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									ADOPTION & PERMANENCE




   ANNUAL REPORT




     FOR 2001 - 2002




                       Cambridgeshire
                       County Council
         ANNUAL ADOPTION AND PERMANENCE REPORT

                 CAMBRIDGESHIRE SOCIAL SERVICES

                       1 APRIL 2001 – 31 MARCH 2002

                                  CONTENTS
                                                               PAGE

1.0    PURPOSE                                                  1

2.0    SUMMARY                                                  1

       2.1   Context                                            1
       2.2   Children                                           2
       2.3   Adoptive Families                                  3

3.0    ACHIEVEMENTS                                             4

4.0    STATISTICAL INFORMATION

       4.1   Children needing adoption                          7
       4.2   Children needing permanence/long term fostering    15
       4.3   Disruptions                                        19
       4.4   Adopters                                           20
       4.5   Permanent foster carers                            22

5.0    INTER-COUNTRY ADOPTION                                   23

6.0    ADOPTION AND PERMANENCE PANEL                            25

7.0    POST ADOPTION

       7.1   Section 51 Counselling                             27
       7.2   Support Work                                       28
       7.3   Training                                           29
       7.4   Information                                        29
       7.5   Post-Box Service                                   29

8.0    LEGISLATION/GUIDANCE                                     30

9.0    SUMMARY OF SERVICE DEVELOPMENT ISSUES                    33

10.0   OBJECTIVES FOR 2002 - 2003                               36
 ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE



1.0     PURPOSE

1.1     To outline the achievements, developments and changes in adoption and
        permanent fostering during 2001 – 2002.

1.2     To identify areas requiring further development.

1.3     To identify major goals for 2002 – 2003.

2.0     SUMMARY

2.1     Context

2.1.1   On 1st April 2001 a new countywide Adoption & Fostering Team replaced the
        two existing Fostering & Adoption Teams. A Team Manager for Fostering and
        Adoption and a Policy & Practice Standards Manager for Adoption came into
        post.

2.1.2   Major staff change ensued and it was not until December 2001 that the newly
        appointed Assistant Team Manger for Permanence came into post. Interim
        supervision and managerial arrangements had to be made. For the first half of
        the year reported on, the permanence team functioned at 60% of staffing level for
        Social Workers.

2.1.3   By the autumn of 2001 the Permanence Team had its full complement of Social
        Workers.

2.1.4   In August the Independent Chair of the Adoption & Permanence Panel left to
        undertake an overseas consultancy. A new Chair was appointed and took up
        her post in November 2001.

2.1.5   National Adoption Standards for England were published on 7 th August 2001.
        Cambridgeshire implemented the Standard which was immediately mandatory
        and began to plan for the implementation of the Standards in full.

2.1.6   The Adoption Register for England and Wales was launched on 7th August 2001.
        Cambridgeshire has made full use of the Register although no local matches of
        children and adopters have yet been generated by the Register.




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ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE


2.2     Children

2.2.1   Adoption was recommended by the Panel as in the best interests of 17
        children. This was a reduction from the number considered in the previous
        year (21 reference 4.1.1).

2.2.2   21 children were placed with adoptive families (compared with 26 in the
        previous year, reference 4.1.8). Of these 21, 14 children were already at
        school. Nationally it is acknowledged as very difficult both to identify
        adoptive placements for school age children and to maintain these children,
        who often have complex needs, in their new families. 19 of the 21 children
        were placed in families recommended and approved by Cambridgeshire.

2.2.3   At the end of March 2002 16 children were waiting for adoptive placements
        (25 last year and 33 in March 2000 reference 4.1.19). Work remains to be done
        with 4 of these children prior to placement, 2 are still in legal proceedings, 3
        have been placed and 4 are linked with families.

        Very active family finding continues both in the county, the region and
        nationally to identify families for the remaining 3 children whose age or
        medical needs make it particularly challenging to locate a permanent family
        for them.

2.2.4   The Adoption and Permanence Panel recommended that permanent fostering
        was in the best interests of 11 children. This was a drop from the figure of 21
        in the previous year (reference 4.2.1).

2.2.5   8 children were placed for permanent fostering. 4 of these 8 children were
        placed in families from Independent Fostering Agencies. This is the first time
        Cambridgeshire has placed children for permanence with Independent
        Fostering Agencies and reveals a major change nationally in the provision of
        foster care resources. At the end of March 2002, 14 children were awaiting
        permanent foster placements. 10 of these children have now been placed and
        placements are identified for the other 4.

2.2.6   The placement of 1 child (out of 21) placed for adoption disrupted this year.
        This was a 4 year old girl whose adoption disrupted within weeks of her
        placement when she was rejected by the prospective adoptive mother. The
        national disruption rate is 20% averaged out for children placed at all ages.
        The adoption of a boy of 14 adopted by foster carers 4years previously also
        disrupted. Any disruption is a matter of very serious concern, causes great
        distress to all involved and is a matter for detailed review. 3 permanent
        fostering placements disrupted. These were of boys aged 13, 14 and 15 years.
        In two of these cases foster carers‟ illness was a major contributing factor.
        The third boy wished to return to his birth mother.

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2.3     Families

2.3.1   The number of families approved to be adopters was 19 (compared with 30
        the previous year, reference 4.4.1). This was not due to a lack of families
        coming forward but in a time of staff vacancies, work was focused on placing
        children and maintaining those children in placement rather than on new
        assessments. A major recruitment campaign in the autumn of 2001 was very
        successful in drawing applicants from families interested in adopting children
        up to 8 years old. 8 adoptive families have already been approved in the first
        quarter of the year from 1 st April and a further 19 are in assessment. There
        remains a shortage of applicants from ethnic minorities and applicants
        interested and able to provide placements for children with a disability.
        Permanent foster carers are also needed for older children. Last year only 4
        families were approved as permanent carers and 3 of these were existing
        foster carers offering a permanent placement to specific children who had
        settled well and made attachments in their families. It is encouraging that, in
        the first quarter from 1 st April 2002, 2 new foster families have been approved
        both of whom are offering a permanent commitment to a child of school age.
        Both families are already linked to children.

2.3.2   Six families were approved for inter-country adoptions. This was the same
        figure as in the previous year. 3 families were approved to adopt from China,
        1 from Guatemala, 1 from USA and 1 from Vietnam




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3.0   ACHIEVEMENTS

3.1   2001/2002 has been a busy year in the adoption and permanence service.
      This has been especially so as for almost half the year the service was
      functioning with only 60% social work staffing levels. A permanent full time
      Assistant Team Manager was in post only from December 2001.

3.2   Of the 17 children presented to Panel for whom adoption is in their best
      interests, 11 were placed within 6 months as is expected within the new
      Adoption Standards due to be implemented in April 2003 (some of these have
      been placed since 31 st March 2002). Another child, who needed to be placed
      outside the county, was placed within 9 months. One of the 17 children was
      placed within the extended family on the decision of the Court and further
      assessment is needed before 3 of the children can be placed. Legal
      proceedings are still ongoing in respect of another child.

