To consider a report from the Executive Director – People (copy enclosed)
Cabinet Members considered a report from the Executive Director – People (Deputy Chief Executive) which informed them on the development of proposals for a Regional Adoption Agency model and sought agreement of the Outline Business Case.
In 2015 the Government set out its commitment to require that all local authorities are part of a Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) by 2020. Any local authority not moving to this arrangement voluntarily would be subject to legislative powers and placed in an existing RAA.
The DfE in the Education and Adoption Act 2016 was clear about the requirement for all Local Authorities to be part of the national RAA programme. In neighbouring parts of the North West, Lancashire and Blackpool were working together to establish an RAA by the end of 2019.
Discussions between Cumbria County Council, Durham County Council and Sunderland City Council took place in late 2016 and recognised the potential of a coast to coast area. This was how the RAA partnership began.
The Project Plan outlined all aspects of the process of moving to a live RAA by October 2019. One of the early considerations to be undertaken was the type of organisation the RAA could and should be. Legal representatives of the three Local Authorities provided an options paper on the potential legal model for the RAA Governance Board to consider in October 2018. The Outline Business Case confirmed the outcome of this was that a host model was the preferred option.
All three councils had initially indicated their wish to be considered to perform the host function and be the lead authority for the RAA. The Governance Board had therefore agreed a competitive process which would be evaluated by an independent body, who would make a recommendation to the Governance Board. The Executive Director - People would provide updates to Cabinet on the outcome of this process.
All three adoption services were judged to be GOOD by OFSTED, and as a partnership they valued the strengths that each of the organisations brought to the RAA.
The report contained detailed information on the legal form of a Regional Adoption Agency and Cabinet noted the recommended option was for an RAA hosted by a single lead authority.
The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services asked that thanks be recorded from Cabinet to the officers that had worked on this. She then moved the recommendations.
RESOLVED that, Cabinet
(1) approve the principle of forming a Regional Adoption Agency comprising the areas of Cumbria, County Durham and Sunderland (Together for Children) working in partnership with five Voluntary Adoption Agencies in accordance with statutory requirements;
(2) approve the Outline Business Case for the RAA;
(3) note that Cumbria County Council is bidding to become the Host Authority when the RAA is established; and
(4) delegate authority to the Executive Director – People (Deputy Chief Executive), in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, to:
(i) consider and approve the Full Business Case for the RAA; and
(ii) agree the terms of all legal agreements required to establish and govern the operation of the RAA.