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Would-be adopters get more support
Would-be adoptive parents are to be given more help in looking after children who are considered harder to place with families because of their age or circumstances.
Leading voluntary adoption agencies are spearheading a scheme that will give two years of support to those choosing to adopt children in care who are sometimes overlooked because they are older, due to their ethnic background, their additional needs or because they are in a group of siblings wanting a new home together.
They hope the new service, called It's All About Me (IAAM), will encourage more people to adopt those children.
It will include training in therapeutic parenting offered to families, with 24-hour assistance available in the first two years to reduce the risk of the placement failing.
The scheme has been developed by the Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies (CVAA) and professional services firm Baker Tilly, with 18 voluntary adoption agencies helping them to set it up.
CVAA chairwoman Jan Fishwick, chief executive of adoption agency PACT, which is to take part in the scheme, said: "There are many families who have a desire to adopt and who would provide a loving, stable home for these children.
"However, they may not have considered adopting an older child, they may doubt their own abilities, or be worried about a lack of long term support. We hope that this scheme will encourage them to come forward in the knowledge that they will receive comprehensive training and guaranteed guidance and support throughout the early years."
Jim Clifford, chairman of IAAM adoption and head of not-for-profit advisory at Baker Tilly, is himself adopted and has adopted nine children with his wife.
He said: "Adopting older children is not always easy, as many carry with them the legacy of neglect and trauma in their early years. However, with the right training and support, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience for both the parent and the child, and I would encourage anyone with an interest to find out more.
"We have had a fantastic response to the IAAM scheme from local authorities so far, many of whom recognise the benefit of working closely with the voluntary adoption sector. As well as improving outcomes for young people, the scheme should also help local authorities save money and improve long term planning for children in their care."
It is hoped 100 placements are found per year through the scheme, with that number rising to more than 300 with additional funding.
The finance for the programme has been provided through the first adoption social impact bond (SIB), with Bridges Ventures and Big Society Capital investing £2 million to pay for the scheme. It will be repaid by local authorities and the Cabinet Office's social outcomes fund from the savings made through not having a child in care for the same period of two years.
Each local authority will pay about £54,000 per child for the service over a two-year period, which is about half the cost of keeping a child in care for that time.
Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd, said: " Social investment, and new investments like SIBs, give us the chance to try new approaches to tackle social problems. It is a new source of funding to social enterprises and we are proud to be leading the world in developing it."