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Influencing & Policy

We put ours members' centuries of experience at the heart of our influencing work, while also providing a robust policy service to members and advocating for adoption policy that best serves children and their families.

National forums

CVAA represents the VAA sector in a wide range of national forums in England. Our presence enables us to advocate for our members and lobby for change where families and children are not being well served by the adoption system.

National Adopter Recruitment Steering Group

CVAA sits on the cross-sector National Adopter Recruitment Steering Group, which oversees funding for adopter recruitment provided by the Department for Education. The Steering Group brings together voluntary organisations, LAs and RAAs to strategically plan national adoption recruitment campaigns, with a focus on finding adopters for the children who wait the longest, including BAME children, children in sibling groups, and children with highly complex needs.

Ofsted Adoption subgroup

Ofsted hosts a quarterly meeting of adoption professionals in order to share good practice, raise issues, disseminate information and inform inspection policy. We attend these meetings on behalf of CVAA’s membership and ensure that concerns and feedback from the VAA sector are on the agenda.

CoramBAAF UK Social Work Practice Advisory Committee

The UKSWPAC is a group of social work practitioners who meet termly to discuss practice and policy issues in adoption, fostering and child care. CoramBAAF kindly invites CVAA to attend these meetings, which provide us with useful insights into key issues in adoption practice and help to inform the themes of our Practice Programme.

Interagency fee

The purpose of the interagency fee is to ensure that agencies receive adequate payment for the work involved in recruiting, assessing, preparing, approving and matching their adopters, and in supporting a child’s start in their adoptive family’s home. It is also intended to improve the process for matching children and adopters across agency boundaries, which is crucial for avoiding delay and ensuring the best possible match for a child.

Since 1992, CVAA has set the interagency fee for placement with a VAA, and reviewed and uplifted it when necessary to keep pace with rising costs.

In 2009, seminal research by Julie Selwyn, Joe Sempik, Peter Thurston and Dinithi Wijedasa (from the Hadley Centre for Adoption and Foster Care Studies, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol and the Centre for Child and Family Research, Loughborough University) found that the costs of placing a child with an adoptive family were around £35-37,000. At the time, VAAs were charging around £23,000 for a placement. In the ten years since the study, the fee has been raised to over £31,000; however, this still falls short of Selwyn et al.’s findings.

The fee to place with any agency (voluntary or statutory) was £27,000 from 2011 to 2018. This ‘level playing field’ was agreed by ADCS, LGA and CVAA and supported the placement of thousands of children with adopters across the UK.

In June 2018, after consultation with our members, CVAA raised the fee for the first time in 7 years. ADCS and LGA did not feel able to agree to this increase; consequently there has not been a ‘level playing field’ since June 2018, and ASGLB data shows that children are now waiting longer for a placement. However, CVAA members continue to place 1 in 4 children for whom the plan is adoption.

CVAA raised the fee with the support of the VAAs because the value of the fee had been significantly eroded by inflation and was well below the cost of providing a placement. This was unsustainable for both the VAA sector and the wider adoption system.

Adoption and Special Guardianship Support Fund (previously the Adoption Support Fund)

In February 2020, CVAA hosted a roundtable event on the Adoption Support Fund with delegates from across the adoption system. The discussion built on the findings of the APPG for Adoption and Permanence and explored options for change from the perspective of agencies, practitioners, and government. Since then, of course, there have been new developments, with adoption support going almost entirely digital and the DfE introducing the ASF Covid-19 scheme.

All of those who attended the roundtable strongly supported the ASF and wished to work constructively with government to make the best possible use of these welcome and much-needed resources for adopted and special guardian children and their families.

The conversations in both the plenary and breakout sessions reflected a wide range of concerns and possibilities. They provided fresh ideas and comprehensive evidence for the recommendations in our resulting report.

Supporting Families, Achieving Change – CVAA ASF Report July 2020

Since then, CVAA continues to advocate for reform to the ASF including seeing the funding for it extended beyond 2025.

Care Review (England)

In May 2021, we submitted a briefing to the Independent Review for Children’s Social Care on four intersecting priorities for modernising adoption in the 21st century. We framed these priorities in terms of the system issues that our members have identified through their work with children, families, statutory adoption agencies, and the courts.

CVAA Briefing 21st Century Adoption

In our August 2021 response to the Care Review’s Case for Change, we highlighted welcome elements, such as support for birth parents. We also noted areas that we felt had been missed or underemphasised, such as the way that the interplay between children’s social workers and the courts may be driving a reduction in plans for adoption.

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