Ofsted inspections of adoption providers to be simplified

Inspection of adoption agencies is to be simplified in another part of the Government’s drive to improve the care children receive.

Ofsted, the quango that monitors all young people’s services including schools, is to focus its visits on four main areas rather than 13.

It will also cut the notice time given before inspectors arrive from eight weeks to 10 days.

Users of adoption agencies, including birth and adoptive parents as well as children themselves, will be able to give their views to Ofsted during inspections and also at any other time.

The move comes after the Government set up a group of experts to improve the “painfully slow” adoption process, which can leave vulnerable young people languishing in care for years while loving families are denied the opportunity to look after them because of their race or lifestyles.

John Goldup, Deputy Chief Inspector for Social Care at Ofsted, said: “Adoption is rightly under the spotlight at the moment – and we know that good adoption support can be critical to the success of adoption.

“These proposals will focus inspection on what matters most – the difference services are making to the lives of children and their families.

“If that support isn’t available, the result can be placement breakdown, which can be a devastating double rejection for children and traumatic for adopters who can be left with a huge sense of guilt and failure.”

The proposals were announced in a public consultation published on Tuesday, with special versions made in sign language and as well as in simplified terms for young people.

Adoption support agencies – which may trace birth records and relatives for adults as well as supporting adoptive parents and preparing children to move in with new families – are inspected once every three years and given plenty of time to prepare for the exercise.

Under the new plan, inspectors would give just 10 days’ notice to reduce the demands on the agency and allow them to see it operating normally.

Currently, Ofsted assesses 13 different areas of adoption providers including their “statement of purpose”, “equality and diversity” and “fitness of premises”.

They now plan to focus on just four areas – outcomes for service users, quality of service, safeguarding and leadership – before giving a judgement on the overall effectiveness of the provider.