County adoption service gets top marks

DEVON County Council s adoption service has been judged outstanding in a report released today by government watchdog Ofsted.

DEVON County Council's adoption service has been judged outstanding in a report released today by government watchdog Ofsted.

The report says the service provides 'exceptionally good outcomes' for the families who use it.

Inspectors judged three of the four areas of the service to be outstanding; protecting children from harm; helping them enjoy and achieve, and organisation. Helping children make a positive contribution was found to be good.

"The county provides a high quality recruitment, preparation and assessment service for prospective adopters which incorporates best practice and learns from self-evaluation," says the report.

"Adoption panel processes are robust, with welcoming, user-friendly panel meeting that have been able to respond to specific needs."

Adopters were also highly complimentary about individual staff. The report says post adoption support is of a high standard, which helps ensure that placements are supported, and that direct with work children is of exceptional quality.

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The service operates an effective recruitment strategy to ensure there are sufficient adopters to meet the needs of the vast majority of children waiting for a placement in Devon, say inspectors, adding: "The adoption team recruits so successfully that Devon is able to offer adoptive placements to other agencies to help meet the needs of children around the country."

Devon County Council's Cabinet Member for Children's Health and Wellbeing, Councillor Andrea Davis, said: "This report is a tribute to our superb adoption team, and reflects the trailblazing work the service is doing in Devon.

"It is really pleasing to see that service users have commented so positively about the service and individual staff. We are highly committed to providing a length and breadth of support which meets the needs of all our individual families and children, and I am delighted that many aspects of this service have been commented on so favourably by inspectors."

The report highlights the council's very successful Concurrency Care scheme - where very young children are placed with carers who are approved as both prospective adopters and as foster carers. The birth parents are given the opportunity to try to change their lives in order to have the child returned to them, but if this is not possible, the concurrency carers adopt the child. The first placement through this scheme has already received very positive feedback from the judiciary.

Devon County Council's Adoption Practice Manager, Brenda Thomas, said: "Concurrency care is a new and innovative approach to providing continuous care for some of our most vulnerable babies and infants, and we are really pleased that the success of this scheme has been noted by inspectors."

"We are currently looking to recruit more families to be prospective adopters, and I think this report illustrates our commitment in Devon to providing the necessary help and support to families who are considering this life-changing decision."

One of the other services singled out in the report is the county's letterbox scheme - where adoptive and birth families are encouraged and helped to remain in contact.

Letterbox co-ordinator Susan Galvin has just been awarded an MBE in the Queen's birthday honours, for her role with the adoption service. She has also been invited to the Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, which takes place on July 7.

Councillor Davis, who will be visiting the adoption service to thank staff and congratulate Susan on her award, said: "This wonderful tribute to Susan's work with the letterbox scheme really is the icing on the cake.

"I'm delighted to see individual members of the adoption service being recognised in such a fitting way, and this is a special honour for Susan and for Devon."

Anyone who would like more information on adoption can contact the service on 0845 155 1013 or e-mail


Note to News Eds: A copy of the inspection report can be viewed on the Ofsted website,

Councillor Andrea Davis is on 01271 883865.