3.3   A total of 21 children were placed in adoptive families. Of these 12 were
      placed in under 6 months. 14 of the 21 children were of school age. These are
      children for whom on a national level it is acknowledged that finding
      appropriate adoptive families is particularly challenging. The trend of time
      limited carers becoming permanent or adoptive parents continued, ensuring
      the expertise of experienced carers for children with significant difficulties. It
      was agreed that 5 children should remain with their carers for permanent
      fostering and 6 children were matched for adoption with current or previous
      foster carers.

3.4   The number of Adoption Orders is high. In the year 2000/01, 6.9% of
      Cambridgeshire‟s looked after children were adopted. The optimal banding
      in this respect is from 7%. In 2001/02 Cambridgeshire‟s figure is 9.8%. This
      figure is calculated nationally in a slightly different way from in previous
      years. The figure comparable with previous years‟ calculations is 8.4%. This
      is an exceptional figure. In 1999/00 the national average was 4.7%.

3.5   A major recruitment campaign in the local media in the autumn of 2001 led to
      a huge increase in the number of enquiries about adoption. 123 were
      received in the second half of the year just ended, compared with a total of
      167 in the previous year. Many of these families are willing to consider
      adopting children up to 8 years old.

3.6   Of the 19 families newly approved to adopt, 11 were approved for children
      over 5 years old.




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3.7    The reduction in the number of placements needed for pre-school children
       has meant that many families are waiting longer for placement of a young
       child. The number of approved families means that there is a good range
       from which the best match may be chosen for a young healthy child.

3.8    Of the 21 children placed for adoption 19 were placed within
       Cambridgeshire‟s own resources.

3.9    At the end of March 2002 fewer children were awaiting adoptive placements:
       16 as opposed to 25 the previous year.

3.10   Cambridgeshire supplied 3 adoptive families to other Local Authorities for
       inter-agency placements for 4 children. This led to the placement of 3 school
       age children and a pre-school child with considerable developmental delay
       and an uncertain medical prognosis.

3.11   The disruption rate remains very low in Cambridgeshire. Of the 22
       placements made, 1 disrupted (this child has been successfully placed in
       another family). This is an exceptionally low figure especially when the age
       of the children at placement is taken into account. Nationally the disruption
       rate is 20% overall. It is 20% for children aged 5, lower for younger children
       and increases with age. For the cohort of children placed in the last year a
       disruption rate of 4.5% bears testimony not only to the commitment and
       tenacity of our adoptive families but also to the quality of assessments and
       preparation and the work of staff in supporting families when they are under
       pressure.

3.12   A 3-day course for staff across the department (both Social Workers and
       Managers) was provided. This focused on the needs of children requiring
       adoption, the legal framework, the process of planning towards adoption and
       the support needs of families. This course was well received and further on-
       going training will be offered over the next year.

3.13   A new information booklet has been prepared for initial enquirers about
       adoption.

3.14   A new duty arrangement means that this booklet is sent out to all enquirers
       within 1 working day of the initial enquiry.

3.15   Adoption Information Days for enquirers are now held at various venues
       across the county and enquirers invited to such an event within 8 weeks of
       their initial enquiry.


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3.16   The Post Box service, which exchanges information between birth and
       adoptive families, has continued to grow. Now over 160 families are
       involved. A dedicated post box administrator came into post in January 2002.
       A booklet has been prepared for users of the service.

3.17   The Fostering and Adoption Team continue to offer a sensitive service to
       adult adoptees and birth families seeking information and there have been a
       number of reunions arranged and supported by staff.

3.18   Cambridgeshire has made full use of the new Adoption Register for England
       and Wales and by February 2002 details of all approved adoptive families and
       children awaiting adoption in Cambridgeshire had been placed on the
       Register.

3.19   We have been active in the establishment of the East Anglian Adoption
       Consortium comprising 5 Local Authorities and 2 voluntary adoption
       agencies.

       Central government has encouraged agencies to form consortia, which should
       speed the placement of children and enable them to remain within their own
       region, thus reducing some of the impact of the huge transition involved in
       the move to an adoptive family and facilitating ongoing support to child and
       family.

3.20   A joint protocol has been agreed with the team which provides educational
       support for looked after children. This will maximise help and advice from
       education experts to ease the transition when children are being placed for
       adoption.

3.21   The Adoption & Permanence Panel has developed a process whereby
       prospective adopters and permanent foster carers may attend Panel. A
       booklet has been prepared for them. Panel members and Permanence Social
       Workers have been trained in preparation for the new approach to these
       approvals.

3.22   A triennial review of the adoption agency was commissioned and completed
       by BAAF (British Association for Adoption and Fostering). The review of the
       agency‟s work was very positive and action has already been implemented on
       suggested areas for change.




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ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE



4.0     STATISTICAL INFORMATION: CHILDREN

4.1     Children For Whom Adoption Is In Their Best Interests

        (Age criteria are from birthday to birthday ie: 2-4 years is from the 2nd
        birthday up to, but not including, the 5 th birthday)

4.1.1   The year saw a decrease in the number of children presented to Panel (50 in
        1999/2000, 21 in 2000/2001 and 17 in 2001/2002). In 1998/1999 30 children
        had been presented. The low numbers continue to reflect the department‟s
        very careful assessment of and large investment of help in birth families to
        enable them to parent their children successfully. If parents cannot care for
        their children, strenuous efforts are made to arrange for the children‟s needs
        for security and care to be met elsewhere within the extended family. There
        were also a number of children presented to Panel as part of a parallel plan in
        court proceedings thus reducing the possibility of future delay in
        implementing adoption plans where necessary. 1 child presented as part of a
        parallel plan has been placed within her extended family (she is included in
        the overall figures). The number of children adopted as a percentage of
        children looked after for more than 6 months is 9.8% (8.4% of all looked after
        children). This figure of 8.4% compares with 6.9% in 2000/2001 and 8.6% in
        19999/2000 in Cambridgeshire and 4.7% nationally in 1999/2000.


                       Children For Whom Adoption Is In Their Best
                                       Interests

                60

                40                     50
                20        30
                                                    21            17
                 0
                      1998/1999    1999/2000     2000/2001    2001/2002




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ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE



4.1.2   By Age

        The figures show a decrease in numbers in almost all age groups of children.

   AGE        0–11 months     12 – 23 months     2-4 years          5-9 years    10-14 years

1998/1999           6                7                 7               8                2

1999/2000           17               4                 10              18               1

2000/2001           10               0                 4               6                1

2001/2002           5                2                 7               3                0




                                     Children

         20
         18
         16
         14
                                                                            1998/99
         12
                                                                            1999/00
         10
                                                                            2000/2001
          8
          6                                                                 2001/2002
          4
          2
          0
               0-11      12 - 23    2-4         5-9         10-14
              months     months    years       years        years




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        ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE


        4.1.3   By Area

                The numbers across the county are 14 children coming from the areas served
                by Social Services Children and Families Teams for Cambridge, South Cambs
                and East Cambs and 3 from the north of the county. Further analysis of the
                reasons behind these figures is not available but the ready availability of
                Class A drugs in the south of the county impacts severely on the ability of
                many parents to meet the needs of their children.

