The Voluntary Adoption Sector

Voluntary adoption agencies (VAAs) recruit, assess and approve families for children for whom adoption is the plan. They also work with local authorities to match, place and support children with prospective adopters. Additionally, VAAs provide support to all parties to adoption, including birth parents, on a life-long basis.

VAAs in the UK provide families for around 1,000 children every year:

  • A significant portion of children placed for adoption in the UK are placed with adopters approved by VAAs.
  • The sector has placed an average of 960 children each year over the last 5 years – and over 1,000 in the last 2 years.
  • VAAs currently provide families for approximately 20% of all children placed for adoption in England.

VAAs recruit adopters for priority children:

  • Children placed by VAAs are significantly more likely to be categorised as priority children (children in this category may be part of a sibling group, aged 5 or older, BME, or disabled) than the average adopted child.
  • 61% of children placed by VAAs in 2015-16 were placed with siblings; compared to 39% of children adopted in England that year.
  • Around a quarter of children placed by VAAs have parents who abused alcohol and/or drugs during pregnancy or have some form of developmental delay. Around 10% are known to carry genetic risks (such as schizophrenia) or have specific health care needs.

VAAs operate across regional and national boundaries:

  • VAAs operate across the UK to match children with adopters, wherever they are needed.
  • 5% of all children placed by VAAs in 2015-16 came from elsewhere in the UK.
  • The VAA sector is UK-wide with a total of 34 agencies covering every region of England plus Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.

VAAs deliver high quality services:

  • As of April 2017, 37 of 39 agencies/branches of agencies in England were rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted in their most recent inspection.
  • An estimate 63% of all ‘Outstanding’ adoption agencies in England – local authorities included – are in the voluntary sector.
  • 100% of CVAA member VAAs in Scotland are rated as ‘Excellent’ or ‘Very Good’ by the Care Inspectorate.

VAAs provide life-long support to all parties to adoption:

  • In addition to providing placement services, VAAs provide high-quality adoption support across the country.
  • VAAs provide vital services to adopted adults and birth families, including information, counselling and intermediary services.
  • VAAs have also led the way in the development of child-focused recruitment techniques and concurrent planning services.