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Voluntary adoption agencies have accused councils of distorting the true cost of recruiting adopters, but this could be set to change as councils consider upping the fees they charge each other
Councils are negotiating to increase inter-agency adoption fees to ensure a level playing field between voluntary agencies and councils when recruiting adoptive parents.
In the past, voluntary adoption agencies (VAAs) have charged local authorities £27,000 for finding adoptive parents, while councils have charged each other £13,000.
This does not cover the true cost of the recruitment process, however, and VAAs have accused councils of distorting the picture and using voluntary agencies less as a result.
The Local Government Association (LGA), the Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) and Solace, which represents council chief executives, have now agreed to increase the fee between local authorities to £27,000 on the basis that this will create a more level playing field.
An ADCS spokesperson said directors are "working hard" to progress the talks, which would also encourage councils to recruit more adopters than they actually need.
Other proposals being investigated by councils include creating a national pool of adoptive parents, developing a national market for adopter recruitment and incentivising smaller councils to work together or join consortia when recruiting adoptive parents.
Authorities will also be encouraged to pay recruitment fees and offer social workers more support when looking at other permanent options for children, such as long-term fostering and kinship care.
Councillor David Simmonds, chair of the LGA's Children and Young People Board, said councils are moving forward on increasing both the number of adopted children and adoptive parents.
But he attacked the government for not moving as quickly on key proposals, such as the adoption gateway or reducing court delays.
David Holmes, chief of the British Association of Adoption and Fostering - who has previously called for a rethink on inter-agency adoption fees - said the LGA is right to highlight that family courts are still a significant cause of delay.
"In fairness, work is underway to address this but it is taking time to implement," Holmes said.
"It is heartening that local authorities are taking forward their own positive initiatives to make the adoption process more efficient and effective."
Government urged to look again at inter-agency adoption fees
Voluntary adoption agencies say they are being used less
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