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Introducing our new strategy – why identity, inclusion and modernisation will be key to the future of adoption

CVAA is pleased to be launching a blog to coincide with the launch of our new strategy in April 2024. To kick us off our CEO, Satwinder Sandhu, who has worked in adoption & fostering services for almost 30 years shares some reflections on reflections on the sector’s discussions about modernising adoption and why it is important.

CVAA celebrated its 30th anniversary last year and this year we are set to launch our strategy for 2024-27. In shaping the strategy, we have taken stock of where the adoption sector across the UK is today and what we think voluntary adoption agencies can and should be doing to shape the future of services. The recent thematic Ofsted report on Regional Adoption Agencies (RAAs) demonstrates that the need for this input remains as strong as ever and CVAA remains committed to supporting Adoption England in their own strategic priorities.

We have already been working on cross-sector initiatives to modernise adoption and our strategy sets priorities to go further.  By modernising we essentially mean that adoption needs to be much more focussed on the needs of adoptees, and at each stage of life particularly in relation to supporting their identity needs.

To help support this, we are very fortunate to have benefitted from the input of adoptees and their families into our new strategy, as ultimately, they are the most acutely affected by adoption, including the current policies and practices across our sector.

Voluntary Adoption Agencies recognise this too and many of our member organisations already run services for adoptees of all ages, such as teentalk to help children and young people to fully understand not only their whole identity but the impact that adoption will continue to have on their lives. But has the law kept up with practice? CVAA has been actively involved in the Public Law Working Group on adoption and we are optimistic about the positive changes to outcomes that shifts in the law and regulations could bring.

We fully believe that adoption needs to continue to change, not only at a practical level to better meet the needs of children and young people, but also as a legal construct so that it remains fit for the future. Society is unrecognisable from when adoption was first formally legalised and so it is inevitable that adoption should evolve too. We are interested to monitor the impact of changes like the ones introduced in New South Wales, Australia, where since October 2020 adoptees have a dual birth and adoption certificate, known as an Integrated Birth Certificate. Surely such changes can only impact the lives of adoptees positively.

There are suggestions that adoption could be more like guardianship, but every decision has consequences so a lot more research and consultation is still required.

Now that we have touched on modernisation, over the coming weeks, ahead of our formal strategy launch, we will focus on each of our other strategic priorities and explain why they are so important and what role they might play in shaping the future of adoption.