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  Agenda Item No. 4

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 2nd November, 2015

 

Report of the Director of Social Services

 

Update on the New Vale, Valleys and Cardiff Regional Adoption Collaborative

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. The purpose of this report is to provide Committee with an update on progress following implementation of the Vale, Valleys and Cardiff Regional Adoption Collaborative.

Recommendations

  1. That Committee notes the report and the work achieved to date.
  2. That Committee agrees to receive a further report in line with the requirements of the Partnership Agreement.

Reason for the Recommendations

1 & 2 To enable Committee to exercise scrutiny of this key statutory function.

Background

  1. On 28th November 2014, Cabinet approved the business case, service delivery model and implementation plan for creating the Vale, Valleys and Cardiff Regional Adoption Collaborative. The recommendations in this report were resolved also by the Cabinets in Cardiff, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil during December 2014. The Vale of Glamorgan Council act as host authority for the Collaborative.
  2. In March 2015, Welsh Government published the Joint Adoption Arrangements (Wales) Directions 2015, which prescribe the geographical areas for collaboratives and the governance structure for adoption services at a national and regional level.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The Vale, Valleys and Cardiff Regional Adoption Collaborative became operational on 1st June 2015 when adoption staff transferred to the employment of the Vale of Glamorgan Council under TUPE transfer arrangements and to their central operational base at Ty Pennant in Pontypridd. The merger of the local authority adoption services within the region on this date was the culmination of considerable effort and joint working on the part of all partners
  2. In line with the requirements outlined in the Directions Powers, the Steering Group formed to oversee implementation of the Collaborative was established as the Management Board in July 2015.
  3. The first meeting of the Joint Committee took place on 16th September 2015. It comprises a lead Member from each of the partner local authorities, with attendance by the four Heads of Service and the Regional Adoption Manager.
  4. The Joint Committee will agree the draft budget and the Annual Collaborative Plan by 31st December each year. There is also a requirement under the Agreement for an Annual Review of the Collaborative to be undertaken within three months of the end of the financial year. This Review and an Annual Report prepared by the Regional Adoption Manager must be submitted to the Joint Committee and subsequently to the Scrutiny Committees in each of the four local authorities.
  5. To encourage additional transparency and an early exchange of information, the Management Board agreed to share with the relevant Scrutiny Committees an initial progress report produced by the Regional Adoption Manager and approved by the Board and the Joint Committee. The progress report is attached at Appendix I. The report summarises the challenges and achievements of the Collaborative to date and the focus for the work going forward. The report details the overall performance of the Collaborative alongside relevant targets. It also includes information on the following:
  • Governance
  • Staffing and resources
  • Service delivery
  • Performance management
  • Budget and financial considerations.
  1. The report describes how creating the regional adoption services has involved significant change for staff and for the way adoption services were formerly delivered. This has posed challenges but considerable commitment has been demonstrated by all staff and every organisation to maintain business continuity and to minimise the disruption for service users. There is good evidence that the service is now entering a period of greater stability and consolidation. The introduction of new staff to the region and the commitment shown to meet the staffing shortfall has had a positive effect in developing ownership of the Collaborative amongst staff and in promoting regional working. Once staff are in place and those new to adoption practice are fully equipped to undertake the role, it is anticipated the benefits of collaborative working will be further realised and performance levels enhanced.
  2. The work done by Welsh local government in creating a national adoption service delivered centrally and through regional collaboratives such as Vale, Valleys and Cardiff has met with considerable acclaim. There were particular challenges for our region as it brought together local authorities which had never previously operated a collective adoption service. It is very pleasing to report the progress made in achieving this joint enterprise, with its considerable potential for improving a crucially important service for children and families.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. Existing budgets and expenditure within each local authority were reviewed before the Collaborative was established and an indicative budget for the first year of operation put in place. This budget is subject to regular monitoring and will be further considered by the Finance Technical Group for the Region in October 2015 and reported to the Management Board in December 2015.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. Working on a regional basis will provide opportunities for increased specialisation and more efficient management of the overall adoption workload. The Regional Manager will be responsible for ensuring that more flexible working practices by staff offset the need for some of them to travel further from home to work and to visit families. The position will be monitored throughout the first year and then reviewed.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. A Partnership Agreement underpinning the operation of the Collaborative took effect from 1st June, 2015.
  2. Work is ongoing to review and revise existing policies and procedures, to incorporate the impact of delivering adoption services at local, regional and national levels.
  3. The Adoption Agencies (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (the regulations) that came into force on 1st April 2014 provide for any 2 or more Adoption Agencies (No limit on numbers) to hold both a central list of panel members and adoption panels.
  4. The aim of the regulations is to provide greater flexibility for adoption agencies when constituting an adoption panel, whether or not on their own or jointly. The amendments are to give effect to the implementation of the National Adoption Service, and in particular the operation of the regional collaboratives.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. There are no specific crime and disorder implications associated with this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. In considering this matter, the decision-maker must have regard to the Council's duties under the Equality Act 2010. Pursuant to these legal duties, Councils must, in making decisions, have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination; advance equality of opportunity and; foster good relations on the basis of protected characteristics.
  2. The equalities implications are set out in the Equality Impact Assessment appended to the Cabinet report approved on 28th November, 2014. It is envisaged that the Collaborative will better promote equal opportunity for prospective adopters and those requiring support services by ensuring consistency of response and approach. The Collaborative will also increase placement opportunity and choice for children requiring adoptive placements.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. Children and young people are engaged and supported to take full advantage of life opportunities in their community and beyond - Corporate Plan Outcome 2013/17.
  2. The provision of a quality Adoption Service meets the outcomes expressed in the Social Services Directorate Service Plan 2015/19.
  3. To provide children and young people with a clearly planned journey through care and to achieve permanence wherever appropriate to do so is a key principle underpinning the Council's Children and Young People Services Commissioning Strategy 2013/18.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. The contents of the business case for the regional collaborative were subject to consultation with staff and recognised trade unions. In accordance with each local authority's collective agreements, consultation with their respective trade unions was ongoing throughout the period prior to implementation. There was also staff consultation and engagement and this has continued post implementation.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Social Care and Health.

Background Papers

Cabinet report 28th November, 2014: Establishing the Vale, Valleys and Cardiff Regional Adoption Collaborative

Contact Officer

Rachel Evans, Head of Children and Young People Services

Officers Consulted

Vale, Valleys and Cardiff Regional Adoption Collaborative Management Board and Joint Committee.

Responsible Officer

Philip Evans, Director of Social Services

 

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