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Possible boost for children seeking adoption

Saturday, 11 November 2023 09:08

By Bradley Gerrard, local democracy reporter

(Image: Unsplash / BBC Creative)

Cornwall Council has joined a regional adoption agency

Children seeking adoption in the south west could be given a boost after a collaboration between Devon and Cornwall.

Devon County Council approved Cornwall Council becoming a full member of a regional adoption agency hosted by Devon’s County Hall.

The Adopt South West Regional Adoption Agency was set up in 2018,  combining the adoption services of Devon, Somerset, Torbay and Plymouth authorities.

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly maintained their own service at this time, but have now opted to join the regional group.

“This is one of those cases where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts,” said Councillor Andrew Leadbetter (Cons, Wearside and Topsham).

“It will lead to better outcomes and I commend the decision.”

The inclusion of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly into the service means that children needing adoption could now be housed within the Regional Adoption Agency’s footprint, potentially increasing the chances of them finding a new home.

Councillor Julian Brazil (Lib Dem, South Hams) welcomed the decision “not least because of the excellence I think that Cornwall will bring with them”.

The agreement will see 14 posts from Cornwall’s adoption teams transfer to Devon, with Cornwall providing funding for 60 per cent of a service manager post to cover the increased workload and all of the cost for the management of Cornwall’s adoption work.

However, the report for councillors noted  potential staffing issues if some of Cornwall’s adoption service workers do not move, because Devon currently has a recruitment freeze.

There has been a national push by government to get local authorities working together on adoption services, with Cornwall being one of only two services left operating entirely independently.

Adopt South West shows the adoption service took on average 162 days last year to place children with families after a so-called placement order by a court had been issued.

Cornwall’s figure was 289 days, with the report saying this highlighted the need for Cornwall to be able to access more prospective adoptive parents.

Councillor Carol Whitton (Labour, St David’s & Haven Banks) said the prospect of a wider pool of potential matches “has to be good for all the children in the region.”

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