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Author: Alice Talbot

What’s the difference between a Voluntary Adoption Agency and a Regional Adoption Agency?

One of the first decisions to make if you are thinking about adopting is which agency to choose. In your local area there are likely to be two types of adoption agencies to choose from – Voluntary Adoption Agencies (VAAs) and Regional Adoption Agencies (RAAs). This blog explains the main differences between them, to help you reach the right decision for you.

VAAs are independent, not for profit organisations which are smaller than most local government agencies. RAAs on the other hand are collaboratives of local authority adoption teams covering a region. Both VAAs and RAAs do similar work in finding, preparing, training, assessing and supporting prospective adopters – and most importantly matching them with children who are in need of lifelong, loving homes. However, VAAs and RAAs also have different strengths and benefits. Deciding on an agency therefore depends on weighing these up and thinking about what you value most, as well as ensuring you feel comfortable working with the one you choose, as we all have preferences in life.

The main strengths that VAAs offer are:

  1. Lifelong adoption support for their adoptive families. VAAs know that support is absolutely crucial for adoptive families and needs to be available for families to access at any time until a child turns 18, and sometimes beyond, without long waiting lists. VAAs are smaller and tend to be specialised in adoption support so can be responsive to what families need, whenever they need it.
  2. A family feel. Adopters often tell us this is why they chose to adopt with a VAA. Again, the size of VAAs means that adopters can form close relationships with the wider team and agency – not just their own social worker! All the latest Ofsted inspections for our VAAs have been Outstanding or Good, and relationships are at the heart of this. RAAs are not currently inspected although adoption is looked at within the broader inspections of children’s social care services. You can look at Ofsted reports here.
  3. Diversity and inclusivity. VAAs really get to know their local communities and are more likely to place children with adopters from a diverse range of backgrounds. 1 in 5 VAA adoptions are to LGBTQ+ adopters and 13% of VAA adoptions are to adopters from a minority ethnic/global majority group.
  4. The ability to match adopters with children from across the UK, rather than just their local area. VAAs work in partnership with all regions of the country to help find homes for children. This can be especially helpful for those hoping to adopt a child with certain characteristics, such as a child who shares the same ethnicity and cultural heritage.

RAAs of course have their own strengths and benefits too which include:

  1. Being part of the local authorities which have children in their care. This means that RAAs are the first to know about the children who have a plan for adoption, so can start looking for adopters straight away. You might hear that this means RAAs can match adopters with children more quickly than VAAs. This can be true but waiting times depend on lots of other factors too – like where in the country you live, what RAA/VAA partnerships are like in your area, and which children you are open to adopting. Some VAAs publish average times it takes for adopters to be matched with children on their websites, which can help adopters in their decision making.
  2. Matching more younger children without siblings. RAAs tend to look among their own adopters first when seeking to match these children, so if you have definite preferences to adopt a baby or toddler, it’s worth considering this. However, changes in adoption mean that there are fewer babies with a plan for adoption than there used to be, so nothing can be guaranteed. VAAs are experts in finding homes for brothers and sisters, children from diverse backgrounds and who may need extra support in some way – which is why great adoption support and diversity are such big priorities for them!

Feel free to ask VAAs about the differences between their agency and the local RAA too while you are making these decisions. They are there to help and the most important thing is that adopters can make properly informed choices about the agency they go with, by weighing up what is most important to them.

The Adoption and Fostering podcast also discusses some of the differences between VAAs and RAAs in Episode 186, available here.

CVAA statement on the Children’s Social Care Implementation Strategy

We are disappointed by the Children’s Social Care Implementation Strategy published on 2nd February which fails to consider the most vulnerable children in our society: children like Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson for whom home will always be too dangerous, and those children with highly complex needs.

To be clear, we wholly welcome every penny of the funding announced towards supporting families at home, supporting kinship carers and strengthening the children’s social care workforce. But there will always be children who cannot live at home, regardless of how much support their families receive. Many of these children don’t have suitable kinship carers who can step in to look after them instead. These children need new permanent loving homes, and countless research studies have shown that adoption has the best outcomes for the small cohort of children who need an alternative lifelong home. Yet the implementation strategy is silent about these children who need the state’s help the most. There is no protection of adoption as an option for these children, risking more children entering the care system instead.

