Adopted children in Brighton and Hove are benefiting from a joined-up service which makes forming attachments between children and parents a priority, a Government report said today.
The city’s adoption services were singled out for praise by Ofsted in its national 2016 Social Care Annual Report.
Brighton and Hove City Council’s adoption team is the lead agency in the city. It has helped create a ‘culture of city-wide responsibility’ for adoption service by working very closely with the local NHS, youth services, schools, educational psychologists and voluntary groups.
Bradley Simmons, Ofsted’s South East Director, said this had made a significant and positive difference to the quality and extent of adoption support.
Sensitive and timely support helped children build trusting and enduring attachments to their adoptive parents.
Specialist parenting programmes were readily available, and the joint approach meant professionals could identify and respond swiftly and appropriately to meet adopted children’s additional needs.
Mr Simmons also praised the attention paid to targeting educational support for adopted children.
He said: “Brighton and Hove is a prime example of what can be achieved when senior leaders across a wide range of agencies work together to take collective responsibility, rather than seeing it as the sole charge of a local authority.”
The chair of the council’s children, young people and schools committee, Councillor Tom Bewick, said: “Good professional practice by our front-line children’s services staff combined with strong leadership are the keys to delivering high quality services.
“This praise confirms that we’re going about things the right way and are on track for achieving our goal of an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating by 2019.”
The NSPCC said Brighton and Hove’s adoption services should stand as an example to underperforming services in other parts of the country.
A spokesman said: “Today’s report shows too many local authorities are failing some our most vulnerable children with an unacceptable number of children’s services departments rated as inadequate.
“It is clear that this doesn’t have to be the case, as some are highlighted as having made dramatic improvements through strong leadership, staff confidence and increased resources.”
What the inspectors said:
In Brighton and Hove, the strong commitment and active engagement of senior leaders from a wide range of agencies has made a significant, positive difference to the quality and extent of adoption support.
A strategic steering group (including representatives from health, education, youth services, early years, early help, educational psychology, adoptive parents and voluntary agencies) has been central to building a culture of city-wide responsibility for adoption support rather than it being viewed as predominantly the concern and responsibility of the local authority adoption service.
The group has focused strongly on developing an ‘attachment-friendly’ Brighton and Hove, where professionals can identify and respond swiftly and appropriately to meet adopted children’s additional needs.
The city’s approach is underpinned by a support framework that is easily accessible and available to adopted children, adoptive parents and prospective adopters. An increasing number of adopters have benefited from attending a ‘safe base’ therapeutic, attachment-based parenting programme.
Life story workshops for adopters focus on sensitive and timely support that helps children to build trusting and enduring attachments to their adoptive parents.
Specific attention has been paid to targeting educational support for adopted children, including effective promotion of the pupil premium, available to children with adoption support needs. Well-attended workshops to assist children’s transitions into primary and secondary schools offer an attachment-based alternative to the more traditional behaviour-based models of managing children’s difficulties at school.
The adoption support website offers comprehensive information, highlighting a range of services from early years to post-16 education, and is easily navigable.
There are links for gay and lesbian adopters and minority ethnic adopters, which are particularly important in light of the broader diversity of adoptive parents in the city than elsewhere in England.
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