AFA SCOTLAND UPDATE
Adoption Week Scotland
A full programme of events is being planned by AFA Scotland and Adoption UK as part of Adoption Week Scotland, running from 20 - 25 November – not to be confused with the First For Adoption National Adoption week covering England and Wales that runs in October. Information roadshows will take place in Aberdeen , Stirling, Glasgow and Galashiels during the week.
A conference focusing on resilience and recovery will be held at the Hilton Edinburgh Carlton on Friday 24 November. Delegates will have opportunity to hear from Guest speaker, Lisa Cherry and view the film documentary “Resilience - the biology of stress and the science of hope” and take part in a series of workshops. The week will conclude with a family event on the Saturday. Information packs will shortly be distributed to agencies to help with running local campaigns in parallel with our events. Please contact AFA Scotland or Adoption UK if you require any further information.
Health Group Seminar
The seminar on Friday 15th September generated lively discussion on the complexities of the medical adviser’s role in the light of new research and changing family placement practice. The presentations about the legal and historical context, about the challenges of working with foster carers to ensure their own health needs are properly considered, about using available data on looked after children to inform policy and practice and about new approaches to engaging birth parents at a much earlier stage, stimulated really useful debate about the challenges of the role and the way that health and social work need to work collaboratively to ensure the right information is available to make timely decisions for children and families. AFA Scotland has undertaken to take this work forward through support to the medical advisers’ forum.
Recruitment of Trainer
AFA Scotland is delighted to welcome Jane Steele who started as the new Trainer Consultant at the beginning of October. Jane has worked for many years in children’s services as a practitioner and manager, most recently managing the fostering services for North Ayrshire Council. Her interest in making research and learning accessible to practitioners and her range of experience in relation to fostering, adoption, kinship care and in promoting therapeutic support for children, will make her a great asset to the service and we are looking forward to benefitting from her breadth of experience and knowledge.
Independent Care Review
The Independent Care Review is tasked with completing a root and branch review of the care system in Scotland in order to deliver lasting change that transforms the wellbeing of children and young people. AFA Scotland is working hard to ensure that the voice of our members is clearly heard in this process so that the review benefits from and reflects the experience and knowledge of practitioners working directly with children. Members of the review team have arranged to attend the various AFA Scotland forums to share information and hear members’ views.
Margaret Grant, Research
Margaret’s period of secondment from AFA Scotland to Stirling University to work on the exciting longitudinal research study, ‘Permanently Progressing’, has just concluded and she is now back with AFA two days per week. The secondment has proved an excellent opportunity for Margaret to develop strong links with the range of research work at Stirling University - she will continue to work with the Permanently Progressing team alongside her AFA work.
Newly Developed Courses
AFA Scotland has developed new training courses and workshops which were delivered during the second quarter of the year. These included:
• The Child Adoption and Permanence Report (CAPR) - when children cannot go home
• Making a Difference at Children’s Hearings – all you need to know to be confident, effective and informed
We have recently been asked for clarification regarding charges made by AFA Scotland for providing an
independent chair and / or panel member for adoption and fostering panels. The charge was revised last year and is now £500.00 per panel.
PO and POA petitions refused by Outer House  CSOH 101 14 July 2017
The Court was critical of the local authority on a number
of counts. The local authority sought to rely on the affidavit of a social worker and information from a consultant paediatrician, neither of whom was present in Court. The Court placed no weight to their views because counsel for the parents were deprived of the opportunity to cross examine them as witnesses. The Court also discarded the evidence of an expert witness in its entirety after his findings on an assessment were .discredited by another witness. There was an absence of a connection between the home conditions and any actual harm experienced by the children. Similarly, the relevance of unsubstantiated accusations about the parents was not explained in terms of the likely serious detriment to any child’s welfare. Lord Brailsford stated that not much consideration was given by the local authority as to steps which might have been taken to assist the parents in addressing and solving their difficulties and that the decision appears to have been made simply to move towards permanence which was precipitate and unjustified. The parenting of the eldest child would have been challenging due to a previously undetected chromosomal disorder. The Court took the view that local authority had failed to surmount the statutory tests in the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 for Permanence Orders to be granted.
Adoption granted for English kinship carers to adopt Scottish children
 CSOH 103 19 July 2017
The parents opposed the adoption petition on the basis
that the circumstances of this case did not disclose that adoption, as an order of last resort, was necessary in order to meet the needs of the children where a kinship care order may have been appropriate. Lady Wise, however, reached the decision that adoption was “necessary and proportionate” in the circumstances of the case. She found that the parents had not satisfactorily parented the children and were unlikely to do so in the future. They had demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to put first the needs of the children even after they were placed with the petitioners, the strongly expressed desire of one child to be claimed properly and legally forever as part of the aunt’s’ family and the risk of future challenge to any order short of adoption, taken together make adoption an imperative outcome in this case.
Securing Children’s Futures
A comprehensive evaluation report on the above postgraduate course will be published next month. The original course was started 10 years ago by BAAF and its successor course is run by AFA Scotland and accredited by the University of Strathclyde. The evaluation is based on pre and post course interviews with a cohort of students and some managers about their expectations and preparation on the course, the development of skills and knowledge in relation to 4 key areas of learning, and how learning is put into practice. Hard copies of the report will be sent to agencies.
Dates for your diary
MEMBER ONLY FORUMS • Pan Scotland Meeting
25 October 2017: Stirling
• Family Placement Forum
13 November 2017: Edinburgh
• North East of Scotland Consortia Meeting 21 November 2017: Perth
• Chairs Development Forum
1 December 2017: Edinburgh
• West of Scotland Consortia Meeting 6 December 2017: Glasgow
• Legal Adoption & Fostering Forum 11 December 2017: Stirling
WORKSHOPS - £110.00 + VAT
• Presenting at Adoption and Permanence Panels 20 November 2017: Glasgow
Facilitator: Ravinder Kaur
• Permanence Matters for Solicitors - getting to grips with legislation, case law and good practice in adoption and fostering
7 December 2017: Edinburgh
Facilitator: Rhona Pollock
• Whose Minute is it Anyway? 2 March 2018: Edinburgh Facilitator: Ravinder Kaur
• An Introduction to the Law for Children and Family Workers
14 March 2018: Edinburgh Facilitator: Rhona Pollock
AFA Scotland is introducing a new form of support and training for its members. Our new “Spotlight Sessions” are an exciting way to meet changes and challenges as they arise. We will identify an area of change or concern and move quickly to provide information and training so that members are equipped to deal with the new demands and hit the ground running.
Our first bespoke session will look at how local authorities can move forward in adapting practice and policy to make it fit for court in adoption and permanence cases. This is an area where courts are demanding much more from local authorities and the landscape for those undertaking permanence and adoption work has become increasingly unfamiliar.
• Making Sense of Recent Court Judgements
8 December, 2017: Glasgow 1.00pm—5.00pm
£50.00 + VAT
Rhona Pollock, Legal Consultant, AFA Scotland
Claire Anne McFadden, Partner, JK Cameron Solicitors
Advice and Support
To see our full list of forthcoming training and events please visit our website www.afascotland.com