We are also astounded that the government has not committed any funding towards supporting the lifelong relationships of care-experienced children, despite this being at the very core of the care review, which called for a reshaping of the system to “put relationships front and centre.” Instead, the Implementation Strategy relegates discussion of children’s relationships to its appendix. It concludes that nothing more is needed beyond what is already in train, and specifically the on-going pilot which digitalises letterbox contact for adopted children (Letterswap). What about support for children to see their families and other significant people face to face? What about support for birth families? What about investment in the professionals making decisions about contact, so they have the capacity and expertise to make informed individualised decisions for each child, which can be reviewed and adapted as children grow up and circumstances change? These considerations are relevant for children in all forms of care. Not prioritising relationships amounts to not prioritising what children repeatedly tell us matters most to them.

Lastly we remain extremely concerned about the plan for Regional Care Cooperatives to manage all public sector care placements and commission all not-for-profit and private sector care within that region. The government has accepted this recommendation even though regionalisation in adoption has failed to meet its goals, and despite warnings from numerous stakeholders including the Review’s own Evidence Group. Our care review response, available here, provides more detail on this. The list of promises on pages 104-105 of the government’s strategy are unevidenced and we continue to ask for deeper consultation on this aspect of the strategy.

We will be keeping a close eye on the progression of the data strategy which the government has committed to publishing by the end of 2023. It has been a continued mission at CVAA to push for better evidence on children’s outcomes across different care arrangements, to ensure that all professionals making decisions about children’s futures are doing so on the basis of the best available research. Likewise we will be calling for the Early Career Framework to look at how social workers develop their knowledge around adoption and permanence, as there is currently a skills and experience gap on the front line.

Address the gaps in the care review – CVAA’s message to government ahead of its formal response

It is anticipated that the government in England will make its formal response to the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care final report (published in May 2022) in early 2023. Ahead of this response being published, the Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies (CVAA) is sharing its own response to the final report, reflecting the views of voluntary adoption agencies across the country, urging Government to address the gaps in the report concerning adoption.

CVAA’s statement, published on 13th January 2023, can be found here.

The 2-page section on adoption in the Review’s final report (‘4.3 Modernising Adoption’, pages 109-110) certainly reflects important themes which CVAA has long advocated for, including the need for all children – those adopted and in care – to have much greater support to maintain significant relationships in their lives, alongside far better support for birth families. [1] These are vital recommendations and change in this respect is essential to the flourishing of all children who cannot live in their families of origin. This is both a responsibility for the adoption sector which must improve its practice, and the government which must properly fund services to adapt and grow.

Very welcome too was the recognition given to kinship carers who invariably make significant life changes to care for the children they take responsibility for, and love as their own. Kinship carers, like adopters, parent children who have had the toughest early life experiences and have high levels of need, therefore it is only right that these carers get parity of support and training with adopters.

However, CVAA remains perplexed that the final report failed to address a number of the most serious issues facing the adoption sector right now, which impact on adopted children and families day in, day out. In fact, the report gave the strong impression that the current adoption system is serving children well, save for better contact; a message reinforced by positive references to the Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) programme and the establishment of the Adoption Support Fund.

The dramatic decline in numbers of children being adopted in recent years, the greater proportion of children waiting over 18 months to be matched with adopters, and the crisis in adoption support are all absent in the Review’s final report, despite being major challenges threatening the entire future of adoption. This lack of attention leads us to question who is taking responsibility for robustly interrogating how the adoption system is meeting the needs of children? A question which is even more salient now than when the Care Review was published, given the abolition of the ASGLB at the end of December 2022. The report defers to the government’s recent Adoption Strategy, although this was not independent, and fails to note that evaluations of the RAA programme have been inconclusive. The lack of scrutiny is alarming not just for adopted children and families, but because trends in adoption have implications for the decisions made for children across all forms of care. Moreover, if the Review’s recommendation about the regionalisation of all care services is accepted by the government and modelled on regional adoption agencies (RAAs), the current adoption system will have implications for the structures which support all children in care across the UK.

