Hello, no you don't have to use the one you live in, they will assess people at a set distance or driving time from their offices (some say 50 miles, others say an hour's drive). We were recommended by a colleague to look at a neighbouring LA; they are a small place with a lot of children in care, so need to find adopters from outside their border. When we started doing this a few weeks ago (have just had initial interviews with three agencies) we were advised by adopters to check out a few agencies and find one we felt happiest with. We're now at the stage where we have to make a decision who to apply to.
In terms of how they are different, I think with the new 6 month assessment structure they will become more similar; up to now it seems each LA has taken whatever time they need to do the assessment, keeping prospective adopters waiting for all kinds of reasons (eg lack of staff, lack of organisation etc). However each area has different numbers of children, who are in care for a variety of reasons, there does seem to be a different 'feel' to each agency, they all have Ofsted reports which are handy to read. Then there are VAs who are different again as they don't have any Looked After Children of their own. As I am also new to this you may get someone with more experience coming to help out with the answer too, I only know what I have read and discussed with others so far!
So, update from us, we plato send our application form to the chosen LA tomorrow!
We are just hanging on to read an initial report about us which they are sending tomorrow - neither of the other two agencies offered to share theirs with us so more brownie points for this lot - just in case it stops us in our tracks.
So exciting choccy !! I didn't even think about an initial report!! That's got me thinking now! We sent our application off last week and have been accepted onto a "preparing for adoption" course in October so are very excited too!
The process for us has been much quicker than than originally expected.
Our initial meeting was in May, followed a week later by a meeting where a particular child was discussed in very broad terms (I started a thread on this a while ago, so wont go into more detail here). We began training in July and submitted our formal application at that point.
The aim is that we will attend panel next month and, if that goes well, matching panel in November. So potentially it will be initial inquiry to matching panel in 6 months.
Should see a draft of our PAR in the next week, which will be very interesting. The process so far has been exciting and daunting in equal measure.
Had our first meeting with social worker today and it went well. We were very honest about things (my anxiety, dh and his dad not speaking) and she said not a problem to all (although I do think she will dig lots about dh and his dad) she said that we need to put up a bannister on our stairs and check our front door isn't easy to unlock....and sort the pulls out on our blinds. But she was very positive and our family support worker will be coming in the next couple of weeks.
Hey Italian brilliant news for you. Anything said about matching yet? We've just had our visit from family support worker and she's done our finance check, health and safety check etc and she's happy. Only a couple of little things to change too. She's got 3 of our references back and has got to visit them and us have our medicals and then we will be on to stage two! It's very quiet on here isn't it?
We go to a prep day in about 10 days time and at that point the LA will accept our form and sign us up for stage one (this has set us back a few weeks as they didn't let on they wouldn't take us in August. The new timescale has clearly thrown them a bit). So our estimated panel date of late Feb is now late March.
Well am afraid I think it's par for the course if you go with an LA, given the budget and manpower strains they're under. DH was adamant that they were a better option than Coram (less bothered aout my medical history, babies waiting) but I was undecided. Will report back after we've been!
Choccyjules I don't know about the new time frames, we were in the old one so the process from initial request to be accessed to acceptance panel (not matching) was a year. It could have been about 9 months but we slowed it down ourselves at the start due to having a birth child and not wanting it to go to fast. So for us prep group to panel was actually 7 months.
Our s.worker was chuntering about the new time limits to work too, but our family support worker seems really on top of things so I'm hoping she will keep tabs on things. Bound to be teething problems with such a big change though.
Will wait to see who our SW is and how they're dealing with it. No real rush on our side really, I think I tend to get annoyed when people change the rules on me and claim they told me (hoho). Probably shouldn't be going anywhere near social services eh?!
Had a couple of shocks this past week. Firstly our panel has been moved forward and is now in just over two weeks time. Secondly we have been sent the basic information on a sibling group we may be interested in. The basic info has thrown up a lot of questions which we cannot get the answers to until after we are approved but it's all very exciting.
Have just been told that our chosen LA will assess us - yay! Am filling in the form at the moment and thinking of enough people to act as references is proving really hard. Not sure how many people we want to share this with tbh...
Anyway just very pleased to be finally moving forward with this. Have lurked and asked questions here for a good few months - thanks to everyone who's shared.