Agenda item

Adoption Partnership South East, Regional Adoption Agency, Annual Report 2021

The RAA Annual Report attached (Annex A) provides information and an overview of the service, performance set against government targets and service and practice development for the period November 2020 – October 2021.




The Head of Service from the Adoption Partnership South East introduced the Annual report which detailed activities following the launch of the Adoption Partnership in November 2020.


Members then raised several questions and comments, which included:


  • RAA Model – it was asked what the likelihood was of the Model being a success and what was being done to manage variations in outcomes between the partnership. The officer responded that information from the National research undertaken to date indicated that the RAA Model was proving to be successful. The DfE had provided time limited funding to support a national strategy team, to ensure practice development and consistency across RAA’s and around the country.


  • Difference in the child level data - Regarding the three local authorities in this RAA, Kent was the largest and this would attribute to differences in data. At the point of going live, there was a significant number of Medway children who had an adoption plan, who had now been placed over the last 12 month.


Nationally the number of adoption orders had reduced, partly due to delay in court proceeding due to Covid. This had resulted in a significant number of children in adoption placement awaiting adoption orders, who were waiting longer than they would have done previously.


  • Recruitment of adopters- it was asked what was being done to encourage local families to come forward to ensure children could be placed with locally.  The officer responded that 96 children had been placed over the last 12 months and all but four had been placed through the RAA. Most enquirers were from regional adopters, although the RAA still attracts potential adopters from neighbouring local authorities. The aim of the recruitment strategy was to recruit adopters based on the needs of the children. There was good representation across the region of prospective adopters.


  • Budget -it was noted that there had been an underspend which had been moved forward to the operational budget for 21/22 and clarification of the underspend was sought. The Committee was informed that there had been several contributing factors to the underspend such as the partnership going live part way through a financial year, inherited vacancies and savings made such as on room hire which could be costly, due to Panel meetings being held virtually. Regular meetings took place with finance leads with reports to the Partnership Board to discuss what to do with the underspend and what proportion could be returned to each LA. Caution was being taken as the partnership went live during the pandemic, there remained some unknowns and there was a balance to be struck going forward.


  • Court delays - The Pandemic had resulted in Court backlogs which led to a reduction in Court Orders. As restrictions began to lift, it was anticipated that there may be a surge in demand, and it was asked what mitigation was in place to manage demand. The officer stated that they had been working closely with Child in Care Service Managers and Group Managers in each local authority through monthly tracking meetings and engaging in early conversations with children in care teams to plan where possible.


  • Resources and Areas of Improvement- in response to questions on resourcing and areas of improvement identified, the officer said that the initial year was concentrated on becoming one service. There had been a lot of support from the three LA’s, with the Partnership Board  utilised as a constructive arena for feedback and learning. There had been a lot of work undertaken to ensure that the service was consolidated with staff retained and where necessary recruitment taken place. Meetings would continue to be held with service managers to focus on practice development which would include, training, workshops and one to one support.


  • Meetings – in response to a question on return to in person meetings, the officer said that a blended approach was taking place. Reassurance was given that meeting with prospective adopters, introductions between foster carers and adopters and work with children in the adoption process was being undertaken, in a way that met the needs of children and families and in line with regulations.


The Director of People, Children and Adults Services added that the Regional Adoption Agency has been a success to date, Medway had benefitted from the other two LA’s in the partnership who held good and outstanding Ofsted ratings.  She also confirmed that adoption was highly regulated as all involved had to ensure that the decisions made were in the best interest of the children involved.




The Committee agreed to Note the report.


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