5a One Adoption South Yorkshire (OASY) – Cover Report
5b One Adoption South Yorkshire (OASY) Report
5c One Adoption South Yorkshire Strategic Plan 2021 – 2024
Cllr Ennis OBE returned to the Chair and thanked Cllr Richardson.
The following witnesses were welcomed to the meeting:
Mel John-Ross, Executive Director-Children’s Services, BMBC
Sophie Wales, Service Director Children’s Social Care & Safeguarding, Children’s Services BMBC
Michael Richardson, Adoption Team Manager, Barnsley Team, One Adoption South Yorkshire
Stephanie Evans, Head of Service, OneAdoptionSouthYorkshire
Cllr Trevor Cave, Cabinet Spokesperson Children’s Services, BMBC
Stephanie Evans introduced the report explaining that the requirement for all adoption agencies to come together had resulted in something exceptional because, although based on a partnership model like other areas, the South Yorkshire model goes further by pooling budgets. The agency is hosted by Doncaster who have a small hub team and there are plans to increase this after a number of posts have been identified to help deliver a better service. The agency consists of four adoption teams which means it is compact for a regional adoption agency and therefore easier to manage. The aim is to combine resources to ensure that children across South Yorkshire are placed as quickly as possible with families, focussing on South Yorkshire families for South Yorkshire Children.
In the ensuing discussion and in response to detailed questioning and challenge the following matters were highlighted:
96% of adopters are White British but the number of children who fall into this category across South Yorkshire are much lower and work is being done to attract a diverse range of adopters so that children can recognise themselves and their backgrounds. The agency are planning to go into communities and build relationships and trust, and break down barriers, to try and understand why people from ethnic communities don’t come forward as often. They are also looking to attract faith families to support older children.
Special guardianship orders are the best option for young people who cannot live with their birth family but work also needs to be done to understand why people are looking at long-term fostering as an option as opposed to adoption.
Adopters need to be assured that they will be supported through the child’s life following adoption. The aim is to ensure that there is an equitable service regardless of where people live in South Yorkshire and each area will be looked at to determine whether staffing levels and post adoption support needs are appropriate or whether they need to be developed and promoted.
Bringing together the four areas across South Yorkshire means that some processes need to be standardised across the footprint of the agency to deliver the most effective service to adopters across South Yorkshire.
Situations where it is not possible to keep the sibling unit together happens more often than they would like but can be avoided with stringent social care processes. The number of ‘disruptions’ (placements that break down before an adoption order is made) is very small across the footprint and there haven’t been any since the agency ‘go-live’ date. Whenever a disruption does occur, the case is reviewed to determine why the placement has broken down. When this happens the child is supported by their social worker and moves back to foster carers who also provide support. A pattern cannot be identified because of the low numbers and that fact that each case its treated as individual. The key to successful adoption is looking at what adopters bring to the table and appropriate matching, putting in as much time and effort as possible to find a suitable match. Support through the adoption process is also key, developing relations when they are experiencing difficulties.
Fostering remains within the individual local authorities and they work with foster carers who may potentially become adopters, assessing them through the usual channels.
Although it appears that Rotherham is out-performing other authorities within the agency’s footprint, these figures can fluctuate.
(i) Witnesses be thanked for their attendance and contribution; and
(ii) Members note the report.