In the statement we summarise three core issues which demonstrate why adopted children (and those with the potential to be adopted) should not be overlooked in the government’s response to the care review. We present them alongside suggestions of how the government and the sector can tackle them, aided by the knowledge and support of the voluntary sector.

CVAA publishes independent analysis on the value adoption brings to children, families and wider society

Today CVAA has published new analysis from Sonnet Advisory & Impact, which it commissioned to explore the value created by adoption to those who are adopted, their families and the wider society. The analysis confirms that adoption bring substantial value to society through the permanence, stability and support it can offer children who cannot live with their birth families.

According to the final report, which is available here, the value adoption brings is created through two key channels: the improved outcomes adoption offers relative to staying in care or living in special guardianship placements, and the lower financial cost to local authorities of adoption compared to foster and residential homes. According to the available evidence, adopted children and young people have enhanced outcomes across health, education and future employment compared to other placements, decreasing reliance on publicly funded services and support in childhood and later life. Additionally most adoptive parents do not receive financial support from the state, in contrast to foster and residential carers, which adds to the value adoption can bring – when it is in the best interests of the child.

The analysis revealed that at least £4.2 billion in value was generated across England, Wales and Scotland in 2021 when 3,359 children were adopted – including savings of £3.6 billion to local authorities, £541 million to the economy, and £34 million to the NHS. The modelling, which compared the outcomes of children who were adopted with those in other permanent placements found that the value created for adopted children, families and society is at least £1.3million for every child adopted.

Adoption is only right for a small number of children who cannot remain with their birth families. Yet the scale of the benefits it brings to those children – and to society as a whole – appear to be declining year-on-year as the number of children being placed for adoption falls. Despite policies supportive of adoption introduced over the last decade, the number of children adopted peaked in England in 2015 at 5,360, and has since fallen to 2,950 in 2022. This trend has occurred despite increased numbers of children needing to live in safe homes apart from their families of origin, with numbers of children in care in England up 25% since 2010 – and at their highest levels since records began.

Anthony, now aged 21, was adopted by his family through Coram at 20 months. He said the following about his adoption story: “In our family, there is no hierarchy between the birth kids and the adopted kids, we’re all one massive family. I remember feeling really loved and appreciated. I never really had an issue around adoption. I think I had a really easy adoption process, my narrative has been so fixed and clear. It’s really important to make sure that adopted children are not ashamed because there is nothing to be ashamed of, it’s a really beautiful thing that my parents chose me.

“Since being adopted, I’ve been so lucky to develop my music skills. My parents really supported me, taking me to concerts and practice sessions. My parents are amazing. Their goals are realised through helping other people, and I find that really inspiring. I’ve recently fundraised for Coram as I wanted to give back to an organisation that gave me the life I—and all other children in care—should’ve had: a life with a loving family that enabled me to fulfil my potential.”  

Andrew Webb, Chair of CVAA, added: “It’s a rare thing when research concludes that the best outcomes for children can be achieved at the lowest cost to the state. With the country in recession and set for extremely challenging financial times over the years ahead, it would be madness not to give serious consideration to these findings, and we urge governments in all UK nations to act on falling adoption numbers now. CVAA has always maintained that adoption is an intervention for the few, not the many – but the risk of adoption slowly vanishing as an option for children who cannot safely live at home is a grave concern. Evidence continues to show the life-changing and unrivalled benefits adoption holds for children, and with the sector working hard to improve the contact children have with their birth families, there is no justification for letting this trend continue unchallenged.”

So what next?

First and foremost we want UK governments to seriously consider this research and take action on falling adoption numbers without delay. We are also calling on governments in all nations to 1) invest in services supporting children to maintain lifelong family connections, 2) invest in support for kinship carers and Special Guardians, and 3) evaluate the long term outcomes of children in all permanence arrangements (adoption, SGO and long term foster care).

