ADOPTION POLICY REVIEW GROUP -REPORT PHASE I
Consortia, Service Level Agreements and other resource sharing initiatives in Scotland
- A number of formal and informal arrangements exist within Scotland by which Social Work Departments and Voluntary agencies attempt to exchange resources in order to meet the needs of children awaiting permanent placements. Some of the arrangements have a formal administrative basis while others are more informal.
West of Scotland Family Placement Consortium
- Membership comprises 12 local authorities (LA) (previously Strathclyde) and 1 voluntary agency. LAs pay membership costs to cover the running costs of this Consortium. BAAF provides administrative input and some placement consultancy. The initial intention was to notify children and families to the Consortium at the point of registration/approval of either permanence plan or the potential family. However, this has not been achievable in practice as it is not mandatory. Current consortium activities include:
- referral of children awaiting placement where agencies cannot meet within their resources
- referral of families awaiting placement where approving agency cannot identify link
- data inputted and possible links identified for consideration by workers
- quarterly meetings to share practice issues, provide peer group support and consider practice and legislative developments
- open day for the public during National Adoption Week
- annual development meeting
- development of web page to provide information to the public and agencies
- small newsletter
Note: Agencies do not charge each other for these services.
Glasgow and West of Scotland Adoption Service (GWSAS)
- GWSAS is a consortium of 10 of the authorities formed from the former Strathclyde Region and is essentially a service for children aged 0-2 years old. It was set up in 1997 as the successor to the Centralised Baby Adoption Service (CBAS) which had been established by Strathclyde around 1987. CBAS had been created to address some of the inequities of service provision within the 5 divisions of Strathclyde. For example, Glasgow had large numbers of children to place but a relatively small number of prospective adoptive families whereas there were other areas such as Argyll and Ayrshire where there were so few children that applicants could expect to wait 5-7 years for a placement. The new authorities were keen to avoid reverting to this kind of situation, and also recognised that some were so small that they might have difficulty providing a full service.
- This service focuses on recruitment and preparation of families. There are no charges for any of the services. As the major user of the service, Glasgow City Council provides the following administrative and professional services:
- responding to enquiries from prospective adopters
- provision of information packs
- an information meeting
- preparatory groups
- registration of approved couples
- identification of suitable adoptive families for referred children
- The home authority provides a worker to interview enquirers and to carry out assessments and the assessments are then presented to the GWSAS panel that meets every 4 weeks. Home authorities can provide 2 of their own panel members to sit on the panel for their cases. The panel approves approximately 30 applicants per year. Approximately 30 placements are made through the service. At least half of these are Glasgow children. Approved couples receive post-approval services e.g. regular meetings of a support group. There is also a post-adoption group.
- Each authority has a representative on the GWSAS group, which meets approximately every 4 months. Rules of operation are minimal, and there is no constitution for the group - only for the panel. An annual training event for panel members and others involved with the service is the norm.
Inter Authority Resource Sharing North East Scotland Group
- This informal Consortium comprises Highland, Perth and Kinross, Fife, Angus, Moray, Dundee and Aberdeen and meets every 2-3 months. Activities include discussion of practice issues and consideration of any possible links between children and families. No charge is made between agencies. Aberdeenshire was formerly part of this consortium, but introduced charging arrangements that were incompatible with the group's remit.
East of Scotland Permanence Network
- This network, which is an informal grouping of Edinburgh, Midlothian and East and West Lothian, Scottish Borders and Fife, meets every 2-3 months. Practice issues are discussed and occasionally joint working on information sessions/preparation groups for applicants is undertaken. There is some sharing of resources. Except for Fife and Borders, all other agencies in this network have a service agreement with Scottish Adoption Association to provide families and charging is involved.
Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannan
- These departments formerly comprised Central Region and have maintained previous working relationships i.e. they undertake joint recruitment activities and share resources. No charges are made and this grouping would probably not identify themselves as a Consortium as such.
- Additional arrangements may exist between other LAs as regards the exchange of resources e.g. Dumfries & Galloway have historically had reciprocal arrangements with Scottish Borders.
Scottish Resource Network
- This is run directly by BAAF and comprises a database of children awaiting placement in Scotland who have been referred to the Network, and also families awaiting placement who have been referred to the Network. There is no mandatory requirement to notify either children or families but the Network can and is used by any agency in Scotland. A newsletter containing profiles of children is circulated bi-monthly to all agencies and to approved adopters.
- An electronic linking service not yet operational. Charges made for referral of children to the Network and for links made are 158 and 495 respectively. Families are also referred to BAAFLink.
- Historically a somewhat contentious practice used primarily by English agencies whereby details (including some photographs) of children would be mailed out to all social work departments and voluntary agencies to see if an agency might have a family. This practice, although criticised in Scotland, has begun to develop recently.
Service Level Agreements
- These are agreements entered into by two or more agencies to provide a specific service or resource. Typically this is between a voluntary/specialist agency and LA. Examples of these agreements are:
- Scottish Adoption Association providing placements and services to Edinburgh and the Lothians
- St Andrews providing a certain number of placements for Edinburgh
- BAAF providing a service to Edinburgh, Fife, Dumfries & Galloway in relation to the adoption/permanence panels
- The charges for resources/services are set by the individual agencies involved and reflect the time of staff involved, management costs and overheads. In general the charges levied for provision of families are set in line with BAAF recommended rates.
- These are arrangements that are made on a "spot purchase" basis i.e. one agency approaches another for a specific resource and is charged for it on that basis. Some agencies use the inter-agency rates recommended by BAAF which reflect LA pay scales for the worker time involved while other agencies set their own rates. Agencies in Scotland who typically provide 'one off' or specialist resources are primarily providing fostering placements rather than adoption i.e. Barnardos, NCH Action for Children and Jane Moore Trust.
- There are situations in Scotland when Local Authorities charge each other for providing a resource, but there is no Scotland-wide agreed process for charges.
England and Wales
- There are a number of different consortia in England and Wales and there has been encouragement to develop these mechanisms as a way of trying to meet children's needs locally. Service agreements also exist and the costs and charges involved vary. As regards inter agency placements, there is now established practice for charges to be levied and paid between local authorities as well as between local authorities and voluntary agencies and again the charges are those recommended by BAAF.