One Adoption West Yorkshire is bucking the national trend by approving more adopters for children in care across the region over the past year than in the previous year.
At next week’s meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board, members will discuss the agency’s annual report and will hear how the county’s regional adoption agency – which provides adoption services for all West Yorkshire councils, has made significant progress in its second year of operation.
The board members will hear how One Adoption is overcoming national challenges to ensure that children with a plan for adoption are placed with adopters who can best meet their needs in a timely manner and that adoptive families are well supported throughout their lives.
Over the course of 2018 – 2019, 229 children had a plan for adoption across the five local authorities, which was an increase of 38 from the previous year. However One Adoption West Yorkshire was able to approve 109 new adopters, which is a significant increase of 40 compared to the previous year, and slightly higher than prior to regionalisation.
In West Yorkshire 172 children were placed for adoption with families in the last year and of the children adopted in the year, the average time between a child entering care and moving in with their adoptive family was 401 days, which is lower than the national indicator of 426 days. Work is underway to ensure a further reduction in any delays for children waiting for their adoptive family in the region.
The report also shows that there are currently 207 children with a plan for adoption who have not yet been placed with an adoptive family – of this 24 % are from BME backgrounds, mainly Black African, Black Caribbean, mixed heritage or Eastern European. Of the 207, 47 are in sibling groups of two or more. Which means, One Adoption West Yorkshire is really keen to hear from anyone who may be thinking of adopting, especially if they feel they can meet the needs of the children waiting.
As well as finding families for children waiting, One Adoption also offers long term support for adoptive families and has this year successfully accessed £2.1 million worth of funding through the Adoption Support Fund which has helped 650 adopted children receive the best possible outcomes and support.
Councillor Fiona Venner, an executive board member for children and families and chair of the West Yorkshire adoption joint committee said:
“It is excellent to see that One Adoption West Yorkshire is going from strength to strength, after becoming the first regional adoption agency in the country.
“In bringing together adoption services across West Yorkshire, keeping the needs of children and families at the heart of everything we do has been paramount. By streamlining processes and introducing innovative practices, I am delighted that the partnership has successfully reduced the number of time children wait to find a permanent, loving home and that great progress has been made to recruit more adoptive families.”
One Adoption West Yorkshire became the country’s first regional adoption agency when it was launched in 2017 as part of the Government’s regionalisation agenda – bringing together all of the adoption services from Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield. Within its second year of operation, the agency has already demonstrated that it is leading the way for newer regional agencies by winning two national awards. The agency has crowned the winners in the Excellence in Adoption Practice category at the National Adoption Week Awards and also received a Local Government Chronicle Award for the public to public partnership working.
Board members will also hear about innovative practices introduced by One Adoption this year, including using Virtual Reality during its preparation training for prospective adopters and the launch of its Peer Mentoring scheme to ensure that existing adopters have access to an excellent support network.