Plans to join forces with other local authorities to increase the chances of looked after children finding permanent, loving homes will be considered next week.
The unique partnership will have the opportunity to maximise resources, cover a larger area and offer greater flexibility in placing children in happy homes via adoption, fostering or special guardianship.
Mark Sutton, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Children and Young People, said:
We work very hard at the early stages to keep families together and prevent children coming into care.
But if they do, and we cannot return them to their own homes, we are committed to finding them loving, safe and secure ones elsewhere.
Our children’s service was recently rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted and this initiative allows us to build on that achievement.”
The proposed North Midlands Regional Adoption & Permanency Partnership is backed by the Department for Education and involves working with Shropshire Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Telford and Wrekin Council.
Children from Staffordshire will remain the responsibility of the county council, but the joint project will provide a wider range of prospective adopters and carers to find the right home.
The partnership, which should be up and running by 2020, moves beyond the initial requirement by the DfE to provide a combined adoption service to also share resources for fostering, special guardianship and connected persons.
Speaking about the North Midlands Partnership, Children’s Minister Nadhim Zahawi praised its potential for raising standards, ‘by sharing best practice and driving improvement throughout adoption’.
The four partners are receiving financial support from the DfE to create the Partnership, the first of its kind in the country.
Mark Sutton added:
Only a small number of children enter the adoption system, but a much larger group need long-term permanence through fostering and the other options and as we develop the Partnership’s potential that is the area where we particularly believe we will make a huge impact over many years.”
Currently Staffordshire County Council has 1,164 looked after children. The proposal will be considered by the authority’s Cabinet next Wednesday.