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Regional Adoption Agency moves a step closer

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A proposal to create a new regional adoption agency that aims to improve outcome for children in care is moving forward.

At a meeting of the council’s cabinet on Thursday 6 December, councillors will be asked to agree the plan of formally bringing together the adoption services of Dudley Council, Walsall Council, The City of Wolverhampton Council and Sandwell Childrens Trust to form the Regional Adoption Agency, Adoption@Heart.

Councillor Sue Ridney

Although the four authorities have worked together for more than ten years to deliver some adoption services, the new agency will revolutionise the way adoption services are run across the Black Country.

It will combine existing services of all four councils to speed up the adoption process and reduce the amount of time looked after children are in care. The group launched a new website earlier this year as a single point of contact for people considering adopting, and the development of the wider agency is the next step in this significant collaboration.

In September, the Association of Black Country Authorities (ABCA) chief executives group, and the chief executives and leaders group, endorsed proposals in respect of the service design, structure and governance of the Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) to be hosted by the City of Wolverhampton Council on behalf of all four councils.

The new RAA is expected to result in improved permanence planning for children and increased placement choice from a larger pool of adopters. This will enable swifter matching with children and so help reduce the time it takes for a child to be placed with their adoptive family. There will also be a wider range of support services for adoptive families, promoting stability and reducing disruption.

Councillor Sue Ridney, cabinet member for children’s services, said:

This is an ambitious and innovative project which will transform the lives of hundreds of children across the Black Country.
The regional agency will allow us to share staff and resources, reduce the length of time children spend in foster care, give us a larger pool of adopters and allow us to match children to their forever families much faster.
The agency will also be responsible for the extensive and essential adoption support during and after the adoption process. We’re really enthusiastic about this whole project which will help to create hundreds of loving families in Dudley borough and across the Black Country.

There will be a central Hub at Priory Green in Pendeford, owned by City of Wolverhampton Council, with practitioners equipped to work flexibly across the four council areas.

The development of Regional Adoption Agencies (RAA) is part of the national programme to regionalise adoption services. All local authorities are expected to deliver their adoption services through an RAA by 2020. The costs of setting up the RAA are being funded by the Department for Education (DfE) as part of the support available to early adopters of the programme.

To find out more about adoption in the region visit www.adoptionheart.org.uk, call the free phone adoption helpline on 0800 073 0597 or text adoption to 88802.

Notes to editors

  • The agency is being proposed in response to the government’s national programme, which expects all local authorities to adopt a regional agency by 2020. The cost of setting up the RAA is being funded by the Department for Education
  • Last summer, cabinet members approved the establishment of the agency as a Local Authority Traded Company, constituted as a Community Interest Company (CIC) and Company Limited by Shares (CLS). It will be wholly owned by the four authorities
  • Dudley Council staff will TUPE across to the new agency

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