MON 21/12/2009 - An independent adoption agency, the Manchester Adoption Society, is to close its doors at the end of February 2010 due to insufficient funding.
After a difficult couple of years financially, the adoption charity's trustees have decided to enter into a voluntary administration rather than risk the possibility of a disruptive bankruptcy. The agency is now working to transfer the families they are currently working with, and have previously worked with, to other organisations so that they continue to receive the support they need.
The Manchester Adoption Society has been providing an adoption service since 1965 and was the first organisation to bring Concurrent Planning to the UK. It is the only adoption agency offering a Concurrent Planning service outside of the South of England.
The major cause of the agency's financial difficulties has been the structure of the fees paid by local authorities for their services. Research commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families shows that the nationally agreed £25,000 fee that they charge to find the right family for an adoptive child falls short of the true cost of about £35,000. As a result of the shortfall, the agency has had to rely heavily on donations which have dried up during the recession.
More voluntary adoption agencies may find themselves having to close due to financial restraints, and even more of the 4000 children currently needing adoptive parents will spend much longer in the care system than necessary.
Rob Finney, chief executive of the Manchester Adoption Society, said that following the recent increase in children being taken into care, the timing of their closure is particularly unfortunate.
The finances of an agency like ours are always difficult. Even in a good year we lose money because we do not recover our full costs with fees. So it only takes one or two families to drop out at the end of the process to tip us over," Mr Finney said.
"It is particularly bad timing that we are closing because the numbers of children needing to be adopted will go up next year after the surge in children being taken into care this year. Sadly we will not survive long enough to be there."