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All change for adoption service in Worcestershire
ADOPTION services are changing in Worcestershire - with four councils teaming up to create a bigger pool of potential families for youngsters in need.
Worcestershire County Council wants to team up with authorities in Shropshire, Hereford and Telford to launch a “West Mercia” style adoption department.
The move comes after concern taxpayers are forking out £1m every year for the service at County Hall, but often not enough suitable people come forward as potential adopters.
The four councils will save around £200,000 each by merging adoption together, with council chiefs saying it will speed up the process of selecting the right homes.
At the moment many children are left waiting because the families or individuals presenting themselves for an interview are not deemed a right match.
Likewise, children in areas like Shropshire and Warwickshire will also be matched-up alongside adopters in Worcestershire to see where the best ‘fit’ is.
Under the new deal, which is subject to a consultation, the entire ‘West Mercia’ region will actively be explored for the right home.
Councillor Adrian Hardman, county council leader, said: “A great driving force from this is a real desire to create a ‘sub-regional’ approach.
“It’s about trying to find better matches for the people coming forward for adoption, and I’m convinced this will do that.
“It’s possible a child might find the right match outside of Worcestershire - I see this as a long-term, permanent approach.”
The consultation will include talks with families that have already adopted to get their views on the system changes.
County Hall says it wants the single service to be in place by the end of 2014 or early 2015 “at the very latest”.
Councillor Marcus Hart, cabinet member for health and well-being, said: “David Cameron gave a speech at the Conservative conference and said 4,000 children have been adopted in the UK over the last year.
“Four thousand is a good number, but it doesn’t go far enough - having a more diverse regional service will speed up adoptions, it’s a big step in the right direction.”
Coun Liz Eyre, the cabinet member responsible for children and families, said: "This will give us economies of scale and allow a much faster process, but for me it's primarily about better outcomes for families and young people."
At the moment 25 staff work at the adoption service at the county council, compared to just 14 in Herefordshire, where it costs £458,000.
County Hall’s adoption team is rated as ‘adequate’ by Ofted, compared to the other councils who are all classed as ‘good’.
Since 1998 councils in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin have a joint adoption service, which will make the proposed changes easier to create.
That combined service costs £835,000, meaning Worcestershire's is the most expensive.
The Tory cabinet backed it at a meeting this afternoon.
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