In March 2016, the government announced changes to the delivery of adoption services setting a very clear direction that all local authorities’ adoption services must be delivered on a regionalised basis by 2020. Legislation is in place to direct local authorities who do not engage in this programme. It is proposed that a new Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) is created through combining the adoption services for the three authorities of Kent, Bexley and Medway. These agencies wish to build on the success of their existing services to improve performance in meeting the needs of children who require permanence through adoption, by bringing together the best practice from each authority within the RAA. Kent, Medway and Bexley will enter into a legal partnership arrangement. One of the three local authorities will be required to a lead on certain aspects of business servicing and these will be agreed by the Executive Board. All three local authorities are keen to ensure this is an equal partnership, each holding shared responsibility for its outcomes.
Decision type: Key
Reason Key: Affects more than two Electoral Divisions;
Decision status: Recommendations Approved (subject to call-in)
Division affected: (All Division);
Notice of proposed decision first published: 30/07/2020
Anticipated restriction: Part exempt - View reasons
Decision due: Not before 24th Sep 2020 by Cabinet Member for Integrated Children's Services
Reason: In order that the proposed decision can be published for a minimum of 28 days, in accordance with statutory requirements
Lead member: Cabinet Member for Integrated Children's Services
Lead director: Sarah Hammond
Department: Education & Young People's Services
Contact: Sarah Skinner, Head of Adoption Service Tel: 03000 415090 Email: email@example.com.
A significant amount of consultation is underway. There are several workstreams operating to ensure that all the necessary planning and implementation work can take place between now and the go-live date. The full detail of the consultation plan is included in the business case but the workstream areas are as follows:
- Practice development & alignment
- Legal and governance
- Comms and engagement
- Adopter and adoptees voices
- Strategic and political engagement
This decision was considered and endorsed at the CYPE Cabinet Committee meeting in September 2020.
Financial implications: The partnership agreement will have a strong focus on financial equitability and the overall model of delivery will cost no more than the current cost of services collectively across the region. Each local authority will be asked to contribute no more than its current budget for delivering adoption services in year 1. The Kent Adoption budget for 2020-21 is just over £3,000,000.
Legal implications: The RAA will be underpinned by a partnership agreement setting out how the three local authorities will jointly exercise adoption service functions. It will set out the legal implications associated with joining the RAA and its inherent delegations. There is a risk to all Local Authorities who fail to join a regional adoption agency by 2020 as central government has the power to direct how its services would be delivered, if it deems it necessary to do so. This would reduce the influence the local authority has over its own service design and delivery.
Equalities implications: An equalities impact assessment has been completed and approved in respect of the service, as well as a staffing equalities impact assessment both of which identified a low impact rating. Staff are employed by different employers none of whom have control over the other and none of the pay grades come from a common source but are determined by each authority. HR leads for each Partner have undertaken a review of employee’s terms and conditions and minimal differences were identified.