Adoption service rated outstanding
Published: Thursday 29th September 11
The council’s work in arranging suitable adoptions for children and families has been given the highest possible rating by Government childcare inspectors.
The town hall's adoption agency which matches children with couples seeking to adopt has been awarded an "outstanding" rating for its services across the board.
Wandsworth is one of only a handful of local authority-run adoption services that have been given such a high rating by Ofsted inspectors
Over the course of their week long assessment, the inspection team examined every aspect of the adoption service, speaking to adopters, children, birth parents and staff. They also examined case files and other paperwork and carefully scrutinised all established policies and working practices.
The inspectors concluded: "The agency demonstrates excellent commitment to supporting children, adopters and birth families. The promotion of equality and diversity is seen as outstanding. The overall quality rating is outstanding."
The agency's work in protecting children from harm and neglect was also rated outstanding.
The inspection report added: "The agency demonstrates an excellent awareness of the children who require adoptive families which enables it to undertake appropriate well-focused recruitment activity.
"Good monitoring processes are in place to prevent drift. As a result children are placed for adoption without undue delay. Social workers demonstrated a sense of urgency to progress children's plans.
"Appropriate consideration is given to placing children with their siblings and with a family who meet their cultural, ethnic and religious needs. The recruitment, preparation, assessment and approval of adopters is a well thought-out and comprehensive process.
"The agency undertakes robust checks including former partners, employers and other local authorities.......This process ensures as far as possible that the adoptive parents are appropriately safe to care for children.
"Good quality assessments of adopters are analytical and competency-based to ensure potential adopters have the appropriate parenting skills and resilience to meet the challenges of adoption. The agency has an excellent, well thought out, formalised process for the matching, linking and introduction of children to their adoptive family.
"Adopters confirm they received sufficient information to enable them to make an informed decision about whether the proposed placement is right for them. The provision of high quality information both verbally and in writing, ensures they know what to expect both during the assessment process and when they adopt.
"Adopters are well supported by a range of services provided by the authority. The pre-approval process and ongoing training provides applicants with extensive information about the reality of adoption including the long-term effects on children of birth trauma, attachment and loss.
"Adopted adults seeking their birth records are assisted by team members before being referred to specialist agencies to conduct intermediary work including the tracing of birth family members. Providing support services to those people affected by adoption helps to promote their emotional well-being.
"The voices and preferences of birth parents are considered at all relevant points during the matching and adoption process. Their views are an integral part of the adoption of their child. These are taken into account when choosing proposed adopters, unless this is not in the best interests of the child. Birth parents whose children are adopted are offered high quality support and counselling.
"Service users report that they are treated with sensitivity and respect. Staff are provided with excellent support and training in this area.
"The agency is extremely well managed at all levels. There is an effective, strategic approach to improving outcomes for children. Social workers and mangers alike have appropriate skills, qualifications, knowledge and experience and this is backed up by their enthusiasm and commitment to the work of the agency. There are clear lines of accountability and good communication.
"The IT systems are secure......Adoption records are archived within storage facilities designed to keep the most sensitive data and documents safe."
Children's services spokesman Cllr Kathy Tracey said: "This glowing report is a great testament to the very sensitive, careful and supportive way that our staff deal with the whole process of adoption.
"This area of work is one of the most challenging functions of a local authority, with many difficult scenarios and potential pitfalls along the way. The fact that our systems and processes have been judged outstanding and that our staff are delivering this vital service with such aplomb and expertise is extremely gratifying.
"The staff who work in this field in Wandsworth should be rightly very proud of themselves. They deserve all the thanks and praise they get."