THE second phase of a ground-breaking scrutiny of adoption in Cheshire West and Chester was launched this week.
Somewhere Over the Rainbow – the poignantly titled report on the review’s first phase – has already attracted Government attention and is being put forward for the national Good Scrutiny Awards 2013.
Cllrs Margaret Parker and Howard Greenwood spent five months of 2011-12, probing every stage of the adoption process following concerns over the numbers of children placed by the authority.
In their scrutiny year, eight children were adopted in West Cheshire and 15 adoptive parents approved. By 2012-13, adoptions had doubled and the number of approved families had risen to 27.
On March 31 this year, a further 19 children were living with their prospective adoptive family and waiting for an Adoption Court hearing and an additional 22 designated by the authority for adoption.
The report made 16 wide-ranging recommendations including the provision of specific emotional, health and well being support for adoptive children – all adopted by Executive.
Cllr Parker said: “We were firm but fair and determined to make a difference. Thanks to a tremendous response from staff and re-organisations within Children’s Services, we have come a long way in a very short time.
“However, there will be no complacency. We must keep on improving to meet the demand from rising numbers of children coming into our care and encouraging even more potential adopters to come forward, is absolutely vital.”
Second phase of the scrutiny will examine how the 16 recommendations are affecting service delivery and the effects of the Government’s National Family Justice Court Review which recommends 26 weeks between interim care order and a final court decision on adoption placement.
Cllr Greenwood added: “We were both profoundly affected by the problems we encountered during the review – those of the children needing a safe and loving home and sometimes of the people who were trying to provide it.
“The title for the report was chosen for a very good reason. It might sound a little melodramatic but we do strongly believe that somewhere over the rainbow, there should be a loving family waiting for every child that needs one.
“We are determined to do as much as we can in the second half of the review to ensure that this is the case in West Cheshire.”