We would like local authority children’s services and the social work profession to take it upon themselves to thoroughly investigate whether social workers making care planning decisions for children have a solid understanding of all the different permanency options, including the benefits and limitations of each option, and the latest research on children’s outcomes.  This also applies to CAFCASS, which should review the knowledge of Guardians ad Litem.

Lastly, we would like to see changes within the Judiciary to ensure that judges are equipped with feedback on the outcomes of their decisions (as per the English care review recommendations) and are provided with resources and training on the outcomes of children living in different permanency placements.

The full report is available here.

 

National Adoption Week: Adopted people identify the significance of understanding and connecting with their pasts, through memory boxes

Today, 17th October 2022, marks the launch of National Adoption Week 2022, which this year focuses on the theme of identity. A new campaign by ‘You can Adopt’ and supported by voluntary adoption agencies (VAAs) explores adopted people’s reflections on their relationships from before, during, and after they were adopted, connect them to their heritage, and understand how this helped them develop a sense of their identity as they grew up. During the week, the campaign will challenge perceptions of modern adoption and show how important it can be for adopted people to be able to understand and feel connected to their past – often through physical keepsakes such as letters, photographs, or childhood toys and sometimes through meeting up.

A new survey released today reveals the special role that ‘memory boxes’ and other sentimental items play in forming our identities and reminding us of the past. Six out of 10 Brits keep a ‘memory box’ or equivalent – the most common items are printed photographs (60%) and greetings cards (49%), while a third of us hold onto toys and handwritten letters. One in four people keep these items because they help them understand who they are and where they came from, while a third said it is so that they have something physical about their life to hand down to relatives.

To mark the start of National Adoption Week, You Can Adopt has released a short film (above) exploring the relationships and memories of four adopted people, as they look back through their own ‘memory boxes’ and keepsakes from their lives before and after they were adopted, which have helped them develop and have an impact on their sense of identity. The emotional film brings to life the connections that adopted people make and how their sense of identity has been formed through various connections in their lives – including birth families, foster carers, friends and adoptive parents.

Tiegan, who speaks with her birth father about her memory box in the film, said:

“Finding out about my birth father when I was 18 was a really happy moment: knowing each other, even if it didn’t come to anything, helped me understand where I stood in the world. I also found out my Dad kept a sonogram from my birth mother’s pregnancy, which I now have and is so special to me. As an adopted person, you don’t expect to have baby photos, let alone a sonogram – I couldn’t believe it. To know he kept that is amazing, it shows my life is an ongoing journey.”

Tiegan, who met her birth dad two years ago, added:

“I think it’s important to be told you’re adopted from the very beginning – my mums knew they weren’t just adopting me, they were adopting my whole history and family as well. There are still struggles – you’ll never get every piece of information. But there were four years of my life before I was adopted, and that’s still part of my story.”

The national survey by You Can Adopt also revealed that eight in 10 of the public say their identity is shaped through connections made throughout their life, and more than three quarters (76%) say it is shaped by an understanding of their family history. Adopted people are no different, and many factors play a role in influencing who they are today – including special memories with foster carers and friends, contact with birth parents, knowledge of their family history, and the relationships formed with their adoptive families.

Sarah Johal, member of the National Adoption Recruitment Steering Group and National Adoption Strategic lead, said:

“It’s really important for adopted people to know about their own history, their family and where they come from. Having continued relationships where that is safe and appropriate is ideal, but if not, it is important for adopted people to have information, stories and keepsakes as connections to their past can really help children as they get older develop a positive sense of identity and emotional well-being.

“With this campaign we want to show that adoption is not a line in the sand, when adopted people close the door on all connections to their life, memories, and relationships from before they were adopted. For the person who is adopted, it is one life – and issues around identity and belonging can come to the fore, particularly if they are not able to have a face to face relationship. It is so important for each person to have the information and connections to their life before adoption. That’s why, during National Adoption Week, we’re urging people to find out more about what modern adoption looks like and shining a light on the ongoing journeys of those who have been adopted.”

While two thirds (66%) of the public did not think adopted people would feel connected to their life before they were adopted – or were unsure – the reality may surprise them. National Adoption Week is highlighting how modern adoption is changing with the aim of helping adopted people to know more about their family history. This may include being able to stay in touch with birth family members or friends (when safe and supported) and encouraging access to a better quality of information through life story books and later life letters.

