Agenda item

Adoption Tees Valley- Bi -annual report

Vicky Davison- Boyd, Service Manager for Adoption Tees Valley (ATV) will provide present the bi-annual report to the Board.


The Chair welcome Vicky Davison- Boyd, Service Manager for Adoption Tees Valley (ATV) to the meeting, who provided an overview of the ATV bi-annual report 2021-22 which was from the period 1.4.2021- 30.09.2021.


The Manager provided the Board with data, however advised that she had been able to share figures  up until 31.12.21 as quarter 3 data was available.


ATV went through a review in 2021 as at that time the Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) was 3 years in to their implementation. ATV had an independent review which was facilitated by someone independent from RAA and he was part of the transformation team in Stockton Borough Council. He looked at the original objectives and looked at ATV progress. The findings were highlighted in the report, but they key areas were as follows:

1.     Positives- more adoption for children in care than the proceeding five years

2.     Pleased to review and identify that a broader range of children have been adopted from care. 20% of children over 5 years had been adopted from care and there had been a significant increase in placement of sibling groups.

3.     Timeliness hadn’t improved overall, however this has been a priority within ATV and with our partners. A number of children had waited a considerable amount of time to be adopted and their timelines have impacted on average timescales for children overall. It is positive that some children who have waited a long time, have now been adopted.

4.     Peer to peer work has been undertaken with Adoption in Merseyside to understand our processes and strengthen both agencies.

5.     Financial analysis of ATV- provided good value for money and operating below average unit cost for adoption, but we need to ensure we have staffing resource to meet the demand of assessment of adopters and to look at the sufficiency of our adoption placements.

The Service Manager provided a presentation with key information on the following:

Adoption orders- this was drawn from the scorecard used. The grey areas of the bar charts were Middlesbrough. There have been fewer adoption orders granted this year than expected due to the Somerset Ruling, however work done on permanence and through PMG had increased the adoption orders for MBC. There have been 20 adoption orders for MBC in the 9 month period, compared with 19 in the previous year.


Children placed for adoption- within the first 9 months of this year, there have been 24 children placed for adoption, compared with 22 in the same period previous year which shows that the work through PMG and permanence planning is being achieved.

Early permanence- ATV has been working more strategically and it is a strategic priority on a national and regional level. ATV work with the 5 local authorities and look at children who are able to have an early permanence plan.


There has been challenges with early permanence over the past 9 months, due to a number of reasons e.g. children returning to their birth parents in difficult circumstances. ATV are looking at these and working on strategies for early permanence, along with the national adoption agenda. There has been new funding to the area and ATV have been working with Adopt North East and Coast to Coast to secure an early permanence co-ordinator in the region and there is also work being undertaken to undertake a concurrent planning project, however this is in its early stages. In terms of outcomes, Middlesbrough have been achieving early permanence and have 2 children placed for early permanence to date.


Children currently progression- ATV look at placement orders and Agency decisions that adoption is the LA plan for the child –ADM. Last year there were 28 children placement orders for MBC children, which is around the same rate as previous year. There have been a decrease in the agency decisions that adoption is the LA plan for the child –ADM.


In terms of Middlesbrough, what was going well?

·         Numbers of adoptions from care increasing

·         Number of children placed for adoption increasing

·         Early permanence increasing

·         Timeliness of adoption improving

·         Almost every child finds a family, where adoption is the plan


·         Somerset ruling has impacted on placements – this related to the receipt of medical information from the agency medical advisor, which should be provided to the Agency Decision Maker at the time of making their decision adoption is the Local Authority plan for the child. Many LA’s, including MBC, have not always complied with the regulatory requirement. This has resulted in a full scale review across many regional adoption agencies. Local authorities have had to review their cases to ensure they were compliant with the advice given from the medical advisor. It has created delay for children. We have had children where the decision was compliant with the regulation but we have had others where it wasn’t and this is across the national and regional picture. At the moment, we are awaiting the outcome of the somerset ruling. As a consequence, ATV have been working closely with the Director of children’s services and other officers to see whether there are cases where a child could progress via early permanence so that children are not delayed from achieving their planned placement.

·         Recruitment adopters lower this year  - they believe this is a response to the pandemic, however ATV are not alone and this is also the case within the national adoption picture and in fostering.

In terms of development, ATV are working on:

·         Early Permanence

·         Work with Fostering Services – strengthening practice

·         Moving on to Adoption – UEA Model , using this model to move children in a planned away, with increasing relations with foster and adoption parents.

·         Strengthening the assessment pathway

·         Life Story books- transfer back to Child’s Social Worker . there has been some guidance provided by ATV

·         Adoption Support – celebrating education support to adopted children, and working with Virtual Schools

·         Child’s Voice  - brought a group of young people together and they have put together a video of what it is like to be in school and adopted. Further updates on the Child’s voice would be updated to the board in future meetings.

Following the presentation, a Board member queried how many teenagers would like to be adopted/ have been adopted. In response, the Service Manager advised that ATV were currently undertaking the process for a foster family in another local authority to formally adopt a teenager who was in their care and this was a point of great celebration. Adoption is typically seen as something for younger children, however as seen from earlier data, there are more children over 5 years old being adopted. In terms of adopting teenagers, it is national progress and there is a lot of discussion surrounding this.


Another board queried whether the somerset ruling would have an elongated process for children. In short the Service Manager advised she hoped not, but no child would be placed without the prospective parents seeing the medical assessment and full adoption medical. In terms of early permanence, it has allowed ATV to progress with children’s’ plans, whilst we await the ruling of the somerset ruling.


The Service Manager was thanked for her presentation.


AGREED- That the bi-annual report be noted.


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