West Sussex Adoption is working in partnership with Brighton and Hove, East Sussex and Surrey Local Authority Adoption Agencies to develop Adoption South East. The aim of this regional partnership is to share resources and expertise so that 80% of Adoption South East children are placed within the region, with increased choice of adopters, reduced waiting times and more successful adoptions.
This indicator has increased by 6 days over the past month due to a small number of children with significant needs who had spent a considerable time in foster care and then with their adopters prior to adoption orders being granted. Further detail will follow in the quarterly update.
Quarter 3 - December 2017
The average time between a child entering care and moving in with their adoptive family has increased in the last quarter to 483.3 days. This increased timescale can be attributed to two children with adoption care plans who were adopted in Quarter 3: Child 1 is a child with special needs who was placed for adoption out of county after a long search; her prospective adopters then separated which led to delinking, then are assessment of adoptive mother as a single adopter took place prior to an Adoption Order being granted. Child 2 experienced delays in being placed for adoption due to his additional needs. He had been looked after for 2 years before a Placement Order was granted. He was older when he was placed for adoption; there were concerns around presenting behaviours indicating early trauma and a 4 year gap between placement and adoption because of these needs.
There are currently 35 children in adoptive placements pre Adoption Order. Based on the likelihood of Adoption Orders for 15 of these children being granted within the next quarter, the prediction is that this measure will decrease to around 465 days by the end of the year which will make the year end prediction Amber.This will improve progress towards the target of 426 days by the end of March 2019.
Quarter 2 - September 2017
There is a 461.73 days average for the children on Placement Orders from entering care to being placed for adoption; this evidences that West Sussex is placing children in a timely manner; the performance against this indicator in the previous quarter was 466.7 days, and remains lower than the national average which is 532 days. The adoption team continues to prioritise linking children with adopters in a timely manner, and have responded flexibly to the increased demand for family finding due to the continued increase in Placement orders for West Sussex children. The Local Authority faces a significant adopter sufficiency challenge, due to this increase. The demand for adoptive placements for children who are in sibling groups, over 2 years of age, from diverse ethnic backgrounds and a number with special needs, is unable to be satisfactorily met from the Local Authority’s existing pool of adopters.
The Adoption Team has developed clear processes and time frames to ensure that recruitment and assessment is prioritised. There is a new Duty Worker as the first point of contact for enquirers in order to provide a timely and consistent response. The collaboration of the Adoption team as part of the developing regional Adoption Agency, Adoption South East (ASE), ensures that applicants have access to information evenings at a time and location convenient to them. ASE works together to identify local families for their children to prevent placements being too far afield. The next ASE Adoption Exchange is being held on 16th October 2017 at the start of National Adoption Week. The presence of the Local Authority’s Adoption Service and the need for adopters is being promoted through a variety of media and events. Planning is also underway to develop an Adoption South East website, as research paper evidenced that the majority of people interested in adoption made their first steps through online activity.
Quarter 1 - June 2017
There is a 409 days average for the 7 children adopted in the first quarter of 2017 from entering care to being placed for adoption, evidencing that we are placing children in a timely manner. There are historic children from the past three years whose timescales from entering care to being placed for adoption have been significantly longer than we would like, but given their specific needs,these plans have been in their best interests.
The main priority for the Adoption Service currently is in recruiting a larger pool of adopters to meet the needs of the increased number of children with adoption care plans. There has been increased marketing activity and there is more capacity in Stage 1 Adoption to respond to enquirers in a timely manner. Alongside this, capacity within the Adoption team is being reviewed to ensure that we are able to progress applications expediently.
The Adoption Partnership is already sharing information events and preparation groups, and the first Adoption Exchange event has taken place, with the plan to hold these events 3 times a year.
Quarter 4 - March 2017
In the year 2016-2017 , West Sussex has achieved adoption for 48 children against its target of 40 children, which is a significant increase on the previous year’s total of 33 adopted children. 13 of the children adopted over the past year had been placed for adoption for up to 18 months prior to Adoption Orders being granted, reasons for which included children with complex needs, older children and children with disabilities being adopted by their foster carers after being in placement for some time. Social workers within Adoption have shown a high level of commitment to working in partnership with their Children Looked After colleagues, in tracking children with plans for permanency through monthly meetings and with the support of the Permanency Planning Co-ordinator. These systems have enabled workers to identify adopters at an early stage wherever possible and to look further afield as soon as possible for family finding for children whose needs cannot be met within West Sussex resources.
There has been a 60% increase in Care Proceedings within West Sussex over the past two years, which in turn has increased the number of children with adoption care plans. There has been increased publicity around adoption to advise the public that West Sussex would like to hear from families interested in adoption, and that there is in the region of 50 children from babies upwards with a plan for adoption. The Recruitment Strategy is under review, with increased social media presence in place and monthly review meetings to ascertain the impact of marketing upon recruitment.