Adoption charity BAAF suddenly collapses due to financial difficulties

The British Association for Adoption and Fostering closed last week

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The Independent Online

A leading adoption charity has closed suddenly after running into financial difficulties – despite “extra resources being pumped” into adoption by the Government.

The British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) closed last Friday and is now being run by administrators.  

In a statement, the charity said it had made the decision “in the face of significant changes and prevailing economic conditions”.

BAAF helped find adoptive families for children, provided training and advice, ran therapeutic services for young people, and campaigned to improve the lives of children separated from their birth families.

According to its annual report, in the last financial year, 2013-2014, the charity received £8.7 million to carry out its work, including a £1million grant from the Government.  But it ended up spending £8.9million.

In a statement, Caroline Selkirk, BAAF chief executive, said: “The Chair and Trustees of BAAF have had to take immediate action to ensure that some of BAAF’s services helping vulnerable children, their families and those supporting them can continue.

“In the face of significant changes and prevailing economic conditions, it has sadly not been possible to sustain the organisation.”

It has been reported that it would not have been possible for the charity to become financially viable within a realistic time frame.

Some of BAAF’s work in England will be transferred to children’s charity the Coram Group, which will form a new, independent organisation - CoramBAAF Adoption and Fostering Academy.

The charity’s Scottish work has been transferred to St Andrew’s Children’s Society, while BAAF in Northern Ireland and Wales will continue to operate on a limited basis for a brief period to allow services and staff to be transferred to another provider.

The Government has said adoptions across the country must be sped up as children are spending months waiting in care for adoptive families.

Ministers believe different councils need to work together as the adoption process is being approached at too localised a level, limiting the number of families available to adopt and causing delays. 

Maggie Mellon, vice chairman of the British Association of Social Workers, questioned why BAAF had become financially unviable considering the increasing amount of government funding being provided to boost the number of children being adopted.

“Why was BAAF’s continued independent existence not possible given the extra resources being pumped by government into adoption?” she said.

“Are government and local authorities skimping on quality of training and consultancy in favour of quantity of adoptions?”

She said the announcement “led to questions about the ethical and training priorities for local authorities and other adoption agencies”.

“BAAF also did not forget that birth parents’ and families’ needs have to be recognised and met,” she added.

“We hope this integrity will not be lost in the formation of the new organisation.”

Ms Mellon said BAAF had been “very necessary” as an independent organisation in the face of government policy aiming to promote adoption over preventing family breakdown in the first place, or the placing of children with other birth relatives.

In a statement, Dr Carol Homden, Coram’s CEO, said: “Coram is the oldest children’s charity and has been delivering fostering and adoption services for 275 years. 

“The CoramBAAF Adoption and Fostering Academy is a sustainable way forward which enables the expertise of two organisations renowned for their work with looked after children to be shared to create better chances for children."

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