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Reading Asked to Consider Joining New Regional Adoption Agency

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READING could become part of a new Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) under plans being considered at a meeting on Monday 3rd October.

Members of the Adult, Children’s and Education committee are being asked to agree in principle to the borough council joining Adopt Thames Valley (ATV) along with six other local authorities and voluntary adoption agencies.

The council currently provides adoption services for the borough but the government has said it expects all local authorities to be part of an RAA by 2020.

Work is under way to develop ATV as a partnership between seven local authorities, including Bracknell Forest, Oxfordshire, West Berkshire, Windsor and Maidenhead, Wokingham, Swindon and potentially Reading.

It is believed that by working together and pooling resources the authorities and voluntary agencies will potentially provide more options for placements and provide better value.

Adopt Thames Valley is being developed with the support of the Department for Education which has granted funding to assist the new service to be developed which will deliver better outcomes for children while reducing costs for the participating local councils.

The new service would take responsibility for all recruitment, matching of children and support for adopters.

The key anticipated benefits of the Adopt Thames Valley model include:

  • Improved outcomes for children through the availability of a large pool of adopters
  • Improved ability to place harder to place children for adoption, such as older children, children with disabilities, sibling groups and BME children.
  • Improved experience for adopters through quicker matches with children who need placements.
  • Better value for local authorities through economies of scale in the recruitment and assessment process for adopters.
  • Potential savings for local authorities through placing children with adopters more quickly.
  • Improved adoption support services across a wider geographical area.

Work started on the project in December 2015 and the new service is due to start operating in September 2017.

Councillor Jan Gavin, Reading’s Lead Member for Children’s Services, said:

“Being part of Adopt Thames Valley has several potential benefits for children, adopters and the council.

“This is an important service and it can be a costly one so working together and benefiting from economies of scale, as well as having a larger pool of adopters appears to make sense.

“At the moment we are being asked to agree in principle to joining ATV and I believe it is worth fully exploring the potential for developing a service which is affordable and meets the needs of Reading residents.”

The full report on Adopt Thames Valley Regional Adoption Agency can be found here: http://www.reading.gov.uk/media/6027/item08/pdf/item08.pdf

ENDS