                In the course of this report the term Cambridge will be used when the
                Cambridge City, South Cambs and East Cambs area is mentioned.
                Huntingdon will refer to the areas served by North West Cambs and St Neots
                Teams and Fenland to the March and Wisbech Team areas.

                       CAMBRIDGE                      HUNTINGDON                         FENLAND
     AGE            City, South Cambs &              North West Cambs &               Wisbech & March
                         East Cambs                        St Neots

                   99/00     00/01       01/02      99/00    00/01    01/02      99/00     00/01   01/02

0 – 11 months       12        4           4           3        3       1            2        3      0

12 – 23 months       2        0           1           1        0       1            1        0      0

2 – 4 years          6        2           6           3        0       0            1        2      0

5 – 9 years          6        6           3           12       0       1            0        0      0

10 – 14 years        1        1           0           0        0       0            0        0      0


                         7
                         6
                                                                        0-11 months
                         5
                                                                        1 year
                         4
                                                                        2-4 years
                         3
                                                                        5-9 years
                         2
                                                                        10-14 years
                         1
                         0
                             CAMBRIDGE        HUNTINGDON    FENLAND


                                              2001 – 2002
                     Figures for children with a best interest decision of adoption



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ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE



4.1.4   By Gender

                                               2001/2002                           2000/2001

             AGE                      Female            Male           Female              Male

        0 – 11 months                    0                 5                3                  7

        12 – 23 months                   1                 1                1                  3

          5 – 9 years                    2                 5                4                  2

         10 – 14 years                   0                 0                1                  0


                                 Children With A Best Interest
                                     Decision Of Adoption

                         8
                         6                                      2001/2002 FEMALE
                                                                2001/2002 MALE
                         4                                      2000/2001 FEMALE
                                                                2000/2001 MALE
                         2
                         0
                              0-11    12-23      5-9    10-14
                             months   months    years   years



4.1.5   By Race

        There were 5 children with white English/African Caribbean heritage. The
        other children were all White UK.

4.1.6   By Sibling Group

        There were two sibling groups presented to Panel (3 in 2000/2001):

        Girl twins aged 2 years
        A girl aged 5, boys aged 3 and 4, a girl aged 1 and a boy under 12 months.
        The plan for these children was to place the eldest girl separately, the 2 boys
        of 3 and 4 together and the 2 youngest together. This was on the basis of
        expert assessment of the relationships existing between the children.




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ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE


4.1.7   Review Of Children Waiting

        The adoption plan for 14 children awaiting adoption was reviewed by the
        Adoption and Permanence Panel. For 11 of these children, it was agreed that
        a permanent fostering placement could be sought. Extensive national
        searches for adoptive families over a significant period had not succeeded in
        identifying appropriate adoptive families for these children. It was
        considered vital that they should be settled as soon as possible in a family
        where they could spend the rest of their childhood. Consideration was given
        to separating 3 sets of siblings and adoption was confirmed as the plan for 3
        children who had experienced previous disruptions. 8 of these children have
        now been placed – four in adoptive placements and four in fostering
        placements.

4.1.8   Matched With Families

        21 children were approved for matching with adoptive families compared
        with 30 the previous year (32 in 1998/99). These figures include children who
        were approved for adoption in previous years, and show their ages at time of
        placement.

        Two children have been matched and placed with families from other
        adoption agencies. The rest of the children have been placed within
        Cambridgeshire.

               0 – 11 months    12-23 months        2 – 4years   5 – 9years   10 – 14 years

Cambridge          2 {3} (11)    2 {3} (1)          1 {2} (6)    7{5} (2)      0 {2} (0)
Huntingdon         1 {3} (1)     2 {1} (1)          0 {1} (3)    2 {2} (2)     0 {0} (0)
Fenland            0 {1} (0)     1 {1} (1)          0 {2} (2)    3 {0} (0)     0 {0} (0)

Previous Years figures shown as follows:
2001 – {} 2000 - ()

4.1.9   Siblings

        3 sibling groups were matched with families:
        Sisters of 9 and 8 and their brother aged 7
        Brothers of 8 and 6
        A sister and brother of 1 year and under 12 months
        Brothers of 7 and 6 were placed in separate families after assessment showed
        that it was not in their best interests to be placed together




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ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE


4.1.10 Foster Carers

       4 children were matched for adoption with their current foster carers. 2
       children were placed with families who had previously fostered them.

4.1.11 Waiting Times Prior To Match

       The National Adoption Standards indicate that normally a child should be
       matched with an adoptive family within 6 months of the end of legal
       proceedings (or within 6 months of a decision that adoption is in the child‟s
       best interest if there are no legal proceedings). Local Authorities are
       expected to meet these standards from April 2003 but to have an eye to them
       in all current work. It will be expected of agencies that 90% of children are
       matched within 12 months.

4.1.12 Of the 21 matched by Cambridgeshire this year, 12 were placed in under 6
       months. These 12 include 4 children of school age 1 of whom attended a
       special school and a child of dual heritage who was placed with a family of
       the same ethnic mix.

4.1.13 9 of the children had waited over a year. The youngest of these children was
       6 and the oldest 9 and they included a sibling group of 2 and a sibling group
       of 3. The agency will find it extremely challenging to place children like this
       within the 6-month timescale. The national picture indicates that older
       children wait longer for adoptive families. Cambridgeshire is prioritising its
       assessment of adopters to focus on the need to place these older children as
       soon as they are ready.

4.1.14 Matched By Race

       Cambridgeshire matched a baby of Asian/White UK heritage with a similar
       family. The best interest decision for this baby had been taken in the year
       2000/2001. Of the 5 children with some African-Caribbean heritage, 1
       returned to her birth family and in March 2002 1 child was still in legal
       proceedings, 2 needed further assessment and 1 was awaiting placement.

4.1.15 Inter-Agency Placements

       The charge for 2001/2002 inter-agency placements between local authorities
       was £10,539. London agencies charge 10% more. The cost of a voluntary
       agency placement was £14,931. There was also an additional charge of
       £2,488 by the voluntary agencies to cover post adoption support to the child
       and family.


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       During 2001/2002 Cambridgeshire provided 3 families to other Local
       Authorities for 2 school age sisters, for 1 school age girl who had experienced
       a previous adoption disruption and for a pre-school boy with significant
       developmental delay and an uncertain prognosis.

       Cambridgeshire had to purchase 2 inter-agency placements: one for a dual
       heritage Asian/White UK baby and another for a girl of school age who had
       experienced an adoption disruption.

4.1.16 Despite good will on all sides, the special arrangements with 2 voluntary
       agencies, which aimed to speed up placements for older children, children
       with disability and children from ethnic minorities did not lead to any
       placements. These arrangements have not therefore been maintained
       especially given the development of the Adoption Register for England and
       Wales and the establishment of a new adoption consortium in the region.

4.1.17 Cambridgeshire is a founder member of the new East Anglian Adoption
       Consortium comprising 4 counties, 1 unitary authority and the 2 voluntary
       adoption agencies in the region – Adopt Anglia (part of Coram Family) and
       Barnardo‟s New Families Project. The consortium aims to provide speedier
       and improved placement choice for children, and to place them in their own
       region with families from other agencies whose working practices have
       become well known to one another. This should lead to enhanced
       cooperation in inter-agency working and better support for children and
       families. A full inter-agency fee will be applicable.

