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STANDARD 23 - Learning, development and qualifications

(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:

Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005:


  • Children and service users receive a service from staff, volunteers, panel members and decision-makers who have the competence to meet their needs.

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.


There is a good quality learning and development programme which includes induction, post-qualifying and in-service training, that staff and volunteers are supported to undertake. The programme equips them with the skills required to meet the needs of the children and service users, keeps them up-to-date with professional, legal and practice developments and reflects the policies, legal obligations and business of the agency.


The learning and development programme is evaluated for effectiveness at least annually and if necessary is updated.


All new staff* undertakes the Children’s Workforce Development Council’s induction standards, commencing within 7 working days of starting their employment and completing them within six months.

* This requirement does not apply to ASAs where the agency works only with adults.


Where the agency provides an intercountry adoption service, training is provided to staff, volunteers and persons on the central list:

  1. on intercountry legislation and practice;
  2. on the principles of the law and eligibility criteria for the overseas country;
  3. the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption;
  4. the Immigration Rules and immigration legislation that applies to the country in question;
  5. and the implications for children who are (a) adopted from outside the British Islands and (b) being taken out of the British Islands for the purposes of adoption.


Assessment and appraisal of all staff involved in adoption takes account of identified skills needed for particular roles and is used to identify individuals’ learning and development needs.



All social workers and other specialists (e.g. medical, legal, educationalists, psychologists, therapists) are professionally qualified and, where applicable, registered by the appropriate professional body. They are appropriately trained to work with children, their families and adoptive families, and have a good understanding of adoption.


All counsellors are either a Member (MBACP) or Accredited Member (MBACP Accred) of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy; or are chartered by/registered with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), or the United Kingdom Register for Counsellors and Psychotherapists (UKRCP).


All Arts, Drama and Music Therapists and Practitioner Psychologists are registered with the Health Professions Council for England and Wales. Other staff who are involved in the provision of therapeutic services have appropriate professional qualifications.

Birth records counselling and disclosure of adoption information


Social workers providing birth records counselling under Schedule 2 to the Adoption and Children Act 2002 and social workers and counsellors providing disclosure of adoption information counselling** are trained and experienced in this type of counselling and have a thorough understanding of the legislation surrounding access to, and disclosure of, birth records, and the impact of reunion on all parties.

** Disclosure of adoption information counselling to adults under the Adoption Information and Intermediary Services (Pre-Commencement Adoptions) Regulations 2005 and the Disclosure of Adoption Information (Post-Commencement Adoptions) Regulations 2005


Any individual who provides disclosure of adoption information counselling who is not a social worker or counsellor, works under the direct supervision of a social worker or counsellor experienced in that work and who takes responsibility for the counselling.

Other staff


Where unqualified staff and volunteers carry out social work functions they do so under the direct supervision of experienced social workers, who are accountable for their work.


Support workers working with birth parents have a good knowledge and understanding of adoption legislation and process and work under the direct supervision of experienced social workers, who are accountable for their work.

Persons on the central list


The adoption agency provides each person on the central list with an opportunity of observing an adoption panel meeting before they sit on an adoption panel.


Each person on the central list is given induction training which is completed within 10 weeks of being included on the central list.


Each person on the central list is given the opportunity of attending an annual joint training day with the agency’s adoption staff.


Each person on the central list has access to appropriate training and skills development and is kept abreast of relevant changes to legislation, regulation and guidance.

Adoption agency’s decision-maker


The decision-maker is a senior person within the adoption agency or is a trustee or director of the voluntary adoption agency, who is a social worker with at least 3 years post qualifying experience in child care social work and has knowledge and experience of permanency planning for children; adoption and child care law and practice;