Prior to any residential placement being considered, all attempts to find a fostering placement have been exhausted. The decision is search for a residential placement is based on a thorough assessment of the needs of each child to determine if a residential placement is the only setting which can meet their needs.
All of Warrington children and young people are in a residential setting that has been rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted.
Although the number of Warrington residential placements with external providers is rising, almost half (20) of the young people have been in their current setting for over 12 months; 6 of which have been in their current home for two and a half years or more. This is evidence that the home is providing a safe, secure, stable setting and confirming that the initial matching, the needs and risk assessment and care planning is personalised to each child; minimising moves and improving the outcomes achievable for each child.
The stability of the residential placements is encouraged by collaborative working with stakeholders and providers with effective care planning and ‘move on’ accommodations being identified at an early stage. Children are fundamental in the decision making process to identify their semi-independent accommodation.
Adoption & Permanence
Together for Adoption, (TfA) Regional Adoption Agency is a shared Local Authority Service of five partners; Halton, Cheshire West and Chester, St Helens, Warrington, and Wigan. The service went live on the 1September 2017. The partnership was formed in line with the Government Policy Paper, “Regionalising Adoption” in 2015. All Local Authorities are required to regionalise their adoption services by 2020.
Wigan Council is the host Authority, and Cheshire West and Chester Council operates as the lead commissioner. The staff are currently seconded to Wigan.
Together for Adoption’s hub base is in Warrington, a central point in the geographical footprint for the partners:
The shared adoption service is part of the wider Children’s Social Care Service in all five local authorities and reflects each council’s commitment to ‘best practice’ in the provision of an innovative adoption service.
Together for Adoption has three Voluntary Adoption Agencies included as part of our development and governance of our adoption service; Adoption Matters, Caritas Care, and Nugent Care Their inclusion draws on the best practice from each of the partners and helps meet changing demands through the pooling of expertise and resources.
Vision for TfA
- All children for whom adoption is the plan for permanence are provided with an adoptive family that meets their needs.
- Those affected by adoption receive the information, support and advice that they need to understand their adoption journey.
- TfA families are well prepared, enabled and supported to care for children with plans for adoption.
In Children’s social care reform: a vision for change (2016) the government outlined its overarching vision for transforming the quality of children’s social care services by 2020. In respect of adoption, the government’s vision is for an adoption system where:
- Decisions about placements are always made in children’s best interests.
- Service delivery has at its heart innovation and practice excellence.
- Social workers are highly skilled professionals who make quality, evidence-based decisions and do not tolerate damaging delay for children in their care.
- Matches are made without unnecessary delay.
- Every adoptive family has access to an ongoing package of appropriate support with a right to a high quality, specialist assessment of need.
- The voice of adopters and their children is at the heart of national and local policy decision making and delivery of services.
Together for Adoption aims to:
- Provide all children who have a plan for adoption with an adoptive family that meets their needs.
- Reduce the length of time children wait to be adopted.
- Ensure that those who are affected by adoption, receive the advice support and information they need.
Together for Adoption delivers the following services;
- The recruitment of persons as prospective adopters;
- The assessment of applicant’s suitability to adopt a child;
- The approval of prospective adopters as suitable to adopt a child;
- Identifying a particular approved prospective adopter with whom it proposes a child be placed, as soon as reasonably practicable.
- Managing the process by which recommendations in individual cases are formally submitted to Adoption Panels and to facilitate consideration by the relevant local authority decision-maker.
- The provision of adoption support services, including facilitating post adoption contact with birth families, and access to birth records for adopted adults.
In Warrington, in 2019-20, 19 children (14.2% of children who ceased to be in care) were adopted during the year. This is an improvement since 2018-19 and above our comparators (all averages show 12% ceased to be in care through adoption).
Over the last 2 years there has been a rigorous focus on securing legal permanence for older children through Special Guardianship. In 2019-20, 24 children (17.9% of those children who ceased to be in care) were discharged from care to Special Guardianship, which is almost double the number when compared to our Statutory Neighbours (10%).
Young People aged 16+ and Care Leavers; Group, Supported, Semi-Independent and Independent Living Development & Plans
Warrington prides itself on offering suitable accommodation to children aged 16+ and care leavers and this will continue to be a priority for the council. As of the 31st March 2020 there were 74 children aged 16 plus who are children in care.
The high majority of these children remain in fully supported placements (foster care /children’s home), however a number as part of their pathway planning arrangements move into supported accommodation and then onto independent living. According to the Placements North West Census, we had 25 children aged 16 plus residing in these types of placement in December 2019, and although numbers have not increased significantly since 2018 (23), the costs have risen by 20%. This is currently higher than the regional average.