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A “golden” first year for WWiSH adoption service
Wednesday 13th March, 2013

A pioneering adoption service is celebrating its first anniversary in style after scooping two prestigious awards and being praised in a government report.

WWiSH adoption service – run by Warrington, Wigan and St. Helens councils – won two prizes at the Improvement and Efficiency Awards 2013, a national competition honouring excellence in the public sector. At a ceremony in London, staff from WWiSH were handed gold in the “working together” category and bronze in the “innovation in social care” category. WWiSH was one of only two council services to win two prizes.

The award success came only a few weeks after the service was highlighted in a government report. The Department for Education cited WWiSH as a good example of local authorities working together in a report called Further Action on Adoption: Finding More Loving Homes. WWiSH is the only combined service of its kind in the North West and one of only two in the country. The government has made speeding up the adoption process one of its top priorities. It also wants to tackle the shortfall in prospective adopters compared to the number of children waiting to be adopted.

WWiSH was set up in March 2012 by the three councils who agreed to merge their adoption services to save money and improve quality. Since then, 55 children have been adopted. The shared service has been able to cut the length of time children must wait before being placed with an adoptive family.

A successful marketing and publicity campaign to recruit potential adopters saw a surge in those coming forward seeking to adopt. WWiSH had 34 prospective adopters approved and currently has another 42 adopters being assessed.

Ruth Fitzgerald, WWiSH adoption manager, says: “It’s been a great first year for the service and I’m delighted all our hard work has been recognised. Getting two Improvement and Efficiency awards is a great achievement and testament to the efforts of our staff. And I’m pleased the government, who have placed such importance on improving the adoption process, have also recognised our pioneering approach.

“It’s a real achievement to get 55 children adopted into loving, permanent homes in the space of 12 months. The adoption process is complex and time-consuming. We merged our services to try and speed up that process and give children needing to be adopted more opportunities. So far, it seems to be working.

“We’ve been able to attract a significant number of new adopters in our first year. But there is still a shortfall in the amount of people coming forward offering to give a child a home and the number of children waiting to be adopted. This is a national problem. We currently have 85 children across the three councils in need of a new home. I’d urge anyone who thinks they can offer a new home to a child to come forward and talk to us.”

Could you provide a forever family for a child awaiting adoption? If so, please contact WWiSH - call 01942 487272, email wwish@wigan.gov.uk or go online at www.wwish.org.uk

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