New partnership will help children find long-term stability

CHILDREN needing adoption should be able to find a long-term solution more quickly, thanks to an innovative project.

Shropshire Council, Staffordshire County Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Telford & Wrekin Council are joining forces to create the Together4Children adoption agency.

Backed by the Department for Education, which has invested more than £600,000 in developing the project, Together4Children will focus on achieving permanent placements for adoption faster than before.

Previously there could be a situation where a single authority had older siblings who didn’t want to separate and parents looking for a single baby, or children with a specific cultural background and no prospective parents available – so children stayed in short term placements and the adults were frustrated.

Now, the four authorities will share information on children and the prospective parents available to increase the opportunities of keeping family groups together, finding loving homes for older children, and those who have other specific needs.

The Together4Children partnership, which is fully operational this month, is one of the first of its type in the country and builds on central government’s goal of creating regional adoption services by joining forces to improve services for all children who need long-term and permanent care.

The four authorities will maintain current levels of investment in the service that fall within the partnership arrangements and each council will retain responsibility for children from its area.

The initial partnership will be for two years, with the option for a further three until September 2025. The Partnership’s aim is to progress to long-term fostering and guardianship.

The partnership hopes to place around 130 children a year for adoption.

Mark Sutton, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for Children and Young People, pictured, said: "Increasing the number and diversity of potential families across the region widens the choice of potential adopters, which helps us achieve the best outcomes for children by helping to keep siblings together, find loving homes for older children, and for children who have other specific needs.”

Coun Dave Evans, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for Children and Young People, said: "The great thing about this partnership is that it means children can find a home quicker, providing a stable place for them to grow and achieve. This allows children to have better health and wellbeing, achieve more at school and have a better life.”

* Adoption – Adoptive parents have full legal parental rights for the children they adopt. Contact with the children’s birth family is maintained with the support of adoption service.

* Special Guardianship – provides the carers of a child with the majority of parental rights. Many Special Guardians are relatives of the child in their care. Children often maintain their relationship with their parents.

* Long-term fostering – Children remain in the care of the Council with the foster carers providing care, often through to adulthood. The child maintains their relationship with their family with the support of carers and the Council.

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