A key issue which cannot be ignored is the level of resources required to implement this blueprint. This is extremely difficult to quantify given the differences between LAs/RAAs and VAAs. In line with the approach of this study, to try to identify benchmarks which will be useful to others, the budget below sets out the anticipated total costs of operating one of the Centre of Excellence for Adoption Support Services for the financial year 2019/20.
To put these figures into context:
At any one time in the previous year this agency had approximately 450 open adoption support cases and 200 referrals awaiting allocation.
It has reorganised its duty system to address this but estimates that it requires a further 2-3 FTE Social Workers in order to clear this backlog and to provide a timely response to all enquiries.
It also recognises that it does not currently facilitate enough peer-to-peer support and is seeking funding for a buddying/mentoring service.
Approximately a third of all cases were requests by adopted adults for access to records.
Over the financial year 2018-19, the agency successfully applied for approximately £850,000 of funding from the Adoption Support Fund which was spent on purchasing external services from the third sector.
The agency is on course to approve 91 adopters in the year 2018-19.
The example above illustrates that a multi-disciplinary service, providing psychiatric, clinical and educational psychology services and support to social workers and adopters, can be obtained for approximately £270k per year. Whilst evaluation of this service is still taking place, feedback from staff and adopters suggests that this has provided a step-change in the quality of provision. Given that this RAA covers five local authorities, this is perhaps not as expensive as some might have anticipated and a business case, based on subsequent cost avoidance, is not difficult to make across social care, health and education sectors.
However, this example also illustrates that if core adoption support resources are not sufficiently available from LAs/RAAs, any additional psychology support is likely to be less effective. A lack of social workers to undertake initial assessments means that, adopters wait longer for assessments and access to more specialist support when required. A balance between core social work provision and additional multi-professional/multi-agency resources is therefore important in improving effectiveness.