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Written Statement - Adoption support services in Wales

Carl Sargeant, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children

Since the National Adoption Service was launched just over 2 years ago, we have seen the waiting time for looked after children to be placed for adoption fall from an average of 16.5 months in 2014-15 to 15.2 months by the end of 2015-16. Alongside this success, the number of adopters recruited has increased, timeframes for approval are reducing and the National Adoption Service is recruiting adoptive parents specifically for those children who wait the longest.

We do not underestimate the challenges that adoptive families can face. Some, but not all, will require support after an adoption order has been made. From research we commissioned by Cardiff University on adoption support and Bristol University on adoption disruption we know that when support is required it needs to be timely, accessible, appropriate, informed, compassionate and professional. Good quality adoption support helps to offset the need for more intensive services later on and can prevent an adoption from disrupting.

The Welsh Government provided funding of £110,000 during 2015-16 to the National Adoption Service to undertake a programme of work to further develop a strategic approach to adoption and adoption support services in Wales. As a result, the National Adoption Service has produced a ‘Framework for Adoption Support’ which sets out an action plan for the development and implementation of this model across Wales. In line with the approach taken more generally under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act, this framework adopts a 3-tiered approach to accessing services, depending on the level of need for support. The 3 levels of service to be offered to adopters and their families are:

  • universal services: offering advice, provision of a newsletter and support groups
  • targeted mainstream services (streamlining access for assessments and provision of health and mental health services; parenting courses with a focus on developing attachment and parenting children who have had early trauma)
  • therapeutic services.

To support the implementation of the framework and the delivery of our manifesto commitment to continue to strengthen the National Adoption Service, I announced during National Adoption Week funding of £90,000 to the National Adoption Service in 2016-17 to carry out a scoping exercise to map the needs, demand, costs and the level of current service availability within each of the 3 tiers. This will give us a clear evidence base for continued development of adoption support services in future years.

The funding is also being used to support some specific work stands, including the development of a new approach to life-journey work and revising how adoption support assessments are undertaken. In addition, the National Adoption Service has been working closely with young adopted people to develop age-appropriate information about adoption support and to ensure that it is available for adopted children and young people in ways that they wish to receive it.