4.1.18 Cambridgeshire has referred all its waiting families and children to the new
       Adoption Register for England and Wales. The Register did not become
       fully operational until April 2002 and so far a good number of enquiries but
       no matches have been generated. It is too early in the life of the Register to
       judge how successful it will be in generating matches for children. At the
       time of writing (July 2002), no children from East Anglia have been matched
       through the Register.

4.1.19 Children Awaiting Adoption

       At the end of March 2002, 16 children were still awaiting adoptive
       placements (25 last year and 33 in the previous year). 6 of these children
       have been waiting over a year for a placement, although 1 of the 6 has been
       in a therapeutic setting and has not been ready for placement with an
       adoptive family.




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       Of the 15 children, 2 are still in legal proceedings, 3 have now (July 02) been
       placed and 4 are linked with families but without a match yet agreed at
       Panel for them. Further assessments are being undertaken with 3 children
       before it is appropriate to place them.

       The 3 other children of the group of 15 are still without adoptive families
       despite being featured in a major local recruitment campaign in autumn 2001
       and also featured in national adoption journals. Active family finding
       continues for them and permanent foster families are also being sought, as
       this would enable them to achieve some degree of permanence even if not
       the legal security which adoption offers.

4.1.20 Adoption Orders

       There have been 29 Adoption Orders made this year, but this number
       includes children placed with their families in previous years. This means
       that 9.8% of the looked after population (looked after for more than 6
       months) were placed for adoption, a figure which placed Cambridgeshire in
       the optimal banding for performance in this area.

4.1.21 Adoption Allowances

       Adoption Allowances were agreed for all but 3 of the 21 children placed for
       adoption. The figures for last year were 16 of 26 and for the previous year 16
       out of 30.

4.1.22 These striking figures reveal the significant psychological or physical
       difficulties (current or potential) of the population of children now being
       placed for adoption. In only two cases were Allowances being paid in order
       to keep siblings together.

4.1.23 3 Allowances have been made “in principle” and focus on the possible need
       of a child for treatment or extra provision in the future.

4.1.24 A further 6 of the 16 Allowances are not actually in payment as
       Cambridgeshire‟s means testing of adoptive families has rendered them
       ineligible for payments at this time.




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 ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE




   4.1.25 Cambridgeshire has welcomed the consultation document from the
          Department of Health “Providing Effective Adoption Support” and will be
          consulting service users and responding to the consultation. Clear guidance
          however, is eagerly awaited from central government following the
          consultation. As part of the review of our level of Allowances,
          Cambridgeshire is participating in a comparison of Adoption Allowances
          paid by members of the consortium.

            Information from these two sources will assist in informing us as we
            consider a further review of our Adoption Allowance Scheme.

   4.2      Children Under 12 Years For Whom Permanence (Long Term Fostering) Is In
            Their Best Interests

            It is the policy of Cambridgeshire to present all children under 12 years of
            age, who are regarded as needing permanent foster placements, to the
            Adoption/Permanence Panel. Children over 12 years are referred to the
            Fostering Panel. The process for best considering the needs of these young
            people is currently under review.

   4.2.1    2001/2 saw a significant decrease in the number of children with a new
            decision that permanent fostering is in their best interest. The figure
            dropped to 11 in 2001/02 from 21 in 2000/01 (17 in 1999/2000 and 13 in
            1998/99)

               0 – 11 months         1 year                   2 – 4 years   5 – 9 years   10 – 14 years

1999/2000            0                     0                        0            12            5
2000/2001            0                     0                        0            12            9
2001/2002            0                     0                        1            6             4



                    14
                    12
                    10                                                      1999/2000
                     8
                                                                            2000/2001
                     6
                     4                                                      2001/2002
                     2
                     0
                          0-11    1 year        2-4          5-9    10-14
                         months                years        years   years



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         ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE


              One of these decisions was revisited later in the year in the light of further information
              about a child and her relationship with her birth family and the plan was altered to
              adoption. Another child‟s needs were considered as part of a parallel plan and at the
              end of court proceedings he returned to his birth family.

              Three other children‟s plans were altered after lengthy national searches to find
              adoptive families for them failed but they could move to (or remain with) families
              willing to make a long-term commitment to them as part of a fostering arrangement.
              One of these children with a change of plan was a boy of two with significant
              developmental delay and medical needs.

    4.2.2     By Area

              The main demand for permanent foster placements came from Cambridge and Fenland.



     AGE                 CAMBRIDGE                                                                    HUNTINGDON                                                    FENLAND


                   99/00     00/01                           01/02                        99/00                            00/01                   01/02    99/00    00/01    01/02

0 – 11 months        0           0                                0                               0                              0                  0         0        0       0

12 – 23 months       0           0                                0                               0                              0                  0         0        0       0

2 – 4 years          0           0                                1                               0                              0                  0         0        0       0

5 – 9 years          4           1                                2                               3                              4                  1         5        7       3

10 – 14 years        5           2                                2                               0                              0                  1         0        7       1


                             8
                             7
                             6
                             5                                                                                                                      0-11 months
                             4
                             3                                                                                                                      12-23 months
                             2
                             1                                                                                                                      2-4 years
                             0
                                                                                                                                                    5-9 years
                                     1999/2000
                                                 2000/2001
                                                              2001/2002
                                                                          1999/2000
                                                                                      2000/2001
                                                                                                  2001/2002
                                                                                                               1999/2000
                                                                                                                           2000/2001
                                                                                                                                       2001/2002




                                                                                                                                                    10-14 years



                                 Cambridge Huntingdon                                                              Fenland


                                                                                                              16
    ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE



4.2.3     By Gender


              AGE           FEMALE                  MALE
          0-11 months         (0) 0                  (0) 0
            1-2 years         (0) 0                  (0) 0
            2-4 years         (0) 0                  (0) 1
            5-9 years         (5) 4                  (7) 2
          10-14 years         (5) 2                  (2) 4

           Last year‟s figures in brackets.



                       8
                       7
                       6                                             Female 2000/2001
                       5                                             Female 2001/2002
                       4
                       3                                             Male 2000/2001
                       2                                             Male 2001/2002
                       1
                       0
                            0-11     1-2     2-4     5-9     10-14
                           months   years   years   years    years




        4.2.4   By Race

                1 Black African girl, 1 boy of White UK/Asian dual heritage and 1 girl of
                White UK/African Caribbean heritage needed long term placements.

        4.2.5   Special Needs

                1 boy had significant development delay and medical needs.

        4.2.6   By Sibling Group

                There were 2 sibling groups of 2:
                2 sets of sisters aged 9 and 10, and 8 and 9 respectively.




                                                      17
ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE



4.2.7   Matched With Families

        Panel approved 8 children for matching, including children from the
        previous year. This is a huge drop from last year when 23 children were
        approved for matching (8 in 1999/2000 and 10 in 1998/1999).

        0-11 months              0
        1-2 years                0
        2-4 years                1
        5-9 years                3
        10-14 years              4


                   5
                   4
                   3
                   2
                   1
                   0
                         0-11        1-2 years   2-4 years   5-9 years   10-14
                        months                                           years




        Last year‟s figures included a sibling group of 5 and a sibling group of 4.
        The figures were particularly high as a number of children were in foster
        homes where it was planned they would stay. No formal decision had been
        taken however and last year saw a major effort to assess and formalise these
        placements.


