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Welsh National Adoption Service plans no excuse for cost-cutting

BASW Cymru welcomed the unveiling of a blueprint to create a “flagship” National Adoption Service for Wales, but warned it must not be viewed as an excuse for cost-cutting.

The proposals aim to set up a national adoption framework in the country administered through a network of five regional “collaboratives”, to include statutory and voluntary organisations.

One local authority will be appointed to lead each of the collaboratives, from which a Senior Responsible Officer will be identified who will be answerable to a newly-created National Board for Adoption Services.

A Director of Operations will also be appointed, accountable to the board and with the power to intervene when regional collaboratives fail to meet national standards.

Proposals for The National Adoption Service came out of consultation on the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill, which led to the creation of the Expert Advisory Group on Adoption to drive forward the reforms.

Unveiling the plans, Gwenda Thomas AM, Deputy Minister for Social Services, said: “I have now received a functional model for a National Adoption Service proposed by the Association of Directors of Social Services in conjunction with the Welsh Local Government Association, and endorsed by the Expert Advisory Group - it is a model that I believe will achieve the step-change and radical reform we have all sought.”

Ministers maintain a national framework will address disparity in adoption services, end duplication and delays and foster greater collaboration between organisations.

It is envisaged the five collaboratives will be set up by April next year.

Ms Thomas added: “We are about to embark on yet another unique way of working in Wales, championing transformational change in service delivery, and I am proud to be a part of that and to witness all sectors working together.”

BASW Cymru said it was essential the changes worked in the best interests of children. Robin Moulster, BASW Cymru Manager, said: “We believe it is crucially important for children to be placed with adoptive parents as soon as possible and to avoid unnecessary delays. However, we feel the new collaboratives will need close scrutiny to ensure the demands of one local authority do not compromise the needs of others.

“It is also essential to ensure that timely placements do not compromise the needs of the children they are there to serve by ignoring important aspects about their cultural identity and community belonging.”

Mr Moulster said outcomes must be measured for the benefits to children rather than just being part of an “outputs culture”. He added: “We hope specialist posts in each area will not be lost in an attempt to use regionalisation as a driver for short-sighted cost-cutting.”

The five regional adoption collaboratives will be:

·      North Wales - Wrexham, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Conwy, Denbighshire and Ynys Mon

·      South East Wales - Blaenau Gwent, Monmouth, Torfaen, Newport and Caerphilly

·      West & Mid Wales - Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Powys

·      Western Bay – Neath Port Talbot, Swansea, and Bridgend

·      Mid & South Wales - Cardiff, the Vale of Glamorgan, Merthyr and Rhondda-Cynon-Taff