An adoption agency which recently joined forces with Cambridgeshire County Council has won a top national award.

The concurrent planning arrangements established by the County Council and adoption agency Coram (CCA) have won the Excellence in Practice award at the National Adoption Awards.

Concurrency planning is an approach for young children whereby foster care is provided by prospective adopters of the child. If the birth family, following support are able to get to the point of caring for their child then the child is returned to them. If the view is that the birth parents are unable to care for the child then the child is adopted by the foster carers.

The significant advantage for the child is that they have longer term placement stability through not having to move from foster care to adopting families. For younger children in particular, moves can have a significant impact on their development and wellbeing. Concurrent planning does though need a very skilled and specialist social work input.

The County Council first developed concurrency planning arrangements through the formal partnership that was created with Coram, which included Coram providing a manager for the Council's adoption service.

Last year this arrangement was strengthened through the creation of Coram Cambridgeshire Adoption a new Voluntary Adoption Agency.

Since Coram Cambridgeshire Adoption was launched August 2014, 16 babies have been placed for adoption through concurrent planning. The service was also awarded Good across all areas by Ofsted in its recent inspection. Managing Director of CCA, Sarah Byatt said: "This award is not for one person or for one team, it is a tribute to organisations coming together and embedding the child-centred philosophy and practice of concurrent planning at all levels.

"Without the determination and integrity of all those working in and leading Cambridgeshire's Permanence and Family Finding Units at Coram Cambridgeshire Adoption, this would not have been possible.

"Concurrent planning also depends on the brave, compassionate and dedicated concurrent carers who come forward and embark on their relationship with young children, giving them security and love, not knowing the outcome, but trusting that it will be the best one for the child. 

"This is complicated work, but at the heart of our decisions are vulnerable babies who are in desperate need of loving families; we have won this award for them."

Coram has pioneered concurrent planning for 15 years and now works with over a dozen local authorities, rolling the scheme out nationally.

The awards ceremony was organised by First4Adoption as part of National Adoption Week, and was attended by Children's Minister, Edward Timpson MP, star of Scott and Bailey, actress Lesley Sharp, and hosted by adoptive mum and actress, Clare Grogan.

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