West Sussex has joined an exciting new partnership of local authority adoption agencies called Adoption South East.
It brings together the adoption services of West Sussex County Council, East Sussex County Council, Brighton and Hove Council and Surrey County Council. By combining our adoption services in this way, Adoption South East will draw on the best practice and experience from each of the four local authorities. It will make it easier to find a child a permanent loving home with a family living anywhere in the region and mean adopters, adoptive children and their birth families can use the combined services of the four authorities.
At any one time there are around 4,000 children across the UK waiting to be adopted and within the South East there are around 120 children needing adoptive families every year.
Adoption South East is looking for people of different ages and backgrounds to get in touch if they could consider giving a child a permanent loving family.
Michael Wilson, Head of Service for Adoption South East, explains why it was important to launch the new service even during this time of Covid-19.
He said: “Whilst it has certainly been an additional challenge to launch Adoption South East in the early days of social distancing and then lockdown because of the additional restrictions we all now live with and manage, we were committed to the principles of Regionalisation; to widen the range of families available to the children who need adoption, to speed up the placement of children through close partnership working, and to share resources and good practice across the region.
“We recognised that the benefits of regionalisation would support us during these times as we came up with shared solutions to our challenges, all of us working together to keep our services running in unprecedented times.”
Since forming the partnership during lockdown Adoption South East has enjoyed a highly successful start, taking nearly 300 new enquiries from across the region in its first three months.
Couples and single people of any gender can adopt if they are over the age of 21. Full training and support is offered and the process prepares people to become adopters within as little as six months.
Jacquie Russell, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at West Sussex County Council, said: “We are proud to be working with our colleagues across Sussex and Surrey as part of Adoption South East, which will help us reach more families who can offer fantastic homes to vulnerable children.
“Right now there are children across the South East who need a new permanent family. These include single children, babies and toddlers, older children, brothers and sisters and children with disabilities.
“We are dedicated to giving these children the opportunity to enjoy happy, healthy, fulfilling lives as part of a loving family.”
A 15-year-old who was adopted with her siblings in West Sussex said: “I’m still with my siblings and I now have a little adopted sister as well. Our family foster children of all ages too and I love it, it means a bigger family. I’m never bored and I like helping children that have gone through similar experiences as me.
“I’m living my best life with my forever family and I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Adoption South East is running virtual information events and is ready to support people to start their adoption journey. Visit the Adoption South East website to find out more.