Support from health, education and housing services

Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 20 November 2001.

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Clause 4(9) provides that a local authority which carries out an assessment and finds that there may be a need for provision of services by a health authority or local education authority, is required to notify the relevant authority. It is important that there be a duty on health and education authorities to comply with the request for services, perhaps in the context of the new National Service Framework for children. There should be specific reference to child and adolescent mental health services. Issues where adopted children are placed in different health and education authority areas from the originating and responsible social services authority need to be addressed. Children should not go to the bottom of a waiting list for health support and medical treatment as a result of moving from one health area to another. There will also be needs for assistance with housing and accommodation. It is essential that responsibilities and funding for supporting education and meeting special educational needs at all stages are clarified, especially post 16 and the role of Learning and Skills Councils.

We welcome the clarification of the duty of local authorities to provide services to birth parents, and their power to give support also to other birth family members, although there needs to be new funding for these services. Should this service extend to the provision of intermediary services to birth family members who are hoping to establish some contact with the adopted (adult) person? The Department of Health recently issued guidance to adoption agencies on the provision of such services, and we would welcome a commitment to put such guidance on a statutory footing.