Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies

Newsletter 2016/5
National Headlines      

Court has ordered re-hearing in significant case re:W
The court of appeal upheld a challenge brought by prospective adopters against a family court decision to dismiss their application to adopt a girl and instead make a special guardianship order (SGO) with the girl’s paternal grandparents. The two year old child had been placed with prospective adopters for most of her life when her paternal grandparents emerged as potential carers.  The case will now be reheard.

The judgement is interesting in many respects, including points made about the interpretation of Re B-S, and of the phrase 'nothing else will do'.  Social workers were criticised for misunderstanding the requirements of the welfare checklist and for the absence of any sense of the child in the reports.

For a full citation of the case, 
click here

For a summary, follow this link to an article from Community Care.  

Letter from the Chair of the Adoption Leadership Board
Andrew Christie has written a letter addressed to Regional Adoption Boards regarding his plans for his new role as Chair for the Adoption Leadership Board. Andrew Christie opens up for a closer cooperation with the RABs to ensure the ALB will be engaged, informed and confident about its work with the adoption system in order to provide the best outcomes for children and families affected by adoption.  The ALB, and Andrew Christie, is looking for an early opportunity for fuller consultation with VAAs - more details will follow shortly.   Read the full letter here.

Adoption Support Fund
CVAA will now receive the same information as LAs regarding any changes to policies or processes concerning the Adoption Support Fund and will circulate details to members.  In the meantime, we have received the following message from DfE as they have revised the expenses policy for the English Adoption Support Fund (the revised policy is in a link below):

Newsflash: ASF: Revised Expenses Policy

Dear Colleagues,

The Adoption Support Fund is funded by government through public monies. We wish to ensure that as much as the Fund as possible goes towards the direct delivery of adoption support to families and children and that funds are utilised with value for money in mind. The DFE have therefore made some changes to the expenses policy.

Please review the attached revised policy carefully and share with your providers as you see fit. The updated policy will come into effect on 8th of August 2016.

Please do not hesitate to contact us on the details below should you have any queries.

Kind regards,
Adoption Support Fund Team

Telephone: 01223 463517

Please find the revised expenses policy here.

Improving mental health and emotional wellbeing support for children and young people in care
Information about the Expert Group for mental health is now available on the LAC project website.
The overall aim of the project is to ensure that the emotional wellbeing and mental health needs of children and young people in care, those adopted from care or under a Special Guardianship Order (SGO), and care leavers are better met.
The Expert Group has an advisory role and combines the knowledge of experienced professionals from the health, social care, academic and voluntary sectors, people who use services, together with the project team. Hugh Thornbury from Adoption UK is a member of the Expert Group. Check out the website here:

Newsletter from the Adoption Support Fund
The newsletter from July is available to read here
CVAA News  

Practice and Improvement Fund grants to CVAA - and recruitment!
CVAA is pleased to have been awarded grant funding to continue and extend our support to the Adoption Leadership Board, and is also in the process of discussing with the Department for Education grant funding to continue some of the system capacity building work that the sector has benefited from over the past 18 months.  We'll let you have more detail about both of these pieces of work soon - but in the meantime we are recruiting and would be grateful for your help in encouraging good applicants to apply.  The full job advert can be found on our website:

Data dashboards

We have issued the first round of data dashboards to English members.  These will be sent to all members of CVAA on a quarterly basis as part of our membership service. There are two documents: the (blue) sector dashboard gives an overview of data on the entire adoption system, including local authorities and children; the (green) individual agency dashboard gives data on your agency, comparing key measures against other VAAs.


You might want to use the sector dashboard to help you understand the market better and think about your strategy for recruiting adopters; similarly, you may wish to use your individual dashboard to get a sense of how your agency performs in relation to other agencies in the VAA sector.


We would be really interested to hear your thoughts on these dashboards – how they could be improved, what is useful and what is not, and how you might use this data as an agency. We plan to run these dashboards for two full quarters, after which we will look at making any changes to them.


The dashboards were created using the ALB data, and so their accuracy depends on you filling in returns fully and correctly. For several agencies data is missing, incomplete, or incorrect. We have been able to use the data gathered from the Expansion Grants programme to fill in some of these gaps in order to provide a full set of dashboards. But in future quarters if the data collected through the ALB collection is incomplete, we will not be able to produce these dashboards for your agency.


If you have any questions or would like to discuss these dashboards further, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Alex -

Data collection for Celtic agencies is in progress and dashboards for these members will be issued in the coming weeks.

CVAA Plans                                   

CVAA Board meeting
The CVAA Board is meeting on 12 September.  The Board will discuss funding and the interagency fee; increasing VAA market share in the context of regionalisation; a new strategy and budget for CVAA; and a new governance structure.  The Board will also look back at the experience of the expansion grants programme and consider lessons to be learned.  As usual, we'll provide feedback on these issues after the meeting.

Website improvements
CVAA is currently working with a web designer to improve the CVAA website. These improvements will cover the pages for members where we will be sharing resources and information from the Expansion Grants Programme and the System Capacity Building Programme (SCB). All CVAA member agencies have a login to these pages. If you have forgotten you login, please email and we will send you the details.

Events and opportunities

Members' meeting in November
CVAA is planning to have a meeting for all member agencies on Tuesday 15th November from 11-15:00 in London. While we work to secure a venue, we would ask you to please hold the date. CVAA will be sending out an official invitation very soon.  

The Family Justice Observatory has launched a call for evidence (England and Wales)
Lancaster University is leading a research team to undertake a scoping study for a new national family justice observatory. The team has now launched a call for evidence. This is an opportunity for VAAs give their views on ways to improve the use of research evidence across the family justice system and to help shape the future of any national observatory that may be established.

Further information about the scoping study is available at the project website:  If you would like to contribute via CVAA, please email with your evidence no later than Thursday the 27 October 2016 to make sure it reaches the research team before the deadline.

Emails about adoption in the media
CVAA has set up a news alert and receives emails everyday with links to articles about adoption in the UK. We review and collate these and circulate within CVAA.  If you are interested in receiving these emails, please sign up by emailing

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