Scrutiny Councillors very pleased with the ‘business as usual’ approach of Regional Adoption Service which maintained performance levels despite the pandemic

Scrutiny Councillors on the Child & Family Services Panel met with the Cabinet Member for Children Services and senior officers in the Service last month to receive an update on progress with the Western Bay Regional Adoption Service, Initial Feedback on the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) Assurance Visit and the Panel’s Review of the Year 2020-21 and the draft work programme for 2021-22.

Update on Regional Adoption Service

The Panel was very pleased to hear that despite 2020 being a difficult year due to the pandemic, the Service was able to maintain performance by adopting a ‘business as usual’ approach via virtual means.

The Panel queried details on the number of children currently available for adoption in Swansea, how many adoptive parents are in place and if children waiting for adoption are in foster care. Officers explained that the Service is currently matching for four children, that at the end of April 2021 there were 15 sets of adoptive parents in place and, at the moment, there are some adopters waiting but this changes from month to month. If there are no adopters available, the service goes back to consider if long term fostering is the right plan.

The Panel were previously concerned that the number of children was increasing and felt that there was a need to increase the number of adopters but this seems to have changed around; the Panel felt that the report presented showed lots of stability.

Some children from Swansea had been placed in England, the Panel queried why this was necessary. Officers explained that in larger sibling groups and in some with additional needs, there were no suitable adopters locally and so the Service used the adoption register to identify suitable placements further afield. There is currently marketing work taking place to try and increase adopters suitable for such cases.

Overall the Panel felt this was a very positive report, and the Convenor of the Panel, Councillor Paxton Hood-Williams added in his letter to the Cabinet Member for Children Services that this report was ‘the best the panel has seen for some time’ and thanked all staff in the Service for their hard work.

The Panel also discussed the Initial Feedback on CIW Assurance Visit which focussed on two things:

  1. How well the local authority discharges its statutory duties
  2. How well the local authority prevents the need for children to come into care

The CIW chose five cases, selected randomly to look at.

The Panel felt that there was very little criticism of what the local authority has been doing and the initial feedback was very good. The Panel will review the detailed report at the next meeting in August.

Review of the Child & Family Scrutiny Performance Panel Work Programme 2020-21 and a forward look to the draft Work Programme 2021-22

Councillor Paxton Hood-Williams stated that it had been a difficult year for scrutiny as it had been a difficult year for Social Services Management and staff. During the peak of the pandemic there were three joint meetings with the Adult Services Scrutiny Panel to receive updates on dealing with the pandemic.

 He added that last year had shown the Panel a good way forward; topics of relevance to both the Child and Family Services and the Adult Services Panels to go to one Panel, with members of the other Panel invited to attend, this will reduce the strain on officer’s time.

In terms of the draft work programme for 2021-22, the Panel felt it was important to look at cases that get closed in the performance report, and requested to see some practical examples. The Head of Service suggested the Panel see videos on ‘Appreciative Inquiry’ from time to time at panel meetings, the Panel agreed and look forward to seeing such videos in the near future.

Click here, to view details of the discussions held at this meeting and to read all reports and letters sent to and received from Cabinet.

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