Brent Adoption Report Six Monthly Report: 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022
To provide a briefing in relation to the adoption performance data for 1 October 2021 to 21 March 2022, including the progress and activity of Adopt London West and how good outcomes are being achieved for children.
The purpose of this report was to provide a briefing to the Corporate Parenting Committee in relation to adoption performance data for 1 October 2021 – 31 March 2022, the progress and activity of Adopt London West (ALW), and how good outcomes were being achieved for children. Debbie Gabriel (Adopt London West) drew the Committee’s attention to some key points of the report, detailed as follows:
- 21 adopters were approved in 2021-2022. 47% of those were from Black or Mixed Ethnicity households.
- There was a
general support offer to families and also targeted support and
specialist support. Adopters also received newsletters and invites
to the whole family for training opportunities.
- Specialist support included helping adults access their adoption records, specific counselling, reunification, or for families struggling with very young children’s behaviour management.
- Social workers made applications for support for families to receive specialist therapeutic support through the Adoption Support Fund, with 58 applications made for Brent families.
- Special guardianship support was available, and one of Brent’s special guardians acted as an advocate for special guardians. This special guardian co-facilitated a special guardianship support group and a small grant had been made available to the group to co-ordinate ‘chill and chat’ sessions which were more informal, regular catch-ups that were easy to access. The first special guardianship forum would take place the following week and senior managers had been invited to attend this to hear directly from special guardians in Brent.
work continued across ALW.
- The Partnership Board had now agreed a partnership with ‘Kinship’, a national organisation leading on advocacy support and training for special guardians.
- The Black Adoption Project had started, and was planned in various stages. The first phase involved data collection to enable ALW to better understand the experience of Black children in care and adopters. For this, a survey had been conducted to seek the views and experiences of Black families, which would then be analysed by the Steering Group which had been established as part of the project’s governance process.
- ‘We are Family’ was a peer support adoption agency that ALW worked closely with. They delivered a Webinar programme online for adopters fortnightly and hosted a podcast series in partnership with ALW which had proved popular.
The Chair thanked Debbie for her update and invited comments and questions from those present, with the following issues raised:
The Committee queried what the most challenging factor for adopters was going forward. They heard that age was not a challenging factor, but the issue of adopters understanding that the needs of adoptive children were different continued to be a challenge for ALW and all adoption agencies. ALW were producing materials to help people understand in more detail the needs of adoptive children, for example through the ALW animation video on their website.
The Committee asked whether there was any possibility of crossover work between the Black Adopters Project and Brent’s Black Community Action Plan (BCAP). The Chair highlighted that one of the 9 priorities the Youth Advisory Group of the BCAP had established over the 10 year implementation programme was family relationships, so believed there was some connection between the projects that could be explored. The Youth Advisory Group could link with ALW about this. The BCAP Programme Co-ordinator could also link in to the work and officers would provide the Co-ordinator with information about the ALW project.
Regarding the national issues with delays and speed of adoptions, the Committee queried whether there should be concern locally, highlighting the slow speed of some of the adoptions listed in the report. Debbie Gabriel advised that, regionally and nationally, more cases were being delayed due to birth parents appealing. The court process for appeals was very complex which contributed to the delay. Statistical analysis with neighbours was difficult due to the complexity of the adoptive cohort, and as the number of adoptive children in ALW was relatively small, this skewed the average and made it appear there were more delays than there necessarily was. It was acknowledged that it was right that parents were offered additional assessments and had strong advocacy to explore all options before adoption was decided as the final care plan. Nigel Chapman (Operational Director Integration and Improved Outcomes, Brent Council) added that, as the Agency Decision Maker, he saw speed once the court decision was received. Onder Beter added that Brent had never been limited to in-house adopters as an option, and the Council continued to look beyond Brent and nationally to search for adopters. He also added that the national data published in relation to speed of adoptions was outdated.
The Committee were advised that 51 families were currently receiving social worker support, where some of those families may have an Adoption Support Fund service, but not necessarily all of them. There had been a small improvement in the number of applications made, and as the ALW offer of services increased slightly it may be that not all families required an Adoption Support Fund service, but where they did applications were made very swiftly.
i) To note the report.