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La vs va

(17 Posts)
Whatslovegottodo Wed 17-Aug-16 15:02:20

Hi, newbie to this board.
We are new to the adoption process also and are already stuck in whether to go with our local authority or our local voluntary agency. Both have been very welcoming, both realistic and helpful on initial contact. Neither have any young children so we know it would be concurrent planning, an older child or siblings, which we are thinking on all the options.
Advice and experiences very appreciated.

RosieandJim89 Wed 17-Aug-16 15:18:35

For us the deciding factor was that for every couple matched by a VA, the LA had to pay them 27k for their "assistance" in placing a child from their authority. It felt like a waste of money for the council to be paying so much so we went LA but not our closest.

Whatslovegottodo Wed 17-Aug-16 15:30:00

That's interesting rosie and I hadn't even thought of that so yes I agree with that side of things, may be a swinging factor.
Because we live quite rurally and 20 miles from the big city of our LA we were advised that we were in a better position to go with our own LA, as they won't place the children near the birth family, obviously. Can I ask what your reasons were for not choosing your LA? Thanks

tldr Wed 17-Aug-16 18:00:37

Our reasoning was that if the LA can't place child themselves they ask VA to do it, therefore VA children are harder to place than LA children.

No idea if that's true.

matimeo Wed 17-Aug-16 18:55:36

Ultimately you should ask lots of questions, then go with your gut, however some factors you might consider:

1. Ofsted have said that on average LA's perform worse than VAs. All the adopters I know who used LAs would tend to support that, but that is anecdotal to my area and the situation varies across the country. You should have a look at the ofsted reports for the LA/VAs you are considering.

2. VAs can potentially look at a much larger pool of children. They don't necessarily get harder to place children (some do), and are often more flexible and supportive in stage 1 and 2. On the other hand the LA may give you a better chance at a concurrent type placement. So it will be important to ask VAs what types of children they usually place and if you want a baby a LA might be a better bet.

3. If at all possible try to speak to people who have already adopted through the LA/VA. Many run 'meet the adopters' type events.

4. Ask about the post adoption support available. Some VAs provide much more than the LA minimum.

On a personal note- my VA earned every penny of the (much less than £27,000) they made from my last adoption. We would have been reluctant to adopt again if we'd had to endure the incompetence of the LA without support, I wouldn't worry about the funding arrangements.

Ultimately the process is the same and you will be fine no matter who you choose. Best of luck.

RosieandJim89 Wed 17-Aug-16 19:40:06

Our closest LA said no to us because we have a birth child which restricted the age of a child we could adopt. They didn't have babies.

Mrscollydog Wed 17-Aug-16 20:11:38

We did the VA route, mainly as due to my job we needed an out of area placement. We have been so happy with the process with them and the ongoing support. We were matched very quickly and our LO was home within 3 months of approval panel. We were kept well informed all along the way, when the SW who was assessing us in stage 2 left abruptly due to health reasons they stepped up ensuring it was completed in time for panel
Having dealt with the LA responsible for our LO, I couldn't be happier with our decision. In comparison they couldn't sort out a bun fight in a bakery, the turn over of SW is ridiculous and they are impossible to get hold of. Our VA provide lifelong post adoption support and gave been great post placement.
My friend however was with a different VA and it was over 2 years from approval to placement.
Good luck, its an amazing if not a bit terrifying journey.

PoppyStellar Wed 17-Aug-16 20:57:35

I adopted through an LA for the same reasons as tldr, and was told by the LA that the VAs have the children the LA can't place. From my own experience therefore I would recommend LA but I am aware I was very fortunate to be allocated a very competent and experienced SW. The LA was not without problems and the high turnover of staff can be problematic (as can the ridiculous workloads the SWs have) but my personal experience was that the training and prep - particularly the two week prep course - was excellent and whilst I haven't needed specific post adoption support yet, I am kept informed as to what training and events are available fairly regularly, and when I got in touch with my SW (nearly 3 years after adoption) about a problem I was having she got back to me really quickly and was extremely helpful and supportive, making time to come and visit me and DD at home.

Chicklette Wed 17-Aug-16 21:04:34

We went with local LA for a few different reasons but the main one was that the children's SW's and the prospective adopters SW's worked in the same building, knew each other and had meetings each week and therefore we felt like the match would be more considered. Also, I did not want to have to look at lots of kids profiles and decide which were the right one for us. I was happy to let LA find the kids that they felt would be the right kids for us and they picked perfectly.

