The government’s new adoption strategy, published today, shows it is listening to families and signals a comm
The strategy draws on evidence from Adoption UK’s Adoption Barometer, now in its third year. The Barometer, based on a large annual survey of adopters and adopted people, is listed as one of the government’s tests for success.
CEO of Adoption UK, Dr Sue Armstrong Brown, said: ‘There is much to commend in the government’s new adoption strategy. We warmly welcome the emphasis on listening to the voices of adopted people and adopters. The commitment to giving families the support they need, when they need it, is an important acknowledgement that adoption is only the beginning of healing for children who have experienced trauma. This must mark a revolution in adoption thinking – from simply bringing families together, to ensuring they can thrive.’
The government’s last adoption strategy, which ended in 2019, introduced a new system of Regional Adoption Agencies (RAAs), bringing local authority adoption services together under regional leadership. The intention was to streamline adoption and ‘radically improve adoption support.’ The new strategy has not proposed any new legislation – rather, it gives RAAs increased responsibilities to improve key parts of the adoption system.
Dr Armstrong Brown continued: ‘Much of the success of the strategy relies on the ability of the RAAs to make big shifts in mindset and practice. Without the backing of new legislation, this is a leap of faith. RAAs will need support, challenge, and scrutiny over the coming years in order to deliver the kind of change that will give every adopted child the best chance of a bright future.’
The strategy’s focus on ‘support throughout childhood and the transition into adulthood’ is hugely welcome. It highlights the need for improvements to early help, better support for managing contact with birth families, and calls for national standards for adoption support services.
Adopters will be disappointed not to see more concrete, ambitious ideas for education. The impact of a child’s trauma on their well-being in school and their ability to learn is adopters’ number one concern.
Adoption UK is calling for thorough assessments for every adopted child before they move to their new families, leading to a detailed support plan that considers future as well as current needs, and a duty for adoption agencies to deliver the agreed support. High-quality assessment and good forward planning are the keys to ensuring families can thrive.
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