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Entire Adoption Team Leave

An interesting Scrutiny for Policies, Children and Families Committee this morning featured an update on the adoption service. You may recall that last year Devon County Council, Plymouth and Torbay authorities joined with Somerset County Council to provide a regional adoption service.

The idea is a simple one and driven by central government. By increasing the geographical reach of the service the opportunity to match children needing adoption with adopters, should be improved.

The new service, “Adopt South West” came into being on 1st October 2018. It was to be “hosted” by Devon County Council, the other authorities combining their adoption teams into the host service.

The update provided this morning revealed that the entire Somerset assessment team have reigned either in the course of the move or in the 6 months after it. The Scrutiny Committee were told there was a “colliding of cultures” and referenced the dissatisfaction of  staff with the new management culture in Devon. You might say that is an anecdotal criticism, but when the dissatisfaction is so high that staff are prepared to walk out of their jobs, that does not send a good signal.

Ironically a number of those staff were subsequently re-employed in different roles in Somerset County Council – which suggests our own authority is at least doing something right in its employment practise..

On the plus side the number of children in Somerset waiting for adoption has not changed significantly. It also has not improved. Hopefully these will turn out to be teething problems only, but it did not leave the most positive impression of where the service was heading.

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