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A strategy to support VAAs to tackle adopter and sector diversity

This week we are continuing to focus on the forthcoming CVAA Strategy 2024-27 and delving deeper into one of our strategic priorities – adopter and sector diversity. At the CVAA Members’ conference in November 2023 one of the highlights was an address from Lord Simon Woolley on helping us as a sector to address racial disparity.

The discussion with voluntary adoption agencies (VAAs) since then has gone onto shape one of our strategic ambitions which is to address both adopter and sector diversity through both gathering more evidence and data on these issues and supporting VAAs to ensure that all services are delivered through an equitable and intersectional approach, rooted in anti-discriminatory practice.

In 2022 the Adoption & Special Guardianship Board published its findings on Ending Racial Disparity in Adoption, and CVAA was pleased to be able to contribute to that work. Despite this, we know that racial disparities remain an issue at many stages of the care system and recent findings from the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory back this view, so there is still much to be done. CVAA plans to support our members by leading new initiatives at a national level that can then be applied regionally and locally.

We know that we need to recruit more adopters from Black communities, but crucially they also need to be able to truly meet the complex needs of the children who continue to wait and not just be a good match because of their ethnicity. We have the expertise and resources as VAAs, and a great example of this was the London Black Families project. Unfortunately, this knowledge has not been applied strategically and systematically across the sector, so now is the time to do this.

Alongside this we also need to ensure that the workforce across VAAs is more representative of the children we work with, particularly at leadership and managerial levels. At present only one VAA in the whole of the UK is headed by a Black colleague so CVAA wants to support changes by working across our membership to encourage more Black colleagues into senior roles and help agencies to identify what will make this happen.

We believe that our work will help us to see meaningful and sustainable changes by 2027 and we look forward to reporting on this in our annual reports.