Ofsted has warned local authorities that, under new adoption inspection arrangements, they will only be able to achieve an ‘outstanding’ judgement if they ensure all children identified for adoption are placed within twelve months. These new arrangements will be implemented in April this year.
Age is the most significant indicator of a successful adoption; the younger a child is placed the better the outcomes. Delays in adoption can have severe impact on children’s health, development and ability to make new meaningful attachments and can impair their chances of enjoying a successful adult life. Inspection will have a key focus on how quickly adoption agencies place children when adoption is in their best interest.
In addition to looking at delays, inspection will look at whether adoption has been considered as an option for all children in local authority care. Inspectors will look at evidence that adoption has been considered early in the planning process and not as a last resort.
Separation from siblings has been a continuing concern for children in care. As a result, when inspecting adoption services, inspectors will look at whether children identified for adoption are able to be adopted together with their siblings wherever this is possible. Minimising the separation of children from their siblings will also be the aim for children who are fostered.
Delays in the recruitment and assessment of adopters will also be considered under the new framework. Inspectors will look at the vetting process, how long it takes and the support provided for those who adopt.
For children who are fostered, the new framework will help to ensure that the number of placements are reduced by looking at how well children’s needs are matched with the foster carers and what support is provided to both the child and carers to make placement a success. The focus of inspection will be on the difference the fostering service has made to children’s lives and how it ensures that outcomes are the best possible for each child.