4.2.8   The spread of ages is significant in considering these figures. The youngest
        child was dual heritage and had significant disability. After an exhaustive
        national search for an adoptive family he was placed in a foster family who
        not only felt able to meet his special developmental needs but also reflected
        his ethnic heritage.

        The 3 children aged 5-9 had all made firm attachments and settled well in
        families, which were initially intended to be bridging placements. The fact
        that their carers were able to make a permanent commitment to them was a
        very positive outcome for these children, especially as 1 of them had already
        experienced a disrupted adoptive placement and was very anxious about the
        prospect of another move. Research emphasises the negative impact on
        children of multiple moves so it is positive for them when a further move
        can be avoided.



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ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE


        2 of the 4 children in the oldest age group were also able to have their
        placement confirmed in foster homes, which had initially been viewed as
        time limited.

4.2.9   4 of the 8 permanent foster placements were with families recruited and
        supervised by Independent Fostering Agencies. This phenomenon reveals
        the growth of the Independent Fostering Agencies who are now offering
        permanent placements and who offer their carers a high level of support and
        good rates of payment. The ongoing cost to Cambridgeshire is typically
        over £600 per week per child to cover the child‟s maintenance, clothing and
        the agency‟s fee. Usually some transport for the child is included in this fee.

        One child‟s bridging placement with an Independent Fostering Agency was
        made permanent and it was possible to place a Black African girl of 12 years
        old with a black family by using the resource offered by an Independent
        Fostering Agency. Another child placed with an Independent Fostering
        Agency was a boy aged 11. The fourth was a 2-year-old boy of dual White
        English/Asian heritage who had significant disability.

4.2.10 Children Still Needing Permanent Foster Placements

        By March 2002 16 children were still waiting for placements. 11 of these
        were from the previous year. 6 of these children have now been placed, 2 are
        still in legal proceedings and possible families have been identified for 7
        more.

        Existing foster carers continue to provide the majority of the permanent
        placements. Most usually these are the carers where the child is already
        placed. Recent research has shown good outcomes for properly planned
        permanent placements and it is known that minimising the number of
        moves children have is in their best interest. Experienced carers become less
        available for time-limited placements, but older children with damaging life
        experiences are given the chance of a successful permanent placement.

        Funding has been obtained to use Independent Fostering Agencies for
        placements for the children waiting. There has also been a decision to focus
        on recruitment of permanent carers for older children offering them higher
        levels of payment and support.

4.3     Disruptions

        Cambridgeshire continues to maintain some extremely challenging
        placements with a small number of disruptions.


                                          19
 ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE



 4.3.1   This year the adoptive placement of 1 child has disrupted. Given the age of
         the children placed and the complexity of the children‟s needs, this is a good
         result when nationally 20% of all adoption placements disrupt before an
         Order is made. 3 placements for permanent fostering have also disrupted.




Age Of Child At Disruption          Length Of Placement           Reason For Disruption
Girl of 4                                 3 weeks              Female prospective adopter
(Adoption)                                                     could not accept child.
Boy aged 13 (permanence)                  3½ years             Sexualised behaviour, illness
                                                               of carer and ensuing
                                                               rejection by carer.
Boy aged 14 (adoption)                     4 years             Serious sexualised behaviour
Boy aged 14 (permanence)                   3 years             Carer‟s serious illness
Boy aged 15 (permanence)                   5 years             Boy‟s wish to return to birth
                                                               family

         In addition, the adoptive placement of a young child placed by another
         agency with a Cambridgeshire adopter ended after 2 weeks when the
         prospective adopter realised the match with her existing disabled child was
         not appropriate.

 4.4     Statistical Information: Adopters

 4.4.1   Approvals Of Adopters:

         There has been a significant drop in the number of people approved as
         prospective adopters during 2000-2001; 19 compared to 30 in 200-2001 and 23
         in 1999-2000 and 20 in 1998-1999. The drop in approvals reflects not a lack of
         applicants coming forward but the fact that for almost half the year the
         permanence team was about 60% staffed. The focus of work was on placing
         children and maintaining children in placement.

                                          Approvals

                   40
                   30
                                                      30
                   20
                            20           23                       19
                   10
                    0
                        1998/1999     1999/2000    2000/2001   2001/2002



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ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE



4.4.2   By Race:

        All the approved adopters were White European.

4.4.3   By Family Composition

        2 single female adopters were approved. The rest were married couples.

4.4.4   By Task

        8 couples were approved for up to 2 children
        6 couples were approved for only 1 child
        1 single woman was approved for a child under 3 years with significant
        disability
        11 of the 19 families were approved for children over 5 years
        5 families were approved for specific named children (e.g. a child already
        known to them) or were previously time-limited foster carers.

4.4.5   Reviews of Approved Adopters

        Until May 2002 Cambridgeshire granted approval to adopters for a period of
        12 months. If a child was not placed within that time, the family‟s approval
        was reviewed by Panel and the Agency Decision Maker.

        The approval of 14 families was reviewed. Approval was renewed for 12
        families and the cases of 2 families were deferred to give time for further
        work to be done. 5 of the newly reviewed families have now had children
        placed. 4 of the families with reviewed approval were able to consider
        school age children, the rest (3) were awaiting the placement of 1 pre-school
        child.

        The frequency of review has been altered as of May 2002. Now approval
        lasts for 2 years unless there is significant change in which case the matter is
        to be reconsidered by Panel and the Agency Decision Maker as soon as the
        new situation has stabilised.




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ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE



4.5     Statistical Information: Permanent Foster Carers

4.5.1   Applications To Foster Permanently

        Only 4 permanent foster carers were approved – compared with 11 last year,
        6 the previous year and 8 in 1998/1999.

              1998/1999       1999/2000        2000/2001       2001/2002



                                       Approvals

        12
        10
         8                                  11
         6        8                                                  Approvals
         4                     6
         2                                                 4
         0
              1998/1999    1999/2000    2000/2001    2001/2002


4.5.2   By Race

        All applicants were White UK.

4.5.3   By Task

        3 families who were previous time limited foster carers were reassessed to
        enable their foster child to remain permanently. Thus they provided
        permanence for children aged 11, 10, 9 and 8 years.




                                          22
ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE



5.0   INTER-COUNTRY ADOPTION

5.1   Cambridgeshire continues to offer a comprehensive service to applicants
      wishing to adopt from overseas. This service is operated by two sessional
      workers.

5.2   The demand for the service remained steady, 6 in 2001/2002, 6 in 200/2001, 9
      in 1999/2000 and 6 in 1998/1999.

      1 single female adopter was approved for a first child from China
      1 single female adopter was approved for a first child from Guatemala.
      1 single female adopter was approved for a first child from Vietnam.
      1 couple were approved for 1 or 2 children from China.
      1 family were approved for a 4 th or 4th and 5th child from China
      1 family were approved for a 2 nd child from USA.

