Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Delays on the line.....

It's been a while since I wrote anything about our second adoption. That's mostly because there has been very little to write about.  Our Local Authority seems to be having difficulties with the number of staff vs the number of adopters they are trying to get through the system.  

The result is delays!

So far we've attended our preparation course and are waiting for a Social Worker to be allocated to us.  We had a phone call a couple of weeks ago from the Local Authority to say that there would be a delay in allocating us a Social Worker because they were waiting for the right Social Worker to become available for us.  Interesting wording we thought.  

During that phone call the Social Worker said that they wanted to push on with getting our medicals and references completed so that we could at least get some of the paperwork ready.  She then realised that we hadn't yet completed the application form to enable us to be officially invited to be assessed.  I wanted to sigh and shake my head in exasperation at this point but I used to work for this department and know how short-staffed and pressurised everyone is.  I feel we have to cut them some slack. I'm not sure I would have been able to do this on our first adoption though when the urgency was much greater.  Instead I'm going to focus on getting our PAR as ready as I possibly can so that we pick up the baton easily once things are up and running again.

We are actually lucky because our LA has contacted all the prospective adopters who attended the prep course the month after ours and informed them that they are unable to process their applications due to the staff shortages and recommending that they approach neighbouring LAs.  All this in a time when David Cameron is politically promoting that the adoption process be speeded up in the UK.  I do wonder if he really has a clue what it's like for everyone involved in the adoption process and what the outcomes of these changes are going to be.  By "everyone" I mean the children; the Social Workers; the Foster Carers; the prospective-Adopters and everyone else working hard to find permanent homes for children in care.  How on earth can you promote the improvement and speeding up of a system in a time of austerity and cutbacks to public funding?  I'm not that much of a maths whizz but even I can see that you need more money to improve a service, not less! Of course you could hypothesise that if you invest more money in employing additional Social Workers then you could potentially get a cost saving from less money being required to fund foster care because more children could theoretically be placed into adoptive homes. Just a thought....

Interesting though if you read between the lines (see below) the improvements to the system appear to be focused on the matching process (including ethnic matching and the foster/adopt process) and not the actual approval process:

"The government has announced three changes which it says will speed up the system:
  • Local authorities will be required to reduce delays and not delay adoptions "for the perfect match"
  • Legal changes to make it easier for children to be fostered by people approved for adoption so that a child might be fostered by someone who goes on to adopt them
  • If an adoptive match is not found locally in three months, local authorities will have to put the child on the national adoption register"

This leaves many people waiting frustratingly long periods of time to get on prep courses; be allocated Social Workers; and actually be approved so that they can benefit from the speeded up matching process.  It's all very well speeding up the matching process but that's not particularly useful if there aren't the approved adopters waiting to be matched!  It doesn't really take a genius to see that and I'm definitely not a genius!

So come on Mr Cameron.  What are your plans for this part of the process?  Put your money where your mouth is and get the whole process better funded with more adopters approved and available to be matched with the children that are currently the statistics waiting for a family!  There are lots of us out there who want to do this - help us do it! At the moment we seem to be walking backwards, not forwards!  Remember there are children at the heart of this.  Having been through this process once we can see first-hand the benefit that one child has had from living in a positive environment.  There are huge opportunities waiting out there for so many children but they are being denied these opportunities because adopters are being put off adoption with excessive negativity and those who persist are often delayed within through the approval system due to lack of Social Workers.

Rant over....now I'll go back to waiting patiently......


6 comments:

  1. Hoping for you guys! Excited to hear about #2! Do you have names chosen? Are you hoping for either sex?

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  2. Hiya Kate. We think we want to have another girl as we feel that might be better for Katie but will discuss this with our SW. We don't get to name the children really, a lot would depend on their age and safety issues. We will choose a middle name though. Not being able to name your child is one of the hardest bits around most adoption I think. I do know of some adopters in the UK who have changed the names but it isn't encouraged here, partly because many children are that bit older and already know their name and partly because it's part of their heritage and it may be important to them in the future. It's a tough one. I think it's an issue we will keep under review for when the time comes. I do have some blog names in mind though LOL

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  3. I completely agree. All very well said and worth putting in an email to David Cameron and Tim Loughton. I'd be very interested to read their responses.

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  4. Many people are called by their middle name. The child may be legally e.g. Crystal Elisabeth (Elisabeth being your choice) but if the family started calling her Lizzie that's who she would become, without taking away her heritage.

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  5. Oh frustrating to be waiting, but yes easier to cope with the waits second time around! Hope the 'right scoial worker' becomes available soon!

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  6. I feel your frustration... its not like that in our local authority so it does rather depend where you are in the country. Of course Cameron has no idea at all its Gove and Loughton who have cobbled the plan together... (you'd think Gove, being adopted, would be a bit more on the ball but sadly he's not). I'd like to see how The newly launched Adopters' Charter works in practice especially in your particular authority.
    I'm very proud to sit on an adoption panel that has contributed to the LA's adoption team's outstanding rating from OFSTED, I just wish other authorities were as good. As you say children are at the heart of this and they are the most important factor.

    Great blog post, good luck with your second journey x

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