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Radical plans to speed up the adoption process and reduce the amount of time looked after children are in care across the Black Country will go before Dudley Council’s cabinet next week.

A new agency, ‘Adoption@Heart’ would be created, combining the existing adoption services of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton councils.

It would allow each of the local authorities to work together as one organisation, combining their strengths to deliver services more effectively and efficiently.

The agency would allow authorities to improve experiences and outcomes for those wanting to adopt and most importantly the children who are in need of a permanent home.

The agency will be expected to radically reduce the amount of time it takes for a child and adopters to be matched as well as improving the life chances of neglected children.  It will also focus on ways to increase the number of people choosing to adopt.

By speeding up the adoption process and reducing the amount of time looked after children are in care, the agency would offer savings to each local authority.

Councillor Anne Millward, cabinet member for children’s services, said

“This new approach gives us and our neighbouring authorities the opportunity to fundamentally overhaul the way we deliver adoption services across the Black Country.

“Although the new agency offers a financial saving, it’s not the primary reason driving this project forward.  Our top priority is to deliver a first class service, which puts matching adopters and children at the heart of everything we do.

“Adoption isn’t a decision people take lightly, and as authorities we owe it those who choose this path, to support them through the process and match them with a child who they will love and care for as their own. 

“For the children it’s about avoiding lengthy spells in care and finding them a long term home, which offers stability, security and a fantastic childhood.”

The agency is being proposed in response to the government’s national programme, which expects all local authorities to adopt a regional agency by 2020. 

If approved, the agency would be in place by the summer of next year and all set up costs would be paid for by the Department for Education.

Members at Wednesday’s (July 19) cabinet meeting will be asked to approve the establishment of the agency as a Local Authority Trading Company, constituted as a Community Interest Company (CIC) and Company Limited by Shares (CLS). 

Existing staff would TUPE across to the new agency.

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