5.3   The significant numbers of single adopters reflects not only the increasingly
      inclusive approach to prospective adopters in the UK but also a flexible
      approach in countries placing children for inter-country adoption. The
      China Centre for Adoption Affairs has this year introduced quotas for the
      UK permitting only 6 single adopters a year. There will not therefore in the
      short term be any increase in the number of single applicants approved to
      adopt from China.

5.4   A group of adopters have undertaken to provide at least twice-yearly events
      for all families who have adopted from other countries. This past year has
      seen a well attended picnic in the summer and a „Chinese New Year‟ party.
      These events are open to prospective adopters and enable them to become
      involved at an early stage when factual information is so important. The
      departmental sessional workers and the Policy & Practice Standards
      Manager/Adoption are also included in these events.

5.5   Most inter-country adopters are also members of Adoption UK who have an
      excellent local group offering support, training and social events. They are
      also involved with other self-help national groups with a special interest in
      inter-country adoption (eg: OASIS and CACH). The Overseas Adoption
      Helpline in North London offers excellent information and training from the
      early stages of enquiry through to post adoption. Cambridgeshire is a
      member and families can make use of its services.




                                        23
ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE


5.6   Applicants are encouraged to attend a Specialist Preparation training course
      in London. This forms part of their assessment.

5.7   After internal consultation and discussion with the national group of
      adoption agency consultants in inter country adoption, Cambridgeshire
      responded at length in February 2002 to the Department of Health‟s
      consultation on the Draft Regulations and Guidance on Implementing the
      Adoption (Inter country Aspects) Act 1999. Pending ratification of the Hague
      Convention was welcomed as well the increased role for the agency in the
      matching process. Concern was however expressed at the expectation that
      local authorities would be able to maintain detailed current information of
      the different requirements of all countries.




                                       24
ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE



6.0   ADOPTION AND PERMANENCE PANEL

6.1   The Panel has met on a total of 18 times during the year (18 in the previous 2
      years also). This included 1 extra-ordinary Panel meeting which was
      necessary in order to enable a young baby to move quickly to his adoptive
      family. On other occasions agendas were lengthy and continued into the
      afternoon. The Panel has the frequency of Panel meetings under close
      review and it will be necessary to increase the frequency of regular meetings
      to provide 21 Panels a year.

6.2   The agency and the Panel had decided last year that they wished to invite
      applicants to attend Panel. The appropriateness of this plan was endorsed
      when the National Adoption Standards published in August 2001 clarified
      that applicants should have the opportunity to attend Panel. Panel is
      committed to this change in order to involve applicants as fully as possible in
      the process of their assessment and approval, to make that process as
      transparent as possible and to give Panel the opportunity of meeting the
      applicants.

6.3   Training during the year focussed on this important development. In the
      autumn, Peterborough Panel was again invited to join the Cambridgeshire
      Panel for training. A BAAF (British Association for Adoption and Fostering)
      trainer and an experienced panel chair who chairs panels in several
      neighbouring authorities led the day.

      There was further training on the topic in the spring when Panel and
      Permanence Social Work Staff prepared for welcoming applicants to Panel.
      This training was led by the Policy and Practice Standards Manager -
      Adoption and the Assistant Team Manager for Permanence. They were
      grateful to an adoptive parent who was willing to participate.

6.4   Careful preparation was made for adopters attending which included visits
      by the Chair, Deputy Panel Chair and Professional Adviser to Panels with
      adopters attending. A booklet has been prepared for applicants and they are
      encouraged to complete a feedback form. Prospective adopters and
      permanent foster carers have been able to attend Panel from 1 st April 2002
      and their feedback will inform future practice and procedures.

6.5   Panel membership changed during the course of the year. A new Fostering
      Social Worker was introduced to replace a Fostering Social Worker who was
      planning to leave the department and the Independent Chair left in August
      to undertake an overseas consultancy.


                                        25
ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE


6.6    A new Independent Panel Chair was appointed and took up her position
       from November 2001. The Panel is working with the agency to maintain and
       develop a high standard of practice in Cambridgeshire‟s adoption work.

6.7    Panel has instituted quarterly business meetings. These have given the
       opportunity not only for Panel to receive updates on children in placement
       and awaiting placement but to discuss such topics as the Adoption and
       Children Bill and the serious case review from Brighton and Hove on the
       tragic death of a child placed for adoption. Panel has been communicating
       closely with the agency as it considers how to respond to the
       recommendations in the report. Panel is also reflecting on its own
       functioning and how that may be improved.

6.8    A quarterly bulletin has just been launched which will give staff in
       Children‟s Services information on the work of Panel, what Panel expects of
       them and celebrate achievements and good practice.

6.9    Panel members had the opportunity to consider the draft review on the
       agency prepared by BAAF.

6.10   Panel intends to seek written feedback from social workers attending Panel
       on a sample basis from July 2002.

6.11   Panel members were also consulted on the Department of Health Draft
       Practice Guidance for Adoption and some Panel members participated on
       the consultation on Inter Country Adoption.

6.12   Panel members look forward to joining with permanence social workers and
       team managers from Children and Families Teams in early November when
       the legal adviser will offer training on the Adoption and Children Bill. Panel
       is eager to share training and co-operation with social work staff as the
       agency and Panel strive to ensure good outcomes for children and a quality
       service for prospective adopters and carers.




                                         26
ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE


7.0       POST-ADOPTION WORK

7.1       Section 51 Counselling

7.1.1     This work is carried out by 1 sessional worker and by a social worker in the
          fostering team with a particular interest and expertise in this area. The
          number of enquiries from adoptees searching for information about their
          birth families has remained fairly constant. There is however an increase in
          the number of birth family members seeking news about their adopted
          children. It is anticipated that as the needs of birth parents are increasingly
          recognised and acknowledged, so this area of work will grow. Some birth
          family members simply wish to leave a contact for the future should the
          adopted person wish to seek them while others want to be more proactive in
          seeking contact.


                         Cambridge, South Cambs               Huntingdon & Fenland
                               & East Cambs
                         98/99 99/00 00/01 01/02          98/99    99/00   00/01   01/02
From adoptees              55    52     55    40            40       28      28      26
From adopters              0     0       0     1            0        2       2        1
From birth parents         1     5       4    10            0        6       2        5
From birth siblings        3     7       5     8            1        3       2        2
From other birth           1     2       2     1            2        1       1        0
relatives

7.1.2     Reunions continue to be assisted by Cambridge and Huntingdon and
          Fenland both of whom are receiving requests for this service. It is an area of
          work, which is time-consuming and complicated, calling for great skill and
          diplomacy in mediating between the various parties and in ensuring
          adequate follow-up and support once the meetings have taken place. It is
          anticipated that this is an area of work, which will continue to grow in order
          to answer the needs of family members to meet. The new policy of
          facilitating birth family initiated contact has led to attempts to contact
          adopted adults on behalf of birth family members. Research tells us that
          requests for reunions initiated by birth family members give outcomes
          equally as good as when the adopted person is the initiator. Within
          Cambridgeshire it is too early to judge if local experience will fit with these
          national findings.