In fact, nine out of 10 prospective adopters would consider contact with birth parents, while 78% of adopted people felt that connecting directly with birth family members would have helped them to understand their life history and identity more fully, according to the Adoption Barometer, published by Adoption UK.

However, the You Can Adopt campaign also acknowledges that identity, especially for adopted people, can be a life-long journey and is always evolving. While not all adopted people will have mementos from their early life or the opportunity to have contact with people from their life before they were adopted, modern adoption encourages access to a range of quality information. Meanwhile many adopters today make it a priority to help their children to understand and develop their identity.

Professor Beth Neil, Director of Research for the School of Social Work at UEA, and expert in post-adoption contact, said:

“From all our research and those who’ve taken part in our studies, we see that this sense of identity can be improved by knowing more about your birth family and where you come from, and by staying in touch with significant people where it is safe to do so. This can help adopted people fill in gaps in their life story and give them a more complete sense of who they are and why they needed to be adopted. It can also lessen feelings of loss that adopted people often experience and can support them to thrive in their adoptive families.”

A new podcast from You Can Adopt, featuring presenter Ashley John Baptiste and adopted adult Jamal, will also be launched for National Adoption Week exploring the issues of identity, birth relatives, and the relationships developed along the adoption journey. Meanwhile, a series of events offering will be taking place from 17th October to mark National Adoption Week.

To find out more about National Adoption Week or to seek information or support, visit www.youcanadopt.co.uk/NAW

To find out more about adopting with a voluntary adoption agency (VAA), you can find out more here:

https://cvaa.org.uk/adoption/vaas-explained/

https://cvaa.org.uk/agency-finder/

https://cvaa.org.uk/our-members/from-our-members/adoption-information-events/

 

 

CVAA response to the Joint Committee on Human Rights Inquiry report: The Violation of Family Life: Adoption of Children of Unmarried Women 1949–1976

On Friday 15 July the Joint Committee on Human Rights published its report ‘The Violation of Family Life: Adoption of Children of Unmarried Women 1949–1976’, available here. As the membership organisation for voluntary adoption agencies, we wish to make the following response to the report.

Our hearts go out to all the mothers and adopted people who have suffered such pain and hurt from these terrible adoption practices of the past. It is undoubtedly the case that these mothers would have been wonderful loving parents, had they been given the opportunity, which thankfully most single, pregnant young women do get today.

What happened to these mothers was wrong, and although we can not put right these historic wrongs, we can recognise that mothers should not in any way bear the blame for the actions of a society which failed to support young women in their choices, and had had such judgmental attitudes to illegitimacy and single mothers.

Today, voluntary adoption agencies (VAAs) across the UK are actively recruiting single people to provide loving homes for children who cannot remain with their birth families. This is of little comfort to those affected by the events described in this harrowing report, but it is a measure of how far the adoption system, and wider society, has changed.

We are so sorry that the birth mothers and adopted adults affected by these terrible practices have not had access to the support, therapy and care required to help them manage the lasting impact of this trauma on their lives and we wholeheartedly support the Committee’s recommendations on improving access to therapeutic support for both birth mothers and adopted people of all ages. Support for birth families and adult adoptees is still an under resourced service across much of the UK and is a vital part of creating a fair and humane adoption system which recognises the lifelong trauma of early loss.

The mothers and adopted people who have shared their stories with the inquiry have shown immense courage and dignity in being willing to make themselves vulnerable, to right a historic wrong. The experience of birth families and adopted people is now given much greater respect in the adoption system. All VAAs involve birth families and adopted people in their preparation courses for adopters and in the development of their services, acknowledging that loss is, sadly, an unavoidable part of adoption.

Greater investment is also needed to enable social services and adoption agencies to respond in a caring and efficient way to those seeking information about their own adoption or that of a close relative. We recognise the many difficulties which surround this, but the poignancy of mothers seeking information on whether their child is still alive must drive change to enable all those affected by adoption to have easier access to the information which is part of their life history. This is not simply an administrative process, it is a social work service, requiring professional support to help people make sense of the information they receive and its potential emotional impact.

