Ms S Skinner (Head of Kent Adoption Service) was in attendance for this item
(1) Ms Skinner introduced the report which set out how the recommendations endorsed by the Cabinet Committee in January 2020 had been discharged and provided an update on the progress made to develop a Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) in line with Government’s expectations for Adoption Services nationally. The report outlined the plans for Kent County Council’s involvement in the establishment of a RAA with the London Borough of Bexley and Medway Council, which would be known as Adoption Partnership south east and would ‘go live’ on 1 November 2020.
Ms Skinner then responded to a number of comments and questions from Members, including the following: -
a) Ms Skinner referred to one of the schedules within the partnership agreement and explained the panel process in further detail.
b) Ms Skinner confirmed that independent panel Members had been asked if they wished to continue to remain sitting on a panel and the closing date for their expressions of interest was on 18th September 2020.
c) Ms Skinner stated that the decision as to whether or not a care plan is the correct care plan for a child remained with the responsible local authority.
d) Ms Skinner said that the Head of the RAA was responsible for the adopter approvals.
e) Ms Skinner referred to the business case which had been presented to the Committee in January 2020 which outlined in detail the government’s view in terms of the benefits of RAAs which were to improve the timeliness for children so that children could move to their permanent family as quickly as possible and to improve post-adoption services for families.
f) Ms Skinner said that if Kent wished to change any component of the partnership agreement, there would be a partnership board in which Kent’s Director of integrated children’s services would be a part of to represent Kent along with the other counterparts in Medway and Bexley and other officers. She added that Kent would need to liaise with the DfE in terms of withdrawing completely from an adoption agency.
g) Ms Skinner talked about the calculation of future budgets and referred to the business case and the expectation of a future demand-led model.
(2) RESOLVED that the decision proposed to be taken by the Cabinet Member for Integrated Children’s Services to:
a) agree to Kent County Council’s involvement in the establishment of Adoption Partnership south east in accordance with the Department of Education’s regional adoption programme; and
b) approve the accompanying Partnership Agreement subject to there being no significant changes and grant delegated authority to the Director of Integrated Children’s Services (East) in consultation with General Counsel to approve any changes,