Friday, 20 August 2010

Insight into the Adoption Register for England and Wales

Andy Stott, Manager of the Adoption Register for England & Wales, takes us through how the service runs and the difference it is making to the lives of vulnerable children.

The Adoption Register is an important national tool for local authorities in finding families for looked after children in need of adoption. The Register is run by BAAF on behalf of the Department for Education and the Welsh Assembly Government. It has been run by BAAF for over five years, and I have been the manager throughout this period.

Previously I had managed a local authority adoption team. I made the move because I felt strongly that the Register could make a real difference to the lives of harder to place children.

At the beginning of August 2010 there were around 1100 children on the Register, and each day we get between 15 and 20 new referrals from local authorities. These children are typically of school age, to be placed with brothers and sisters, disabled and/or from a black and minority ethnic background. They are children for whom their local authority has been unable, or is unlikely, to find a family locally.

At the beginning of August, there were also around 820 approved prospective adopters on the Register. Prospective adopters can be referred to the Register by their adoption agency, or they can refer themselves. However, it is important to note that not all approved prospective adopters, or children in need of adoption, come to the notice of the Register (see Adoption Register for further details of the targeted referral system).

The role of the Register team is to identify potential matches between prospective adopters and children on the Register. Over the last five years or so, more than 1150 children have been matched at local authority adoption panel as a result of potential matches identified by the Register. This is a significant achievement, and the Register has now become an integral part of the adoption family finding process in England and Wales.

The Register team also holds a number of adoption exchange days every year. At exchange days approved prospective adopters can look at the profiles of children awaiting adoption and discuss these with the children’s social workers, and sometimes see DVD’s of them as well.

We held two national exchange days at the start of July in Manchester and London. These were attended by over 150 prospective adopters and 50 local authorities. Exchange days bring children to life for adopters. At such an event, it is not unusual for up to 20 children to be matched with families in a single day.

Details of future exchange days can be found on the website.

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