a senior independent role, reporting to a multi-agency board, and ultimately accountable to the relevant Welsh Government Minister;

  • the Welsh Government should establish a National Adoption Register for Wales and all prospective adopters and children with an adoption plan should be immediately placed on the register to be available for matching, and;

  • the Welsh Government, in conjunction with the UK Government, should explore the feasibility of the responsibility for the provision of post-adoption support remaining with the placing authority until the child’s 18th birthday.

Children and Young People Committee

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