Thankfully the total severance of ties between adopted children and their birth families is now very rare, although far more needs to be done to support the maintenance of early relationships which are important to children and their development of a strong sense of identity and belonging. It is heartbreaking to think of so many adopted children growing up thinking their birth mothers “gave them away”, when nothing was further from the truth. VAAs are calling on the governments of the UK to establish a national service to support birth and adoptive families in sustaining relationships in the best interest of the child. Such a service could also be a repository for the health and other important information adopted people may need as they grow up and ensure that never again would a birth mother have to worry about whether the child she bore was still alive.

Finally, we endorse and support the Committee’s call for a Government apology. This cannot take away decades of hurt but it can and should acknowledge on behalf of all of us that a great wrong was done and as a nation we deeply regret that.

‘THESE CHILDREN MAY BE HARDER TO PLACE, BUT THEY ARE NOT HARDER TO LOVE’

NEW CAMPAIGN SEEKS ADOPTERS FOR CHILDREN WHO WAIT THE LONGEST, AS MANY CHILDREN FACE YEAR-LONG DELAYS [1]

Today, You Can Adopt has launched ‘A Life Less Ordinary’, a new campaign to find parents for children waiting longest to be adopted. With latest data revealing there are enough prospective adopters for most children waiting to be adopted, the campaign is focused on finding the right adopters for specific groups of children that face the greatest delays in finding a home. These include children aged five or over, children with additional and/or complex needs, brother and sister groups, and those from an ethnic minority background.

These groups represent 65% (1,220) of the 1,890 children currently waiting to be adopted in England, according to the most recent data from the ASGLB (Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board, 2021/22). Further, 760 children in these groups have been waiting for 18 months or longer to be placed.

Compared to children without these characteristics:

  • Children over 5 wait 13 months longer to be adopted from care
  • Children with a disability wait11 months longer
  • Children in brother and sister groups wait 11 months longer
  • Children from an ethnic minority (excluding white minorities) wait 3 months longer

To reduce waiting times for these groups, the campaign showcases the many life-changing benefits of adopting these children, explores the traits parents need to be resilient adopters, and highlights the support available to adopters and adopted children – highlighting that while some children may be ‘harder to place’, they are not ‘harder to love’.

The campaign also offers additional support and information around adopting children from an ethnic minority background, as the reasons why children from this group typically wait longer are complex and different to those from other groups.

As part of the ‘A Life Less Ordinary’ campaign, new data from You Can Adopt shows that nearly a third (31%) of people in England would consider adopting a child. However, showing the need for adopters to come forward specifically for groups waiting longest, the majority are most open to adopting a child aged between 1 and 4 (88%); nearly four in ten (39%) wouldn’t adopt a child with additional needs, (e.g., a physical/mental disability), and one in four (26%) wouldn’t adopt a brother and sister group.

The survey also reveals perceptions, practical challenges, and barriers around adopting these groups. 42% didn’t feel they had the skills to adopt a child with additional needs and 1 in 6 (17%) would feel overwhelmed by adopting a brother and sister group. Cost and lack of space at home were also concerns around adopting children from across all groups.

However, over half (51%) said they would be more likely to consider adopting a child from one of these groups if they knew about the range of support available. The survey also showed that respondents believed the most important criteria were to be ‘patient’, ‘loving’ and ‘kind’ to give these children who wait longest a home.

Mark Owers, Chair of the National Adoption Recruitment Steering Group, said:

While some groups of children may be seen as ‘harder to place’, they are not harder to love. That’s why we’re shining a light on those children who typically wait longest to be adopted – such as brother and sister groups, older children, children of colour and children with additional needs. We urgently need to bust the myths and misconceptions that may exist around adopting these children and find parents who can give them a loving, stable, permanent home. Most potential adopters already have the skills and attributes they need to change the course of these children’s lives. While it might not always be easy, support is available, and adoption is so rewarding.”

