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Regional adoption agency to be set up
A Regional Adoption Agency covering Liverpool, Knowsley, Sefton and Wirral is set to be established.
It follows a successful bid to the Government last year by local authorities on Merseyside to create a new organisation to get more children placed successfully as quickly as possible.
The new agency – set to be launched in January 2018 – will bring together a team of around 50 staff from across the four councils who will be seconded into the new organisation on their existing terms and conditions.
Responsibilities will include recruitment, approval and ongoing support for adopters, tracking, linking and matching of children and the training and development of staff.
Although the Regional Adoption Agency will have a centralised hub, staff will continue to have a presence in each of their local authority areas to ensure they retain close links with social work staff.
Every year, the four local authorities approve around 100 adopters each year and place approximately 140 children for adoption.
Councillor Joan Lilly, Knowsley Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “Adoption really can change a child’s life so I’m delighted that the Regional Adoption Agency could offer greater opportunities for children in our region.
“Having shared resources, expertise and processes will provide enormous benefits to our children and young people, as well as the local authorities taking part.”
Councillor Barry Kushner, Cabinet member for children’s services in Liverpool, said: “This proposal will mean we are able to provide a better service for children and adopters.
“At the moment each local authority is effectively competing with each other for adopters and there is a great deal of duplication of effort.
“By creating a regional agency, we will be able to widen the net of potential adopters, share expertise and ideas and make sure adopters and children get a consistent level of support, regardless of where they live.
“This shows the potential of working across authorities and further collaboration on residential care, fostering and leaving care.”
Councillor John-Joseph Kelly, Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Safeguarding at Sefton Council, said: “In Sefton, we are currently looking for adoptive families for 16 local children and young people. We know that we often receive enquiries from across the Liverpool City Region, so it makes sense that we are collaborating with our neighbours to meet the challenges we face together and increase the potential for our vulnerable children to find a forever family.
“I’m looking forward to this new regional adoption agency making the process for would be adopters quicker and more effective as both they and children in Sefton and the wider region are matched so they begin their new family life.”
Councillor Tony Smith, Cabinet member for children and family services in Wirral, said: “Finding the right, most appropriate and loving adoptive parents for a child is incredibly important. Wirral is lucky to have hundreds of foster carers and prospective adopters across the borough, all doing a fantastic job in supporting vulnerable children.
“The proposals in this report help us go even further, and create a regional adoption agency – allowing access to a bigger pool of adopters, quicker and more efficient processes and, crucially, a much better chance of matching a child with the perfect adoptive family.”
Consultation has already taken place with staff and trade unions, and adopters are also being kept informed.
Reports recommending the approval of the Regional Adoption Agency will be considered by each council’s Cabinet over the next few weeks, with Wirral Council the first to do so on Monday 27 March.