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STANDARD 21 - Suitability to work with children and service users

(Adoption Agencies, Adoption Support Agencies)

Underpinning Legislation

The Local Authority Adoption Service (England) Regulations 2003:

The Voluntary Adoption Agencies and the Adoption Agencies (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2003:

The Adoption Support Agencies (England) and Adoption Agencies (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2005:


  • There is careful selection of all staff, volunteers and persons on the central list and there is monitoring of such people to help prevent unsuitable people from having the opportunity to harm children and service users.

NOTE: This standard is not relevant in respect of Adoption Support Agencies where the registered provider is an individual and does not have staff or volunteers.


All people working in or for the purposes of the agency, and persons applying to be included on the central list, are interviewed as part of the selection process and have references checked to assess suitability before taking up their duties. Telephone enquiries are made to each referee to verify the written references.


The agency can demonstrate, including from written records, that it consistently follows good recruitment practice, and all applicable current statutory requirements and guidance in the recruitment of staff, volunteers and persons on the central list. This includes Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks. All personnel responsible for recruitment and selection of staff are trained in, understand and operate these good practices.


The agency has a record of the recruitment and suitability checks which have been carried out for staff, volunteers and persons on the central list which includes:

  1. identity checks;
  2. DBS Disclosures, including the level of the Disclosure and the unique reference number (in line with eligibility to obtain such checks);
  3. checks to confirm qualifications which are a requirement and others which are considered by the agency to be relevant;
  4. at least two references, preferably one from a current employer, and where possible a statement from each referee as to their opinion of the person’s suitability to work with children;
  5. checks to confirm the right to work in the UK;
  6. where the person has lived outside of the UK, further checks as are considered appropriate where obtaining a DBS Disclosure is not sufficient to establish suitability to work with children.


The record must show the date on which each check was completed and should show who carried out the check. The DBS Disclosure information must be kept in secure conditions and must be destroyed by secure means as soon as it is no longer needed in line with the DBS Code of Practice. Before the Disclosure is destroyed, records need to be kept as described above.


The agency’s system for recruiting staff and others includes an effective system for reaching decisions as to who is to be appointed and the circumstances in which an application should be refused in relation to staff or others, in the light of any criminal convictions or other concerns about suitability that are declared or discovered through the recruitment process.


There is a whistle-blowing policy which is made known to all staff, volunteers and persons on the central list. This makes it a clear duty for such people to report to an appropriate authority any circumstances within the agency which they consider likely to significantly harm the safety, rights or welfare of any child placed by the service.