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Strong support across sector for adoption panels in matching

CoramBAAF publishes results of sector survey

CoramBAAF has published a new report The Role of Adoption Panels in Matching based on a survey of over 200 respondents. The results show significant support for the retention of adoption panels in matching. With panels currently under threat from the government's efforts to implement Clause 29 (ie powers to test different ways of working) of the Children and Social Work Bill, this research offers a compelling case for rethinking their abolition.

The survey, by Roy Stewart and Elaine Dibben, was conducted in December 2015, prior to the publication of the Bill. There were 218 replies, including adopters, social workers, panel chairs and medical advisors.

CoramBAAF say that the strength of the responses demonstrates the added value provided by adoption matching panels in ensuring that there is evidence-based, carefully considered, child and adopter-centred matching. There is no more important decision that can be made in the life of a vulnerable child.

170 (79%) of respondents agreed that panels provided independent scrutiny of a significant life-changing decision while maintaining a child-focussed approach. Similarly, 72% agreed that value was provided by input from a group of experienced professionals and those with personal experience of adoption.  Of the 11 statements relating to the value added by adoption panels, only two received positive responses from less than 50% of respondents.  Although there were differences in response between adopters and professionals, there was a clear agreement on four key areas of value.

While some respondents to the survey raised important questions about the role of panels – particularly in relation to delay, lack of sensitivity and unnecessary administration – the overall picture resulting from the survey points clearly towards the importance of adoption panels for matching and a fear of adverse consequences should they be removed. The detailed and thoughtful comments from respondents convey the strength of feeling on this issue within the sector, and the importance of considering this data when making policy decisions.

John Simmonds, Director of Policy, Research and Development at CoramBAAF said:

"While nobody would stand in the way of progress when it comes to vulnerable children, the clause is drafted in such a way that it may result in significant disruption to a carefully designed adoption system.  The consequences of matching decisions are life long and fundamental to a child's future.  This survey conveys a strong message that having robust scrutiny of that plan and the decisions that follow must not be undone in the superficial name of innovation."

For the report, click here.