While at first people may not feel confident to adopt brothers and sisters, older children, or those with additional needs, parents of adopted children have emphasised they have many of the same everyday needs and qualities as any other child.

A new survey of adoptive parents showed more than half (55%) felt adopting had been the most meaningful, rewarding experience of their life.[2] Further, while most adopters (57%) did not originally set out to adopt a child from one of the groups which typically waits longer, 54% said they became more open-minded to it as they moved through the process.

As part of the ‘A Life Less Ordinary’ campaign, a new touching film has been released featuring children from these groups forming an ‘expert’ interview panel, asking real adoptive parents questions about what it takes to give these children a permanent home.

View here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuR98LJ0tLg

Malcolm and Shelley, from County Durham, who feature in the film, are parents to brothers Kieron and Tyler (who they adopted aged 4 and 5), and Courtney, who they adopted aged 3. They said:

“When we adopted siblings, we always say it brought twice the fun into our lives. They need each other and love each other, and we wouldn’t have wanted to split them up. Then when we adopted Courtney a few years later, it definitely got a bit noisier in our house! We are so honoured to be able to look after our daughter, who has additional physical needs, and see how she has gone above and beyond what might have been expected of her. For anybody adopting a child with special needs, there’s absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t lead a fulfilling and wonderful life. You’re giving them a future they might otherwise not have had. It can be challenging, but we just get on with it and adapt as a family!”

Adam and Daniyal from Newcastle, who also feature in the film, are adoptive parents to 2-year old Samad, who is from a South Asian background. They said:

“With regards to adopting a child from an ethnic minority background, we see it as a definite positive because you’re bringing something extra into your family that you might not have otherwise been able to experience. It just enhances our relationship with our son – to learn and understand his heritage. It means we don’t just get to celebrate Christmas and Easter, we get Eid too, and that really enriches our family life.”

The national survey found that 70% of the public were not aware of support services available for adoptive parents. The campaign highlights the range of adoption support services available which starts with preparation to adopt, and includes support groups, training, workshops, family days and specialised therapy tailored to families’ needs. There is also an Adoption Support Fund, set up by the Government, to pay for therapeutic services for adoptive children and their parents, as well as specific support for children with disabilities, including therapies and funding for specialised equipment. Adoption agencies provide ongoing support and advice to all their adoptive families.

If you’ve ever considered adopting and want to find out more about the children who wait the longest, find out more at:

https://www.youcanadopt.co.uk/alifelessordinary/

To find out more about voluntary adoption agencies which are highly experienced at finding and supporting adopters for children who wait the longest, please explore the following pages on our website:

https://cvaa.org.uk/adoption/vaas-explained/what-is-a-vaa/

https://cvaa.org.uk/adoption/vaas-explained/why-adopt-with-a-vaa/

 

 

[1]  ASGLB Quarterly Data Collection, Q3 2021/22

[2] Adoption Network Survey: Conducted with 516 respondents on SurveyMonkey: adopters, potential adopters and those who work in adoption services between 19-25 May

Closure of adoption agency Families For Children

It is with great sadness that Trustees have to announce that the voluntary adoption agency and charity Families for Children is to close. For almost 30 years the charity has placed over 700 children who now live in safe, secure and loving homes but it is no longer able to do so.

The last 3 years have been very challenging on a number of fronts, but especially the effects of the  development of Regional Adoption Agencies and the year-on-year reduction in the number of children who are receiving adoption as their permanency plan. Fewer children have been available from Local Authorities to place with families and many RAAs have sought to minimise external placements, which has meant that fewer children are placed with Voluntary Adoption Agencies even though children who wait the longest are still waiting to be placed. Meanwhile there is even greater demand on grants and trust funds that support charities, which is where Families for Children receive funds to continue to support families after an adoption order.

Although the Government has ensured that the Adoption Support Fund has been continued to support children and families to access much needed therapeutic support, this does not cover practical lower level day-to-day needs. VAAs have sought charitable funding to be able to offer those much needed services. With COVID, the Ukraine war and the rising cost of living, charitable funds have been targeted to particular needs, and charitable funds reduced during COVID, leaving more charities chasing the same few funders.