Italiangreyhound Wed 17-Aug-16 21:43:03

We went with our LA and had amazing service and have had great post adoption support.

As far as I am aware VAs have no children to place so that influenced me. I felt it was more likely they would have harder to place kids. We gave a birth daughter and felt we coukdn't cope with S harder to place child. That sounds not nice of us, but was just reality.

However our LA had few children to place! Luckily, they had the right child for us so it worked out brilliantly!

Good luck.

PoppyStellar Wed 17-Aug-16 22:09:04

chicklette and italian both sum up perfectly what I was trying to say! smile

greenandblackssurvivalkit Wed 17-Aug-16 22:12:50

Our VA are amazing. Lovely people, really supportive, and offer lifelong support. They also give any children already in the family their own worker throughout the process, and support them well.

The LA who placed LO are so astoundingly incompetent, they actually surprise me. And I work in the public sector, so am used to a lot of the inefficiencies etc. Common sense is totally lacking.

Our VA look nationwide from the word go, but also are part of a consortium, looking locally, with good connections locally. They are very pro active in finding a child/children (presumably so they get paid for all their hard work!) I honestly think that the £27k or whatever is a bargain for what the VA provide for us as a family, and in what the LA save in long term foster care, and training and assessing adopters. LAs have to pay the same fee if they use another LA's adopters. So if you go through your LA, but end up having another LA's child, that fee will still change hands. Social workers and training don't come free, I actually think 27k isn't a huge amount for this, but perhaps that's because our PAR was amazing and in depth, and the training was so good. These sort of financial transactions happen in public services all the time- say you have schizophrenia, and need a hospital bed, but the nearest is a neighbouring CCG, you own CCG will pay the trust that takes you. Money makes the world go round... This government's push to get kids adopted rather than in care is not because they love kids (if they did, they could try not cutting the very services that may have kept them with their birth families, or cutting the CAMHS services they very much need), but is all about the money. As adopters, we're a bargain to society, in financial terms. Distasteful, but true.

Not having children to place means that LAs only look to VA adopters if they can't place 'in house' for some reason. This can mean greater need, or it can mean needing a particular skill set, or being out of a particular area.

We're lucky. LO needed a particular skill we had, but is perfect for our family.

Babies do appear on Linkmaker (the online dating type site for matching), but with the caveat above. If you have a particular skill set, or are willing to tolerate some additional needs or uncertainty, a VA may be worth it.

I am glad we have the wonderful VA to fall back on. To rely on the LA is like relying on the British Summer.

greenandblackssurvivalkit Wed 17-Aug-16 22:19:55

Sorry- long post!

I just love our VA, and thank our lucky stars we went with them, to keep me sane. I just love knowing there's this wonderful bunch of people cheering our family on. They feel like an extension of our family.

matimeo Thu 18-Aug-16 12:02:51

@ greenandblackssurvivalkit: That is exactly how I feel about our VA as well. In case anyone is interested, mine was Caritas Care, what was yours?

@ OP: We adopted twice (still on with second). Both below 1 year old at placement and with no/little additional needs. In both cases we had already seen profiles before our first panel and were provisionally matched within weeks of being passed to adopt. There is no reason a VA can't match you with younger, "easier" children, for the reasons that greenandblack describes.

Italiangreyhound Thu 18-Aug-16 16:29:26

I guess one thing is that two families might have very different experiences of the same LA, and presumably the same VA. In our LA one duly I know had some issues and had a very negative view of our country council adoption services I think. So what is key is what is good in your area.

I guess also one size doesn't fit all.

So I would go with your gut instinct, having visited a few open evenings.

Good luck.

Hels20 Thu 18-Aug-16 17:31:45

I have gone through it twice - once with a LA and once with a VA.

What is said above is all true - but what I would say is that I am not sure how "independent" an LA is - at the end of the day, they have only a finite pool of children and a finite pool of adopters. I think there could be some pressure from the LA to adopt the child they present you with. How independent are they when everything is in house? With the VA - I always found everything so much more unbiased and they were really looking out for you.

I think it really depends on the LA and the VA. am sure people have good and bad experiences with both.

Whatslovegottodo Fri 19-Aug-16 08:15:40

You have all been amazingly helpful, what a brilliant resource this is, so good to hear lots of first hand stories. Going to mull it over throughout the weekend.

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