The Corporate Director Social Services and Wellbeing presented a report which sought approval to sign the revised National Adoption Service In Wales partnership agreement.
She outlined the background surrounding National Adoption Service for Wales (NAS) which was established in 2014 in response to service user and Government recommendations for improving services. She explained that 2018 the Governance Board and Advisory Group for NAS determined that coherence and ability to improve needed to be strengthened in order to enhance the achievement of strategic objectives and priorities for adoption services across Wales. The WLGA and ADSS-C commissioned The Institute of Public Care at Oxford Brookes University (IPC) to undertake a review of the existing arrangements. IPC engaged in various ways with a wide range of NAS organisations and stakeholders including Advisory Group and Governance Board workshops, the Welsh Government and the National Assembly for Wales Children, Young People and Education Committee which concluded with three potential ways forward, including a new partnership agreement. These were listed at 3.2 of the report,
The Corporate Director Social Services and Wellbeing outlined the current situation and summarised the elements of the revised agreement as set out in 4.1 of the report. She added that a key change that was referred to by Western Bay Adoption Service within the new Partnership Agreement was the development of Regional Joint Committees. These were made up of lead Cabinet Members across a region who met twice a year to agree plans and resource recommendations via the Regional Management Board (RMB). A briefing paper was to be presented to the next Management Board in April 2021 to consider how the region would address this particular element of the agreement. Further details on the change were at 4.2.
The Cabinet Member Social Services and Early Help welcome the report and the work that had been put in to improving the prospects of our looked after children (LAC). She added that she looked forward to sitting on the new regional joint committee as it was important to have an overarching view of what was happening with regards to LAC and an aim to reduce the number of LAC and children coming into the system in the first place.
The Leader echoed the points made by the Cabinet Member and stated that adoption support was very important and was one of the reasons that a regional and national adoption services were developed was to improve the level of support post adoption to parents as well as children. HE added that many of the children who had been adopted had some adverse childhood experiences so it was important to provide them with as much support as the adoptive parents.
The Leader asked for confirmation that support had continued to be offered particularly during the pandemic and how the regional and national services had responded to the challenges faced.
The Corporate Director Social Services and Wellbeing explained that despite the pandemic and pressures that came with it, the performance and outcomes for children supported through national and regional services had been really positive. The number of placement orders granted this year had increased slightly. She added that despite lockdown restrictions, the service was able to achieve a match of children with prospective adoptive families similar to previous years which was positive given the challenges of face-to-face working. She added that we had seen more children through the regional adoption service staying and remaining within the region of Bridgend which was important for support. She added that regular adoption support groups had been developed this year and a therapeutic parenting group had also been established.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet: