To the Editor
I am a semi retired Family and Systemic Therapist working mainly for a Local Authority. I offer consultation and training to foster and adoptive parents and to staff on Adoption and Attachment issues, and I do a limited amount of direct work with some of their most difficult cases. However, I am technically self-employed sending invoices to the Authority for my time.
Until a few days ago (in October 2005) the Local Authority believed that the new Adoption Support Agencies legislation would not affect my contract with them, and that individual therapists could not be “agencies”
Not so. If you are self-employed or freelance, then from 1 January 2006 it will be a criminal offence to continue to offer counselling, advice or therapy to adopted children and/or their parents unless you are registered to do so under the Adoption Support Agencies (England) and Adoption Agencies (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2005 and the National Minimum Standards Support Agencies (England) Adoption Act 2002 (now coming into force under section 8 of that Act)
The provisions of the Act apply to all Agencies providing Support (including advice and/or therapy like Art- or Play-Therapy) to Adoptive families, and for the purposes of the Act, all individuals not employed by a larger Adoption Support Agency will be regarded as Agencies, and will be bound by all the legislation covering staffed Agencies except for provisions regarding the management and supervision of staff etc. The DfES Guidelines clearly state that if (as an individual or otherwise) you offer services in relation to the therapeutic needs of an adoptive child, or if you offer assistance to an Adoption Agency in preparing and training adoptive parents you must register as an Adoptive Support Agency unless you are an employee of one. To continue working and not to do so will become a criminal offence after 31 Dec 2005
What will Registration involve? (the numbers in the margin refer to the 2005 National Minimum Standards Document)
2.1 Policy Documents Required:
2.2 1. Written detailed Child Protection policy, including a management and reporting plan for child protection issues. Procedures must also be in place and all service users must have access to the [written] policy
2.4 2. Written procedures for dealing with historical abuse [i.e. abuse in the past reported by a child or adult]
3.2 3. Written policies and procedures must be in place including the mechanism for referring on if the Agency cannot meet the client’s needs [etc]
3.4 4. Written policies and procedures must be in place for working with service users with physical, sensory and learning impairments, communication difficulties and for when English is not the first language
4.1 5. Written policies and procedures covering the specific service(s) you offer
4.3 6. Written policies and procedures on how you decide whether or not to provide a service for a particular service user.
15.9 7. A comprehensive written health and safety policy, which covers all legal requirements
15.9 8. A written equal opportunities policy
16.3 9 A written complaints policy which must be given to all service users
16.4 -details to be included in above outlined
20.1 10 A written policy on case recording, which establishes the purpose, format, confidentiality and content of all records, including arrangements for secure storage and reasonable protection from fire and water.
20.1 11 A written statement on Access Policy in accordance with regulations
22.4 12 A [written?] Disaster Recovery Plan - including the provision for safeguarding and the back-up of all records
24.3 13 A written set of principles and standards regarding Financial Arrangements
[Yes all this does apply to the individual service provider all these documents must be available for inspection after registration. And there is more:]
Documents which must Accompany a Registration Application
• A new enhanced CRB check, obtained via the CSCI (Commission for Social Care Inspection)
• Four references one medical, one financial, and two regarding professional competence (from a previous employer etc.)
• Documented Qualifications and Employment History explaining any gaps
(If you have moved from an agency where you worked with children the employer might be asked why you moved on)
1.1 A Statement of Purpose (as outlined in Schedule 1 of the above Regulations)
1.4 A Children’s Guide written in a format that children of all ages can understand, outlining the purposes of the Agency and giving specific guidance on how to complain and how to gain access to an independent advocate and the Children’s Rights Director as appropriate
15.10 Evidence of insurance indemnifying against costs arising from allegations of child abuse [At the time of writing I am finding this difficult to obtain. Devitt one of the foremost therapists’ insurers, specifically exclude costs arising from Abuse allegations. ]
• The fee (£360 for individuals and small ASAs - £1320 for larger Agencies)
[Applications will take about 4 months to process. If applications are not received before 30 Dec 2005 no current service to adoptive families may continue after that date in anticipation of a successful application]
Other Documents and Requirements (subject to Inspection after registration)
5.3 (An original requirement that the Individual Service Provider should have or seek an NVQ4 In management has now been dropped)
Reg 25 Audited business Accounts
Reg 25 Public liability Insurance (in addition to 15.10 above)
8.5 An individual provider must produce a written report on outcomes of the service every six months in order to monitor progress. [It is not clear who these reports should be sent to, but I presume they will need to be available to Inspectors]
• An Annual Self Assessment supported by feed-back and evaluation forms which clients must be invited to complete periodically or at the end of therapy.
[“Self Assessment is only as good as the evidence which supports it”]
• A list of all service users. The CSCI has the right to contact a random selection of service users, provided they give prior permission.
• A selected case will be “Case tracked” records and interventions monitored from beginning to end of therapy.
All the above information is based on documentation obtainable at the DfES website: www.dfes.gov.uk/adoption, In addition to the ASA Regulations, there is a link to the NMS document in the blue 'Stop Press' box on the home page of the website. Hard copies will be available shortly. Application forms are now available on the CSCI website: www.csci.gov.uk These forms must be submitted to CSCI by 29 December 2005.
UKCP registered Family and Systemic Therapist