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Adoption and Children Act (Northern Ireland) 2022

Section 4: The Adoption Service

Under section 4, every adoption authority must maintain within their area an adoption service designed to meet the needs, in relation to adoption, of children who may be adopted, their parents and guardians; persons wishing to adopt a child; and adopted persons, their parents, natural parents and former guardians, and for that purpose must provide the requisite facilities (subsection (1)). Facilities must include making, and participating in, arrangements for the adoption of children and for the provision of adoption support services (subsection (2)). In addition to the duty to make arrangements for the provision of adoption support services to the categories of persons listed in subsection (1), subsection (3)(a) places a duty on the adoption authority to make arrangements for the provision of adoption support services to persons prescribed in regulations. Subsection (3)(b) provides that an adoption authority may also extend the provision of such services to other persons.

Adoption authorities may meet their obligation to provide the requisite facilities by ensuring that they are provided by an appropriate voluntary organisation, or in relation to the provision of adoption support services of a prescribed description, a voluntary organisation, or such other persons as may be specified in regulations (subsection (4)). A “voluntary organisation” is defined in section 159 as a body (other than a public body) the activities of which are not carried on for profit. Subsection (5) provides that facilities of the adoption service must be provided in conjunction with any other social care provided by an adoption authority, with appropriate voluntary organisations and with voluntary organisations providing facilities under subsection 4(a), so that help may be given in a co-ordinated manner without duplication, omission or avoidable delay.

Subsection (6) provides that “social care” has the meaning given by section 2(5) of the Health and Social Care (Reform) Act (Northern Ireland) 2009 (and, in particular, social care in so far as it relates to children).

The provisions in sections 2, 3 and 4 will be used to give effect to the new framework for adoption support services, including financial support.

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Explanatory Notes

Text created by the Northern Ireland Assembly department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes accompany all Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly.


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