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UNISON Scotland's response to Scottish Executive Consultation on the Adoption Policy Review Group: Report of Phase two - Secure and Safe Homes for our Most Vulnerable Children

Adoption and Children (Scotland) Bill - Response to the Call for Written Evidence

The UNISON Scotland Submission to the Scottish Parliament's Education Committee on their call for Written Evidence on the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Bill

May 2006


UNISON is Scotland's largest trade union representing over 150,000 members working in the public sector. UNISON Scotland represents over 25,000 workers from social services throughout Scotland, with members employed as social workers, home care workers, residential care workers, welfare rights workers, early years staff and others administrating and supporting the social work team. Whilst most of our social services workers are employed by Local Authorities, we also represent a substantial number who work in the private and voluntary sector.

UNISON Scotland welcomes this Bill and in general, supports the recommendations. Any apparent criticism is more about emphasis and a need to ensure sufficient resources.


UNISON Scotland responded to the Adoption Policy Review Group Phase II report "Adoption - Better Choices for our Children" and is pleased to note that many of its comments have been adopted in the Bill.

We are particularly pleased at the extension of those eligible to adopt children, including same-sex couples and unmarried couples and also the ability for step-parents to adopt the child of their partner. Our members, who work in the adoption services, are all too acutely aware of the difficulties of finding sufficient, eligible people to apply to adopt children to cope with the current demand for placements and this is liable to increase with legislation that is currently being planned in connection with the situation of children of drug-addicted parents. Therefore, the proposed measures to increase the range of eligible people, is very much to be welcomed and supported.

As stated in our response to the Consultation paper, UNISON Scotland strongly supports the provision of statutory support services to all those involved in the adoption process.

Up to now there has been no protocol in Scotland for adoption support services. There have been cases where local authorities have abandoned children they have placed in other local authorities, leaving the receiving authority to resource the resultant disruption, which is unacceptable. We are pleased this has been addressed in the Bill.

Whilst we are pleased at the proposals contained in the Bill for provisions to introduce a national system of allowances for fostering and adoptions, we are concerned that this has not been extended to a national system of the training. We hope this will be considered further during the passage of the Bill.

One of the issues with which our members are particularly concerned, is the issue of the courts, where the processes are currently subject to considerable delays. This problem was recognised by the Adoption Policy Review Group. It is proposed that the Court will have a significant role in processing "permanence orders" as outlined in the Bill, but no timescales have been built in for dealing with these. We anticipate this could cause difficulties as currently, attitudes, culture and power all contribute to making the current Court process less than satisfactory for Scotland's most vulnerable young people. We are concerned that the Bill does not appear to have taken this issue into account and would welcome the Education Committee's consideration during the Stage I process


UNISON Scotland welcomes the publication of the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Bill but would wish further consideration of the issues raised above, during the Committee stages.


The P&I Team
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