A REGIONAL adoption agency will be set up by Shropshire Council and three neighbouring authorities.

The council’s cabinet signed off the move at a meeting on Wednesday, after Councillor Ed Potter, who has been working on the plans, said it was a “hugely positive move”.

It will see the council work in-line with Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Staffordshire County Council and Telford & Wrekin Council in a bid to find secure homes for at-risk children.

Councillor Potter said: “This is a hugely positive move for us as a council and will result in looked after children having better care.

“It will be good all round for the authorities involved and will also see future savings made.

“I recommend the cabinet goes along with the proposal.”

The cabinet voted unanimously to approve the proposal.

Councillor Potter added: “It was suit our needs a lot better than the current arrangements.”

A report by council officer Karen Bradshaw, which was sent to members of the cabinet, said the the agency will give youngsters a sense of stability and commitment.

She said: “The partnership came together because of the four local authorities shared vision to create an arrangement which goes beyond adoption and includes fostering, special guardianship and connected persons.

“The partnership has a shared mission to lead the local, regional and national agenda in respect of achieving permanence for all looked after children who require it.

“The partnership is proposing a collaborative regional permanency arrangement which combines the expertise of the four local authorities, working together to find local, caring, stable and loving homes for looked after children who require permanence, giving a child a sense of stability, continuity, commitment and identity.”

She added: “The partnership will be a unique arrangement, creating a sustainable system which operates on a regional footprint, maximising resources, capacity and flexibility, which leads to improvements in service delivery, effective practice and long-term outcomes for children, while maintaining the independence of each individual local authority.”

Ms Bradshaw added: “Most children will have their need for stability and nurturing met by their birth parents and will not require support from, or come to the attention of, local authority children’s services.

“A small number of children will come into the care of the local authority and will require long term provision away from their birth parents.

“Where children require long term care, local authority children’s services will prioritise the achievement of permanency.

“Failing to achieve permanency for looked after children can lead to a detrimental impact on their short, medium and long-term outcomes, including a direct impact on their sense of security, continuity, commitment and identity.”