Agenda and minutes

Adoption Scrutiny Workstream
Monday, 30th November, 2015 7.00 pm

Venue: Conference Room, Civic Centre, Silver Street, Enfield, EN1 3XA. View directions

Contact: Elaine Huckell 

Items
No. Item

282.

WELCOME AND APOLOGIES

Minutes:

Councillor Fonyonga welcomed everyone to the meeting.  Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Celebi (Adoption Panel Member), and for lateness from Councillor Hurman and Councillor Simon.

 

Councillor Fonyonga reminded everyone that the agreed objectives of the workstream are

  • Recruitment of adopters for our children with complex needs
  • That approved adopters are waiting too long to adopt

·         Regionalisation of the Adoption Service

283.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Members of the Council are invited to identify any disclosable pecuniary, other pecuniary or non-pecuniary interests relevant to items on the agenda

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

284.

ADOPTION PANEL pdf icon PDF 68 KB

To receive a written statement from Cllr Mary Maguire (Adoption Panel Member) and hear the views of the Independent Chair, Yvonne Metcalf and Cllr Erin Celebi (Adoption Panel Member).

Minutes:

Debbie Michael (Team Manager Adoption), and Yvonne Metcalf (Independent Chair of Adoption Panel) were introduced. Debbie Michael has worked in the Adoption service since 2003 and has been team manager for the last five years. Yvonne Metcalf is also an independent social worker and has chaired the Adoption Panel in Enfield for 12 years, she also chairs an adoption panel for a shire County.

 

A written statement had been prepared by Councillor Maguire, who was unable to attend this meeting, it set out her experience of the Adoption Panel.

 

It was stated that the Panel meets once a month and usually deals with 3 to 4 cases.

 

Members asked if the Panel welcomes applications from same sex couples and it was confirmed that it does.  A member of the Panel had met one of our same sex couples whose child was flourishing.  It was pointed out that all applicants are treated in the same way.  The main concern is that a child’s needs are met and that adopters provide a positive role model it should be remembered that all families are different.   Any negative comments that have been received on same sex adopters have tended to come from birth families.   It was stated that for same sex couples, adoption would be a positive choice they had made as it is the only way for them to have children.  New Family Social is an organisation that offers advice and support to same sex adopters and their details are given to our prospective same sex adopters.

 

It was asked if adopters can be approved and matched at the same panel and it was stated that this is possible if the paperwork is in place, however it is usually done separately to allow time for assessment to be done.   If people ‘foster to adopt’, this means that the placement of a child can happen earlier. It was mentioned that it is not possible to approve someone who fosters to adopt a particular child,  as they would need to first be approved as a general adopter.

A lot of adopters are not suitable for ‘fostering to adopt’ as they cannot cope with the possibility that they may not be able to adopt the child who they foster as the child may be in the ‘court arena’.

 

There were discussions about adoption being individual and very highly regulated.  It was felt there were contradictions in the system and that more flexibility was needed.  There was frustration that it is not possible to ‘family find’ until an order is granted which stops parallel planning. 

 

In answer to a question about how the Adoption Panel is set up – it was stated that the Panel in Enfield has a range of panel member with different backgrounds.   It currently includes someone who was adopted, someone with an adopted child, elected members, social workers foster carers and independent members.  There are 3 male members on the Panel and the quorum is for 5 members to be present at  ...  view the full minutes text for item 284.

285.

REGIONALISATION OF ADOPTION SERVICES pdf icon PDF 182 KB

To receive an update on the current position with regards to regionalisation of Adoption Services.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Julian Edwards (Interim Assistant Director) referred to plans for some areas of adoption to be delivered through a regionalised Pan London arrangement and said that £100K has been awarded to allow the London Adoption Board to look at options.  He said the pace of change is slower than originally expected, and thought it would be logical for plans to be based around the existing north London consortia, which Enfield is part of, which is working well. This consortia already undertakes joint work on funding and monitoring and its work on training is held up as a good model.  He thought it was key that stakeholders are involved in this process.

 

Councillor Orhan spoke of a recent event on this issue which was held at Somerset House for both officers and Councillors.  Concerns had been raised about the lack of clarity regarding funding for the scheme. There had been discussions about the matching of adopters for BME children however it was unclear whether the new regionalisation programme would deliver positive outcomes on this, as if an organisation is too large we may lose localism advantages.  She said that elected members who attended had similar views and they were generally agreeable to administrative processes being centralised. However there was uncertainty about how local authority funding would be impacted under regionalisation.

Concerns were expressed about accountability and risk issues.  It was hoped that the new proposals would not result in Enfield losing the skills currently held.

 

The London Adoption Board had not been successful in receiving the full £470K bid put forward to the Department of Environment. It was thought this may have been due to insufficient detail being given - more was needed on implementation and a work plan would have been beneficial.  A financial business case was needed to take into account any unintended consequences. 

 

There would have to be a division of labour to enable regionalisation proposals to work.  It had been thought that the pace of change would be speedy but now it seems this would be unlikely.

 

The following issues were raised about the adoption/ matching of BME children

  • At present we would look at our ‘in house’ pool of adopters and would then look at those for the consortium.  If this was not possible we would then look at it at a national level.  There should not be any delays resulting from this process. It was therefore thought unlikely that the new regionalisation process would provide significant advantages for matching purposes.
  • It was stated that adopters were generally keen to adopt babies rather than older children, however there are few babies available for adoption.  Recent recruitment material now more clearly emphasises the kind of children that are waiting to be adopted in North London.
  • When asked if BME children are exclusively matched to BME adopters, it was stated that this is not the case but adopters generally prefer to adopt children who look like them.
  • We have similar demographics to those within the consortia and there is  ...  view the full minutes text for item 285.

286.

FEEDBACK FROM RECENT MEETINGS AND EVENTS

To receive feedback from recent meetings and discussions with adopters from Cllrs Dinah Barry, Toby Simon and Krystle Fonyonga and on a London Councils Member event on Reforming Adoption Services from Cllr Dinah Barry.

Minutes:

Councillors Dinah Barry, Toby Simon and Krystle Fonyonga spoke of meetings and discussions with adopters. Their comments are included above.

287.

DATE OF NEXT MEETING

Workstream members to note the date of the next meeting as Thursday 14 January 2016 at 8:00pm. This will be a private meeting.

Minutes:

The date of the next meeting will be Thursday 14 January 2016 at 8:00pm – this is to be a private meeting.