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New government white paper outlines further changes to adoption support
The Department for Education published a policy paper at the end of March giving more details of planned reforms to the adoption system between now and 2020. The paper, Adoption – A Vision for Change highlights how it will address unexpected falls in adoption decisions and reduce the time children wait to be adopted and improve the level of support on offer to adopted children and their families.
- An increase in the Adoption Support Fund (ASF) in 2016-17 to £21m and £28m in 2017-18, with further increases promised.
- The extending of support to Special Guardians caring for children who were previously looked after (from April 2016).
- Increased support for adopted young people up to the age of 21 (from April 2016).
- Allowing children adopted from other countries via intercountry adoptions to use the ASF (from April 2016).
- Legislation to expand the role of Virtual School Heads and to help designated teachers support children who have left care under an adoption order (see previous article)
- Ensuring that all local authorities become part of a Regional Adoption Agency with up to £14m available across 2016-18 to support their formation
- A new development programme to support best practice amongst social workers
- The setting up of an expert group to advise the Department for Education and Department for Health on new care pathways for adopted and looked after children.
The paper outlines the importance of adoption agencies in ensuring the RAAs are successful in their practice, innovation, and whole-process redesign: Given their longstanding specialist expertise and history of successful innovation and excellence, we want VAAs to lead the way in ensuring practice excellence is at the heart of the move to RAAs, and we will support them to do so.
The paper also reiterates the importance of co-production and listening to the adopter voice, stating that they have established an expert advisory group specifically to inform adoption support policy. Importantly, they specifically mention working with After Adoption’s TALKadoption groups to help inform policy and future developments.
The full report can be viewed here.