VAAs have a long history of placing children with more complex needs, children who are older or are part of larger sibling groups with adopted families. Since 2010, Families for Children has placed:

  • 406 children with 308 adoptive families.
  • 93 sibling groups of 3 or more children.
  • 113 children 4 years and older

Families for Children has adopters waiting for those children with the greatest need but the increased time delays have badly affected our cash flow and we are not able to continue.

Families for Children will work with other VAAs and RAAs to enable families to receive future support for themselves as their children grow up.

Families for Children Trustees and CEO would like to thank adopters, staff, Patrons, and other agencies who have supported the charity over the years.

Voluntary adoption agencies collaborate to highlight choice for prospective adoptive parents

INDEPENDENT adoption agencies from across the UK have joined forces to highlight the choices available to people considering becoming a parent through adoption.

The Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies (CVAA) is supporting 12 adoption agencies taking part in the #AdopterChoice campaign, launching on 11 April 2022. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the options available for anyone thinking about adopting a child or children.

People wishing to adopt can choose to apply through their local authority, a regional adoption agency or a voluntary adoption agency (VAA).

Voluntary adoption agencies (VAAs) are independent, not-for-profit organisations which are smaller than most statutory agencies and offer a personalised service to adopters from all backgrounds.

VAAs work in partnership with local authorities and regional adoption agencies across the whole of the UK to find families for children in care who are unable to stay with their birth relatives.

As part of the #AdopterChoice campaign, adoptive parents have spoken of the reasons why they chose to adopt through a VAA.

Adoptive dad Tom said: “We looked around at a few different agencies, both local authority and voluntary agencies but it was from the voluntary agency that we got that sense of personalised support and the interest in us. It felt like our social worker was entirely in our corner and they didn’t have any agenda or priorities of their own, they were just solely focused on making the best match they could for both the children and also for us.”

Mum of one Zoe said: “A VAA is able to work with children from across the country because they aren’t bound like a local authority is for their region, so as a result, they were able to match me with my son. He was from a different area of the country, and it was a perfect fit!”

Adopter Rhi said: “One of the great things about a voluntary adoption agency is that they often focus on children who wait longer for a placement. As we were looking at adopting an older child, we thought that was really useful.”

Mum of three, Amy said: “Our experience has been fantastic! It’s been really personalised, it’s been really supportive. It’s been fundamental to where our family life is now. The key factor in that has been the support from the voluntary agency from our first contact with them up until today and the support we are still receiving.”

Watch a film featuring the experiences of all five adopters at https://youtu.be/ZeGpWgCgzDE .

The CVAA champions voluntary adoption agencies from across the UK, of which there are 36 in total.

CVAA CEO Maggie Jones said: “Voluntary Adoption agencies have the advantage of being rooted in their local community while also being able to search across the country to link children with the adoptive families which are best for them.

“VAAs are genuinely welcoming of adopters from all walks of life and offer really high quality support for the whole of the adoption journey.”

To learn more about adopting with a voluntary adoption agency, see our advice on adopting and agency finder, for locating your nearest VAA.

Inflationary increase in the interagency fee for 2022/23

On 19 January 2022, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) level for January-December 2021, which was 4.8%. This means that, from 1st April 2022 to 31st March 2023, the interagency fee levels for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will increase.

The interagency fee covers the costs borne by LAs, VAAs and RAAs in recruiting and assessing adopters, matching and placing children, and providing supervision and support up to the point of the adoption order.

Please check our webpage on the interagency fee for all the latest updates, including the new figures for each region and guidance on the fee.

Although this increase is substantially more than the 0.8% rise last year, interagency fees continue to provide real value for money, both in comparison with the lifetime costs of other permanency placements and in relation to research which calculated the cost of an adoption placement for a single child as £36,905 in 2014 (Selwyn et al.)

VAAs continue to provide lifelong support to the children and young people they place, adopted adults and their families. This is becoming ever more important as the complexity of children placed by VAAs increases along with the lifetime impact of their early trauma.

Crucially, adoption continues to have very positive outcomes for care experienced children, providing loving, forever families for many children who need them.