Local Authority Solicitor:
This article considers the changes that have been made to the way in which adoption panels operate in England and Wales.
The article considers the changes brought about in England by The Adoption Agencies (Panel and Consequential Amendments) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/1410), and the corresponding regulations in Wales, namely the Adoption Agencies (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/1905 (W.232)). Both sets of regulations bring about changes to the Principal regulations, namely to the Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005 (SI 2005/389), and the Adoption Agencies (Wales) Regulations 2005 (SI 2005/1313 (W.95)) respectively.
There is a particular discussion of the role of the Agency Decision Maker, and in particular, the situations in which adoption panels still fulfil a significant role in the care planning for children. The article also considers the salient points of the Statutory Adoption Guidance in England, of February 2011, which was updated in April 2011, and subsequently in June 2012, so as to take into account the changes to be brought about from 1 September 2012. The transitional arrangements are specifically, so as to be clear as to which matters are still required to go to adoption panels, and which will be expected to go directly to the Agency Decision Maker. These changes are important for all practitioners working in child protection to be aware of.