                    Cambridge, South Cambs
                        & East Cambs                    Huntingdon & Fenland
                  98/99 99/00 00/01 01/02             99/00     00/01     01/02
      Reunions      14     9       7     8              3         3          6

                                            27
ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE


7.2     Support Work

7.2.1   Cambridgeshire is a partner in the East Anglia adoption support service,
        Post Adoption Link that is co-ordinated by Barnardo‟s in Colchester. This
        service offers a telephone helpline and counselling by trained counsellors to
        anyone affected by adoption. In addition there are activity days for children
        and support meetings for their adoptive parents held in different venues
        across the region. In addition to publicising these events to our adoptive
        families we have used the Post-box to pass information on Post Adoption
        Link to adoptive and birth families.

7.2.2   Until September 2000 a Support Adopter was provided in Cambridge who
        was available to speak on the phone or to visit adopters wishing for this
        support. In October 2000 the Support Adopter moved from the area and
        thus far she has not been replaced.

7.2.3   An increasing number of requests are being received from families with
        adopted children for help and advice post Adoption Order. These requests
        come not only from families with whom we have placed children but also
        from other adoptive families within the county.

7.2.4   The continuing low level of disruption reflects the amount of time that
        Fostering and Adoption staff give to the maintenance of placements both pre
        and post Adoption Orders. The trend to place older, more challenging
        children, with complex contact needs, increases the need for ongoing help
        and advice. Some of the younger placements are proving to be exceptionally
        challenging and much time is now being given to support all levels of
        placement, particularly in the early days when the risk of disruption is
        highest.

        The National Adoption Standards and the Adoption and Children Bill
        currently being considered by the House of Lords make clear the lifelong
        nature of adoption and will enshrine in law the right to an assessment for
        adoption support services at the request of members of an adoptive family.

7.2.5   Cambridgeshire wishes to strengthen significantly this area of its service.
        Funding has been set aside for this purpose and consultations have been
        held with a voluntary agency with whom it is hoped it will be possible to
        sign a service agreement so that Cambridgeshire families have access to
        stronger support. It is anticipated that in addition a specific post will be
        created to co-ordinate and develop support services.




                                          28
ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE



7.2.6   Discussions will be held with partner agencies, as it is clear that multi-
        agency services are needed by families coping with children with very
        complex needs.

7.3     Training

        The training posts at both ends of the County were filled during the year and
        a full range of training was offered. Four Preparation Courses were run by
        permanence staff and an Impact of Abuse course was held.

7.4     Information

7.4.1   The Home Finder magazine was re-launched as Lessons for Life and is sent
        to all foster carers and adopters with children placed for adoption.

        Families are also sent information on training and social events.

7.5     Post-Box Service

7.5.1   The referral rate to this service, which provides an exchange of
        photographs/information between birth families and adoptive families via
        the department, continues to increase. There are over 160 families involved.
        Almost every child now placed for adoption has post-box contact with a
        variety of members of his/her birth family.

7.5.2   A post box administrator was appointed and began work in January 2002.
        She has a developed a booklet for families using the service. The service has
        also been a means of disseminating information on Post Adoption Link (a
        post-adoption-service) to birth families and adoptive families.




                                           29
ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE



8.0   LEGISLATION/GUIDANCE

8.1   Further to the implementation of the Department of Health‟s circular:
      Achieving the Right Balance, LAC 98 (20), the Department has continued to
      stress the importance of adoption as a positive option for some children.

8.2   Young children were presented to the Adoption Panel at an early stage when
      parallel plans in court proceedings had been pursued. By pursuing a
      parallel plan for adoption or permanence at the same time as still actively
      working to attempt a child's rehabilitation to his/her birth family, delay was
      reduced for children. In cases where the department reached the conclusion
      that it could not recommend rehabilitation, then the work had been done for
      a plan for adoption or permanence to be brought immediately to the panel
      for consideration.

8.3   For younger children under 5 years, matches with prospective adopters have
      been made quickly and appropriately. For older children, family finding has
      remained rigorous and funding is secured to enable inter-agency placements
      to be purchased. The national shortage of families for children over school
      age inevitably leads to delay in the placement of these children even when
      specific funding is available. Cambridgeshire has however, been pleased
      this year to place 13 school age children within our own resources.

8.4   The National Adoption Standards for England were launched on 7th August
      2001. These were disseminated within the department and Review
      Managers have since that date been establishing a plan for permanence at the
      review held 4 months after children become “looked after” and clarifying
      timescales to achieve that plan.

8.5   The Standards will not be fully implemented until April 2003 but already we
      are aiming to work within the timescales set by them. Enquirers receive
      written information within 1 working day and are invited to an information
      day within 2 months. Decisions after Adoption Panel are made and
      communicated within the required timescales. Applicants are given the
      opportunity to attend panel.




                                        30
ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE




8.6   After widespread consultation with departmental staff and panel members a
      detailed response was given to the Draft Practice Guidance on the National
      Adoption Standards. While the guidance was welcomed, further guidance
      was requested in some areas such as matching children and families.
      Permission to prioritise assessments of applications was welcomed and clear
      messages are now being given to enquirers about Cambridgeshire‟s current
      assessment priorities based on the needs of children awaiting adoption. The
      final Practice Guidance is now eagerly awaited, as this should give clearer
      guidance on the timescales for assessments. The import of the Serious Case
      Review about a child‟s death in Brighton and Hove is that fuller and more
      stringent checks should be made on applicants. It is hard to see how the new
      tight timescales can be achieved if these checks and also training are all to be
      completed within the specified period for assessment.

8.7   On August 7th 2001 LAC Circular (2001) 21 launched the Adoption Register
      for England and Wales. Cambridgeshire chose to be in the second phase of
      authorities putting details of waiting children and families on the Register
      and all children and families were registered by 28 th February 2002.

8.8   On 22 March 2002 LAC (2002) 5 brought the initial phase of the Register to
      an end. New improved referral forms and clear instructions were welcomed,
      as was guidance on consent to being on the Register. Cambridgeshire is now
      adding details of approved families to the Register as soon as they are
      approved. Similarly details of children are being added once legal
      proceedings are complete.


8.9   Following consultation with those working with adopted adults and their
      families, feedback was given to Department of Health on the Draft Standards
      and Practice Guidance for Work with Adopted Adults and Birth Siblings.
      Standards and Guidance were welcomed, but the needs of other members of
      birth families and their right to a service was emphasised.




                                        31
ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE


8.10   Inter Country Adoption Staff and some panel members discussed the
       lengthy document on Draft Regulations and Guidance for inter country
       adoption and gave feedback. Guidance in this very complex area of work
       was welcomed although concern was experienced at the detailed current
       information on all countries, which a Local Authority would be expected to
       hold. Once delays in ratifying the Hague Conventions are overcome,
       departmental staff will be keen to attend the training on new procedures
       which the Department of Health has promised.

8.11   At the time of writing (July2002) the document “Providing Effective
       Adoption Support” has just been received. Service users and staff will be
       consulted and feedback given by 20 th September 2002.

8.12   The progress of the Adoption and Children Bill through parliament has been
       carefully followed. Senior managers in the department have liaised with
       local Members of Parliament on its progress. It has been positively viewed
       that adopted adults‟ right to their birth records is not now to be restricted. It
       has been emphasised that adoption is a service for children and not for
       adults and that the greatest flexibility possible is needed in the search to find
       safe, secure, loving families who can meet their needs.

