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Written Statement - Securing the Future of Adoption and Fostering Services following the closure of British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF)

Mark Drakeford, Minister for Health and Social Services

Members will be aware that the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) went into administration on 31st July.  BAAF Cymru provided important services to support adoption and fostering in Wales, including running the Wales Adoption Register and the statutory independent review mechanism

As soon as we became aware of the plans for BAAF Cymru to close, we negotiated with the administrators to ensure services remained stable for an additional five weeks beyond the closure date.  During this period we promoted a robust new structure that builds on BAAF Cymru’s expertise across a range of services and activities.  BAAF Cymru staff continued to provide these services until the day of closure on 4th September so there has been no interruption in services.

Under the new arrangements we have put in place, the National Adoption Service is now running the Wales Adoption Register.  Relevant BAAF Cymru staff have transferred to the National Adoption Service to continue to carry out this work. The National Adoption Service shares our goal to strengthen and improve the register.  I see these new arrangements as a step towards making it even more effective and easier to use.

The independent review mechanism (IRM) will now be run by Children in Wales.  The IRM reviews decisions about fostering and adoption applications, and considers adoption disclosure applications.                              

Training, consultancy, legal advice and an advice line for the public and professionals will be run by a new body set up by the St David’s Children Society, to be known as the Association for Fostering and Adoption Cymru @ St David’s.  The new body will offer a knowledge hub, providing learning resources that will promote and reflect best practice.  Its services, resources and publications will be closely tailored to Welsh priorities and circumstances.  The service will recruit from former BAAF Cymru staff.

The new arrangements will strengthen and secure the future of the adoption and fostering services which BAAF Cymru provided, as well as securing jobs for staff employed by BAAF Cymru and capitalising on their skills and expertise.  
I am confident they will lead to improved services and I want to put on record my thanks to the staff and organisations involved for working with us to achieve such a positive outcome.  Together we have put in place effective arrangements to help support the most vulnerable children and young people in Wales.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.