Why is this needed?

When there are safeguarding and ‘edge of care issues’ in adoptive families:

  • a co-ordinated response, sensitive to the wider needs of the family, is required
  • ‘risk-based’ services should work closely with adoption services when working with adoptive families
  • clear protocols are particularly required for RAAs when adoption support services are operating across multiple LAs. 
  • it is also important to avoid the assumption that because children are adopted, they are therefore safe.

Government Perspective

NMS 4.3 Adoption agencies and adoption support agencies work effectively with agencies concerned with child protection e.g. the responsible authority, schools, hospitals, general practitioners, etc. and does not work in isolation from them.
22.9 Investigations into allegations or suspicions of harm are handled fairly, quickly, and consistently in a way that provides effective protection for the child and at the same time supports the person who is the subject of the allegation.

Adopter Perspective

Adoptive parents often complain that the ‘child protection culture’ that social workers come from means that they feel they are suspicious when there are problems in the family. This makes adopters reluctant to seek help. What they want are social workers who are trained and knowledgeable in the area of trauma & attachment so are more likely to understand the needs/challenges of these families. (AdoptionUK)

Exemplar Approaches

In order to deal with the day to day detail of these issues, Adoption Counts and OAWY and most RAAs have ‘Operational Groups’ with representatives at Service Manager level from each LA and the RAA.  This provides a strong line of communication to looked after, fostering, ‘edge of care’ and safeguarding services.

As multi-agency/multi-professional services are being developed, particularly as professionals from one agency offer consultation to staff employed by another agency, agreements have been  developed in line with local safeguarding procedures to ensure clear divisions of accountability and responsibility.

Possible future developments

Adoption Counts and OAWY are undertaking work to agree a safeguarding protocol between the RAA and each LA. This is to:

  • Understand the different referral systems and thresholds operating within each LA
  • Agree how constructive communication can take place between safeguarding services and adoption support services when a safeguarding issue arises.

Adoption Support Social Workers may need support to work collaboratively with safeguarding services in a confident manner whilst keeping the welfare of the child to the fore, particularly if they are working across different local authority areas.


The development of safeguarding protocols between LAs and RAAs seem to have taken a considerable time and no agency was able to produce a final version of these protocols ready for circulation.


Next: Commissioning and procurement activity