8.13   Adoption training courses for staff have been provided, which have aimed to
       increase the legislative knowledge base of social workers involved in the
       adoption process.

8.14   Training on the Adoption and Children Bill has been included in the training
       course on adoption for social workers and their managers. A morning‟s
       training on the Bill is planned for adoption social workers and panel
       members. It is recognised that implementation of the changes contained in
       the Bill will bring fundamental change to adoption procedures and early
       discussion has taken place with our training section.

8.15   The establishment of some County Courts (2 in this area) as Adoption
       Centres has been welcomed. It is hoped that this change will reduce legal
       delays. There remains serious concern however over legal delays which
       occur for children during Care Proceedings, and this matter will be pursued
       with the Adoption and Permanence Taskforce who have accepted an
       invitation to come and offer advice and guidance and will be spending time
       in the department in the Autumn of 2002.




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ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE



9.0   SUMMARY OF SERVICE DEVELOPMENT ISSUES

9.1   The National Adoption Standards require, and this report has evidenced, that
      there is demand on the service in particular.

                To recruit, assess and prepare adequate numbers of appropriate
                 families to meet the needs of older children, children with serious
                 disability, and children from ethnic minorities.
                To provide adoption support services to adoptive families not only
                 until the making of an Adoption Order but as a lifelong
                 commitment.
                To provide independent support for birth families.
                To liase with partner agencies so that multi agency support
                 services are available.
                To provide varied training courses to enable carers to meet the
                 needs of the children and in the provision of training for staff and
                 Panel members.
                To develop timely plans for children requiring adoption, in line
                 with government guidance
                In direct work with children in preparation for placement.

9.2   The permanence team within the Fostering and Adoption Service has faced
      considerable pressure due to staff vacancies. For half of the reported year the
      team was functioning at only 60% strength. In addition until December 2002
      the key post of Assistant Team Manager/Permanence remained unfilled and
      various interim measures had to be put into place for supervision of staff.
      Against this background and major organisational change, placement
      numbers have been maintained and children and their families have been
      supported in placement leading to an increased number of Adoption Orders.

9.3   Against a national picture of shortage of qualified and experienced Social
      Workers, it has been possible to fill all vacant posts. Reorganisation has
      meant that 2 teams on 2 sites have now become 1 team on 2 sites. This is
      leading to greater consistency of service but providing challenges in the
      building of a new team‟s identity and function.

9.4   The recruitment campaign in October 2001 has led to a huge increase in
      prospective adopters and permanent carers coming forward. The new team
      is responding to this. In the first quarter of the year from 1 st April, 10 families
      were approved and 19 assessments are currently under way. As many of
      these families are willing to consider children up to 8 years old, this should
      lead to speedier placements in line with government guidance.

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     ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE



     9.5   Success in recruitment means that Cambridgeshire has families available who
           are offering a resource to children from other Local Authorities. Planning for
           inter agency placements, often at a considerable distance, is complex and
           time consuming.

     9.6   The smaller numbers of young healthy children needing adoption means that
           some families approved for such children face lengthy waits. During this
           time of frustration and disappointment they need support and reassurance
           and often review at Panel. Similarly families who cannot be prioritised for
           assessment need supportive contact with the service and clear messages
           about their position and other options for them.

     9.7   With adoption recognised as a valuable outcome for many children and a
           local and national shortage of families especially for children with major
           physical and psychological difficulties and from ethnic minorities,
           identification of such families remains a major challenge. Staff are very
           positive about working with other agencies and maximising use of the
           Adoption Register for England and Wales and the East Anglian Consortium
           but such work requires major time investment often with little response.

     9.8   Post adoption support and services remain an area requiring service
           development. Research emphasizes how vital regular, ongoing support is to
           new placements, and how the ability to call upon help whenever needed in
           the future enables families to cope with difficult challenging behaviours,
           which might otherwise lead to disruption. Record numbers of placements
           from previous years, and difficult ongoing contested adoption proceedings
           all need a high level of service which Fostering and Adoption Teams are
           finding hard to meet. There is a vital need for a more comprehensive
           Adoption Support Service in Cambridgeshire highlighted and confirmed as a
           necessity for adoption services in the recent guidance from the Department of
           Health, LAC (98) 20, the BAAF reviews of 2000 and 2002 and reinforced in
           the Prime Minister‟s review of adoption and the new National Adoption
           Standards and the Adoption and Children Bill. When the Standards are fully
           implemented, adoptive families will have a right to an assessment of their
           need for multi-agency adoption services. Active work is ongoing to establish
           an appropriate service for families in Cambridgeshire.
adoption
     9.9   There is now designated training for adoption and fostering in the
           Departmental programme and it is planned that this will be an ongoing
           programme in every year.



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ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE


9.10   Planning for kinship (relative and friend) placements on a permanent basis is
       essential. Assessments of kinship carers to provide permanent care for
       children unable to live with their birth parents are largely undertaken by area
       teams. It is agreed that this area of work should become the responsibility of
       the Fostering and Adoption Team, but the transfer of work to Fostering and
       Adoption is subject to staff resources being available to meet this workload.
       The transfer should lead to increased consistency of practice.

9.11   The British Association for Adoption and Fostering undertook the triennial
       Review of the adoption agency‟s functions in Spring 2002. Key
       recommendations concerning service developments are incorporated in the
       objectives for 2002/2003.




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ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE




10.0    Objectives for 2002-2003

10.1    To maintain current placements and ensure a continued low level of
        disruption.

10.2    To maintain an appropriate recruitment strategy for prospective adopters,
        looking especially for new ways of encouraging applicants from ethnic
        minorities.

10.3    To recruit and to develop appropriate support packages for permanent foster
        carers for older children (over 7 years old).

10.4    To develop robust adoption support services to meet the needs of adopted
        children and their new families.

10.5    To work with partner agencies to develop their contribution to these support
        services.

10.6    To contribute to the development of the newly established East Anglian
        Adoption consortium so that children can be placed speedily and kept within
        their own region.

10.7    To continue to make full use of the Adoption Register.

10.8    To establish management information services, which can easily indicate the
        agency‟s performance as, measured against the required standards.

10.9    To establish a tracking system to ensure that planning for children is moving
        forward as would be expected within the Adoption Standards.

10.10   To seek advice and guidance from the Adoption and Permanence Taskforce
        especially in respect of 10.4, 10.5, 10.8 and 10.9. To develop a work plan
        based on their advice.

10.11   To maintain and support the area social workers, their managers and
        administrative staff in the need to bring children to panel within parallel
        planning in order to avoid delay in placement. To provide guidance on the
        preparation work needed for children in transition.

10.12   To establish a system for birth families to have access to an independent
        support worker as required by the Adoption Standards.


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    ANNUAL REPORT ADOPTION/PERMANENCE


     10.13    To prepare printed local information for adopted adults, their birth families
              and their adoptive families.

     10.14    To prepare written information for approved adopters on the process from
              approval to placement of a child.

     10.15    To comment to the Department of Health on the recently published
              consultation on “Providing Effective Adoption Support”.




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