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Three councils join to provide large-scale adoption service

Published November 11, 2020 11.49am

A partnership between three local authorities to provide high-quality adoption and support services will be discussed this month by a council's Cabinet.

Durham County Council is set to form a Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) partnership with Cumbria County Council and Together for Children, run by Sunderland City Council, to work collaboratively and provide a high standard of adoption services.

Durham County Council's Cabinet will discuss this decision when they meet virtually at 9.30am on Wednesday, 18 November. Members of the public can view the meeting at DCC on YouTube.

Adopt Coast to Coast

Named Adopt Coast to Coast, the partnership has been developed over the last four years in response to a government requirement in 2016 to move services into RAAs.

Through this partnership, a system will be developed where children are matched with the most suitable adopter as quickly as possible.

Adopters will be recruited at a scale efficient enough to provide a pool of 'adoption ready' households to meet the needs of children with a plan of adoption.

Set to go live on 1 April 2021, Adopt Coast to Coast will offer improved, high-quality and sufficient adoption support services as well as the potential for savings by avoiding duplication and operating on a greater scale.

High quality service

Staff at the three local authorities will continue to be employed by their existing organisations and two new job posts have been created for the partnership, including the recruitment of an RAA head of service.

The teams will work together to achieve the shared vision for Adopt Coast to Coast:

"children will achieve their full potential within a loving and secure family, and everyone affected by adoption will receive a high-quality innovative and sustainable service"

This partnership has been developed through a grant from the Department of Education (DfE) to span the service across the three local authorities.

The three authorities will also work in conjunction with four voluntary adoption agencies which have offices based within these areas.

The remaining funds from the DfE grant will meet the ongoing support and development costs of the RAA ahead of it going live.

Working collaboratively 

The Durham council's cabinet, and the two other partnering authorities, have been recommended to approve the full business case for establishing the Adopt Coast to Coast RAA before it can be tested and made live.

Cllr Olwyn Gunn, Durham County Council's Cabinet member for children and young people's services, said: "This partnership model between ourselves, Cumbria and Sunderland is one we believe allows us to achieve what has been asked of us by government, providing more efficient adoption services on a larger scale.

"Over the last four years we have worked with Sunderland and Cumbria to develop this plan. All three authorities already provide adoption services that are rated Good by Ofsted, so this has created a strong foundation for us to continue working collaboratively to develop our plan and find children secure and loving homes."

Matching children with the right families

Cllr Louise Farthing, portfolio holder for children's services at Sunderland City Council, said: "I am delighted that the collaboration between Durham, Cumbria and Sunderland has culminated in a hub and spoke model, meaning that children needing loving homes will be matched more easily with adoptive parents, and adoptive parents from Sunderland will continue to be supported by our local, highly experienced Sunderland staff teams."

Cllr Anne Burns, Cumbria County Council's Cabinet member for people, said: "I'm delighted that we are now moving forward with this new agency. This is all about ensuring that children have the best chance of being matched with the right adoptive family. The preparatory work that has already been done means we are collectively in a great position and I look forward to the new agency becoming operational early next year."