Journal Article

Recruiting Adoptive Families: The Costs of Family Finding and the Failure of the Inter-Agency Fee

Julie Selwyn and Joe Sempik

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 41, issue 3, pages 415-431
Published in print April 2011 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online June 2010 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcq075
Recruiting Adoptive Families: The Costs of Family Finding and the Failure of the Inter-Agency Fee

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In England, adoption provides a new family for children in care who are unable to return home. The number of adoptions peaked in 2005 but adoptions have since been declining. One possible factor in the decline is the reluctance of local authorities (LAs) to use adopters approved by voluntary adoption agencies (VAAs) and this may have led to children not being placed. There is a perception that VAA adopters are expensive because a higher inter-agency fee is charged. Meanwhile, many VAA adopters are waiting for a placement. The aim of this study was to consider whether the inter-agency fee was a good reflection of the expenditure incurred by LAs and VAAs. The adoption team accounts of ten LAs and seventeen VAAs were examined and it was found that their average expenditure was similar, as were their overhead rates. However, this expenditure was substantially more than the inter-agency fee. It was found that the fee has failed in its purpose to encourage inter-agency cooperation and provide full cost recovery. The VAA sector is in crisis, services are not sustainable and the children who are likely to suffer from closures are those who are older, of minority ethnicity and those needing a placement as a sibling group.

Keywords: Adoption; inter-agency fee; costs; voluntary adoption agencies; sustainability

Journal Article.  6920 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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