[To receive the Adoption Service Interim Report for Adoption@Heart.]
Mark Tobin, Head of Service for Adoption at Heart presented the Adoption Service Interim Report and highlighted salient points.
It was noted that the report jointly covered the full year 2019 - 2020 and the interim period of six months 1 April to 30 September 2020 and it was highlighted that the data and information within the report was accurate as of 30 September 2020. The interim report would normally have been presented separately to Corporate Parenting Board in the summer, however meetings had temporarily been stood down due to COVID.
The report provided detail of the performance and progress made by the new Adoption @ Heart service.
It was noted that since the first lockdown restrictions back in March 2020, effective ICT support from the Council had enabled the workforce to work successfully from home operating an almost fully virtual service (excepting the occasional face to face meeting when safe and necessary).
COVID had caused some delays to adoption proceedings moving through the courts, therefore this year’s final adoption figures were predicted to be slightly lower than in previous years, although hearings had resumed from September 2020. It was noted that adoption numbers had reduced nationally since 2017.
It was noted that a great deal of interest had been generated and more people were keen to register interest although a campaign was planned for the autumn to reach out to an even wider audience. It was intended to inform the public and dispel any myths surrounding adoption that may have discouraged people in the past.
It was commended that the four authorities across the Black Country that made up Adoption@ Heart attempted to place children and young people as close as possible to where they were born or spent the early part of their lives as well as endeavouring to keep sibling groups together wherever possible. It was highlighted that these factors, amongst others, sometimes meant the process took longer but it was acknowledged that the priority was to get the placement absolutely right for each child. It was clarified that if keeping a sibling group together was not possible, every effort was made to keep those siblings in regular contact with each other.
It was noted that no formal analysis had taken place however, in some cases, people had expressed an interest but it then became apparent that uncertainty surrounding COVID or around their job security meant that they didn’t want to proceed as that time. It was suggested that contact be maintained in case a change in circumstances meant they could proceed with joining the adoption pool. It was suggested that a campaign could be launched around the lifting of lockdown to attempt to reignite interest or that Radio Wolves could be used as a platform to reach out to inform that adoptions were still taking place.
2. That Corporate Parenting Board note progress made by the Regional Adoption Agency.