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BAAF closure “regrettable loss of independent agency”

British Association of Social Workers ‘surprised that BAAF was not sustainable’

The British Association of Social Workers Vice Chair Maggie Mellon says the British Association for Adoption and Fostering's closure is a regrettable loss of an independent agency working to ensure that fostering and adoption work across the UK is of a high standard.

Ms Mellon also said serious questions were raised by a highly regarded agency being unsustainable at a time when the number of children being adopted is rising.

In England, the Coram Group charity will take on a number of BAAF's functions, including research and policy and development. BAAF's role as an independent membership organisation will be taken by CoramBAAF academy for Adoption and Fostering. First4Adoption take on the National Adoption Register for England and Coram Children's Legal Centre will run the Independent Review Mechanism (England).

Funding for the work of Scotland's Adoption Register and the national adopter information helpline for Scotland has been transferred by the government to St Andrew's Children's Society. BAAF Northern Ireland and BAAF Wales will continue to operate on a limited basis for a brief period while alternative providers are considered.

Commenting on the closure, BASW Vice Chair Maggie Mellon said:

"BAAF is one of several charitable collapses recently and that is grounds for concern in itself. Why was BAAF's continued independent existence not possible given the extra resources being pumped by government into adoption? Are government and local authorities skimping on quality of training and consultancy in favour of quantity of adoptions?

"With so much more government funding being attached to increasing the numbers of children being adopted, it is surprising that BAAF was not sustainable and leads to questions about the ethical and training priorities for local authorities and other adoption agencies.

"While some of BAAF's functions have amalgamated with the Coram Group, it has now ceased to exist as an organisation in its own right and we really need to know more about the new organisational culture for the CoramBAAF academy for Adoption and Fostering.  Coram is itself an adoption agency and a possible conflict of interests is presented by this merger.

"BAAF has been an independent charity in its own right and this independence is very necessary in the face of government policy promoting adoption over prevention or other forms of permanency for children. BAAF also did not forget that birth parents and families' needs have to be recognised and met. We hope this integrity will not be lost in the formation of the new organisation.

"We are keen to see any new organisation understand and promote the range of permanence options for children and provide the support and resources to embed these principles in the new organisation."