Review of post-adoption support needed in Wales, says National Assembly committee
The Welsh Government should conduct a review of post-adoption support available in Wales, according to a National Assembly committee.
The Children and Young People Committee has been reviewing the progress made since its 2012 inquiry into adoption services.
The Committee heard positive experiences regarding the newly established National Adoption Service from stakeholders and both prospective adopters and parents who had adopted.
Members heard that improvements had been made with regard to the 'early' stages of the adoption process such as recruitment and training.
However, contributors raised concerns about the lack of progress in some of the more 'challenging' policy and practice areas.
The Committee's primary concerns are:
- The regional variation across Wales.
- The continued lack of post-adoption support and the significant and very serious impact this can potentially have on children and their families.
- That the majority of adopted children are still not being provided with quality life-story work.
On the subject of post-adoption support the Committee found that there has been very limited, if any, progress, noting that in England, since 2013, local authorities have been able to apply to a specific Adoption Support Fund, which is intended to fund essential therapy services for adoptive families.
Members were told that over £1.2 million was being made available to third sector organisations (After Adoption, Adoption UK and the St David's Children Society) over the next three years to provide post-adoption support across Wales.
This approach would mean all adopters can benefit from the support that is available. However, this funding will not be used to support individual children and families.
"The Committee welcomes the progress made so far with regards to the early stages of adoption, including recruitment and training," said Ann Jones AM, Chair of the Children, Young People and Education Committee.
"The response to the National Adoption Service (NAS), which we advocated in our 2012 report, is positive, particularly with regards to the speed with which it has established an appropriate infrastructure; its engagement with key stakeholders and the establishment of systems to gather data on adoption.
"However, we are concerned that little, if any, progress has been made in improving post-adoption support which we see as a critical part of the process.
"The regional variations and lack of quality life-story work for the majority of adopted children is worrying and we would urge all those involved to make further efforts to address these issues and provide the sort of quality, compassionate and complete support adopted children and their families need."
The Committee makes 11 recommendations in its report, including:
- The Welsh Government should undertake a timely review into post-adoption support and, if needed, transfer the responsibility and resources for assessing needs which occur post-adoption to the National Adoption Service;
- The Welsh Government/NAS should work with representatives at a regional and local authority level to take forward an 'agreed national specification' for life story work. Local authorities must ensure that staff have the capacity and skills to deliver this work; and
- The CYPE Committee's successor committee should keep under review the NAS's progress of fulfilling its stated priority of ensuring that, where appropriate, services are consistent and of a high standard.
Follow-up Inquiry into Adoption Services in Wales (PDF, 528KB)
Image from Flickr by Kat Grigg. Licensed under the Creative Commons.