Registration of adoption support providers (clause 8)

Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at on 20 November 2001.

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7. The Bill includes new provisions to allow organisations other than adoption agencies to provide adoption support services, whilst ensuring that organisations operating in this sector are properly regulated.

8. Clause 8 amends the Care Standards Act 2000 to require adoption support agencies to register with the registration authority (the National Care Standards Commission in England and the National Assembly in Wales) under Part 2 of that Act. An adoption support agency may be voluntary or profit-making, and both organisations and sole practitioners providing adoption support services will be required to apply for registration. These provisions will affect adoption support providers which are not currently subject to any form of inspection or regulation, such as post-adoption support centres and independent counsellors providing adoption support services. Adoption support providers which are already regulated through other means, such as local authorities, approved voluntary adoption agencies, NHS providers and the Registrar General, will be exempt from the new registration scheme in order to prevent unnecessary duplication of registration.

9. Registration will ensure that adoption support services are provided to an appropriately high standard by staff with the necessary training and expertise. Registered adoption support agencies will be able to provide birth records counselling under paragraph 2(1)(b) of Schedule 2 of the Bill, in line with the White Paper commitment to enable bodies other than approved voluntary adoption agencies to provide birth records counselling for adopted people. They will also be able to provide counselling in respect of information disclosed by adoption agencies under clause 60, as part of the new scheme for access to information underpinned by the Bill.

10. Provision of adoption support services without being appropriately registered will be an offence under section 11 of the Care Standards Act 2000, punishable by a maximum penalty of a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale (£5000) and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months.

11. The Government made clear its intention to introduce provisions to this effect at the time of introduction of the previous version of the Bill in March.