We analysed data from across Wales between 2015 and 2017 and interviewed senior managers from local authority adoption teams.
Our review looked at the quality and consistency of adoption services across Wales.
Arrangements at national, regional and local level are known collectively as the National Adoption Service for Wales. This was launched in November 2014 and brought together Welsh local authority adoption services.
It also includes partnerships with voluntary adoption agencies, health and education services as well as others.
All 22 Welsh councils continue to provide services to all looked-after children whilst identifying and working with those children for whom a plan for adoption is appropriate.
Local authorities also work together in five regional groups to provide a range of adoption services.
We liaised with the Director of Operations in the National Adoption Service to carry out our review of how the national arrangements for adoption are developing.
The clear direction and intent of the National Adoption Service for Wales has benefited the children and families affected by adoption. There has been a high level of investment in terms of officer time, and we found there is a shared direction, with stakeholders who have committed time and resources to work creatively to address the challenges of providing a consistent, high quality adoption service. This has raised the profile of adoption across the social care and public sector.
However, the arrangements to deliver the service across Wales remain inconsistent. While this may be a response of local circumstances, it can be challenging to implement quality standards.
Productive partnerships with third sector organisations have improved the sharing of good practice and the potential of creative and promising initiatives in the future.
There is a common understanding of barriers to better outcomes and what resources are needed. While timeliness in placing children for adoption has improved, the numbers of children waiting for an appropriate adoptive placement has fluctuated, beginning to rise again in 2016-17.
We recently published our report on Western Bay adoption service. We will continue to inspect regional adoption arrangements over the next 18 months and will be reviewing our approach in line with the Regulation and Inspection of Social Care (Wales) Act regulations for adoption, due to come in to force in April 2019.
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