Adoption UK welcomes a Care Inspectorate report which shows 92% of adoption services in Scotland, relating to Care and Support, were evaluated as ‘good’ or better by inspectors, but the charity calls for more consistency across the nation.

The report shows that 13% of the Care and Support category were evaluated to be ‘excellent’; 50% were very good; 29% good; and 8% adequate – while none was deemed to be weak or unsatisfactory.

But this directly contradicts the testimony of a significant number of the 330 respondents from Scotland to Adoption UK’s Adoption Barometer report, which revealed 62% of families in Scotland face a struggle for support.

Some of the respondents from Scotland to the barometer described asking repeatedly for support but receiving little help, while others felt the support that they received was not helpful or not acceptable, including one who was offered a support group 38 miles away from home. Another respondent described the support simply as “disastrous”.

This is a view supported by research carried out by Adoption UK Scotland and Adoption & Fostering Alliance Scotland (Grant and Critchley, 2018), which found that support provision across the nation was variable and, in some cases, the type of support that adoptive parents felt that they needed was not on offer.

However, there were also positive experiences reported in the barometer survey. Respondents reported a range of different services offered by their local authority teams, from signposting to weekly sessions with children and, where local authorities were able to refer to other specialist adoption support agencies, adopters were generally positive about the support they had received from those agencies.

The barometer also found that the proportion of Scottish adopters who approached their local authority for an assessment of needs review in 2018 was considerably lower than UK averages, at just 6%. It is cause for concern that well over half of those who did not seek a review were not aware that they could ask for it. Only 28% did not seek a review because they did not need support at the time. This suggests that there are large numbers of adoptive families in Scotland who perhaps need support but do not know whether it is available.

Fiona Aitken, Director of Adoption UK in Scotland, said: “It is great to see that service provision in areas in Scotland is being so highly evaluated by the Care Inspectorate.  It reinforces what we know about there being excellent support services available for some adoptive families.  However, we also know that many families don’t know what help is available for their family, or struggle to access it.  We would like to see adoption support become more accessible and consistent across Scotland, and available to all those who require it.”

The barometer assessed national policy relating to adoptive families at various stages of their adoption journey.  Scotland scored poorly across the board due to lack of national consistency, particularly in relation to adoption support. 

The Care Inspectorate report shows that local authority adoption services in Scotland provided post-adoption support to 1,824 households in 2018, down 12% from 2,069 in 2017. Independent services provided post-adoption support to more households in 2018 (766) than in 2017 (648).

At 31 December 2018, 194 children and young people were approved for adoption and waiting to be matched to an adoptive household - 35% were part of a sibling group and 22% had been waiting for over one year.

In 2018, 286 children and young people were legally adopted, down from 328 in 2017.

And the number of children and young people approved for adoption continues to decrease year-on-year, from 510 in 2015 to 323 in 2018.

The total number of disruptions has halved in two years – from 24 in 2016 to 12 in 2018. There were 16 disruptions in 2017.