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CVAA launch week: influencing policy, practice and sector action.

Adoption as we know and understand it in the UK continues to evolve, but not fast enough for the families who need it right now. The data consistently shows that too many children are still waiting too long to be found a family, particularly those with complex needs or from the Global Majority. The approach to maintaining children’s relationships whilst improving is also lagging far behind what the latest evidence and adoptees are saying is needed. In some cases, it can mean that adoption is not even considered as an option because it is assumed relationships will not be maintained. Support for adopted people also remains woefully inadequate not just in terms of early intervention, but also in education, health and into adulthood. These failings have lifelong consequences.

That’s why last week CVAA launched a series of reports designed to help shape, policy practice and also sector action.

We kicked off with our new strategy which will guide our work and focus for the next 3 years. It lays out a vision for shaping the future of adoption services centred around creating a diverse, inclusive and modern adoption system which can truly meet children’s identity needs.

Underpinned by a thriving voluntary sector, our strategy argues that the transformation of adoption must be centred around three core objectives.

  • Meeting adopted people’s identity needs
  • Tackling sector and adopter diversity
  • Championing the modernisation of adoption

These themes are not new, and across both voluntary and statutory agencies work is already underway to drive best practice. Our strategy builds on this work and sets a series of goals which will either embed what is working well more widely or develop new ways of working to the benefit of families, and ultimately adoptees.

To ensure that our ambition is backed up by action, last week also marked the launch of My People a blueprint for a new network and hub to transform how we support adopted children to maintain relationships with the people who are important to them. We know this is critical because adoptee voices are repeatedly telling us that the experiences of being separated from parents, brothers and sisters, as well as others significant to them, continues to have a detrimental effect on their lives as adults. Despite good work going on within agencies on this, the pace of change has not been fast enough, and we hope My People can bring some much-needed coordination and structure to the existing best practice going on across the country. My People also sets out ideas for supporting adoptees through adulthood when they need services, something which currently does not exist.

However, it is also clear that the sector alone cannot deliver the scale of change that is needed. Many of the challenges facing VAAs, and ultimately families, are driven by current funding models, legal frameworks or national policies which stand in the way of child-centred decision making or prevent adoptees and their families getting the support they need.

Reforming these will take action from the next government to lay the right foundations for change. For this reason, our final publication last week was our Manifesto for Adoption which sets out the key steps political leaders must take. This draws not just upon the voices of our members but those of adopters, adoptees and birth families and is focused on five key themes:

  1. Recognising the value of adoption
  2. Reducing delay for all children, but particularly those who wait the longest
  3. Supporting adopted children’s identity needs
  4. Timely support which prioritises early intervention and developing more trauma-informed schools
  5. Acknowledging the lifelong impact of trauma

Key recommendations within this include levelling the inter-agency fee in England, a commitment to the ongoing funding for the Adoption and Special Guardianship Support Fund beyond March 2025, creating multi-disciplinary support plans (with a duty to deliver them) for every adopted child and ensuring that support continues past 18 to recognise the lifelong nature of adoption and it’s associated trauma. A full copy of our Manifesto is available here.

To mark the culmination of this important work, we were delighted to bring together members and partners from across the children’s social care sector, including Ofsted, Department for Education, the Judiciary and academics, at NCVO last week.

The launch was also an opportunity to hear from individuals with lived experience adoptees and adopters, about why the work VAAs do is so important and why we must continue to come together to push for the change that adoptees and their families deserve.

We know that there is much work to be done but our portfolio of publications sets out our vision and ambition, which we believe can be realised if the sector comes together. To enable this CVAA will convene an Adoption Sector Summit later this year to ensure that all relevant stakeholders, including adoptees themselves, contribute to our efforts in shaping the future of adoption services.