National Care Standards: Adoption Agencies: Revised March 2005

National Care Standards: Adoption Agencies: Revised March 2005 Edition


The Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care ('the Care Commission') has been responsible for the registration and inspection of a range of services, including adoption services provided by adoption agencies, since April 2002. The term 'adoption agency' means local authorities acting as adoption agencies, and registered adoption services (previously approved adoption societies). Section 2(11)(b) of the Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001 ('the Act') refers to these agencies and they are registered under Part 1 of the Act.

The national care standards for adoption agencies have been developed to ensure that the services they provide are of high quality.

Adoption services

Children and young people are entitled to grow up as part of a loving family that meets their needs through childhood and beyond. In most circumstances, this will be the child's birth family and may include extended family members. For other children this may be achieved through adoption. Adoption is for life and adoptive parents have full parental responsibilities for their child.

Adoption is changing. For example, more children who are adopted are older and have more complex needs; a number of adoptions are of children from other countries; step-parents may adopt their partner's child; and more adopted children stay in contact or continue to receive information about members of their birth family.

If children cannot live with their birth parents or extended family members, plans to meet their long-term needs must be made without delay. If adoption is the chosen plan, the time taken to complete the adoption process should take account of children's needs and individual characteristics. There should be no unnecessary delays.

Evidence suggests that when children are placed with their brothers and sisters, placements are more likely to succeed. Usually, steps should be taken to find a placement that can meet the needs of all the children in the family group together. Placing agencies must also try to meet children's ethnic, cultural, faith and language needs. Individual agencies may not have a wide enough range of families available for all children and must work together to share resources.

Careful preparation of children can help make an adoption successful and children's views should be well represented at each stage of the adoption process. Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that children and young people have a right to express a view about the things that affect them.

Services that are identified as being needed prior to placement should be available. Children and young people may need the opportunity to share experiences with others who are adopted. Services such as children's groups, talklines and newsletters can be valuable. Some families and children need long-term support. Others may need help at a particular stage. Support should be readily available when the family needs it. Adoption agencies have a duty to provide post-adoption support services to children, adopters, anyone else with a problem related to adoption such as birth parents, and services to adopted adults.

The national care standards

Scottish Ministers set up the National Care Standards Committee ( NCSC) to develop national standards. The NCSC carried out this work with the help of a number of working groups. The adoption agencies standards have been prepared by representatives of local authorities, voluntary adoption agencies, adoptive parents, birth parents, adults adopted as children and the Scottish Executive. Many others were also involved in the consultation process.

Using the national care standards

Services for children, young people and adults who were adopted as children ( standards 1 to 12)

These standards are for children and young people who are adopted or are going through the process of being adopted. There are also standards for adults who were adopted as children.

Services for birth families ( standards 13 to 17)

These standards are for relatives of children who are being adopted or who have been adopted. The standards are primarily for birth parents but are also for brothers and sisters and other relatives.

Services for adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents ( standards 18 to 31)

These standards are for parents of adopted children and for people who wish to adopt. They also set out how agencies should work to recruit families for children.

Management and staffing arrangements - the adoption agency ( standard 32)

The standards in this section reflect the importance of knowing that the people who are responsible for the agency have the necessary experience, skills and training.

The principles behind the standards

The standards are based on a set of principles. These principles are the result of all the contributions made by the NCSC, its working groups and everyone else who responded to the consultations on the standards as they were being written. They recognise that services must be accessible and suitable for everyone who needs them, including people from black and ethnic minority communities. They reflect the strong agreement that your experience of receiving services is very important and should be positive, and that you have rights.

The main principles

The principles are dignity, privacy, choice, safety, realising potential and equality and diversity.


Your right to:

  • be treated with dignity and respect at all times; and
  • enjoy a full range of social relationships.


Your right to:

  • have your privacy and property respected; and
  • be free from unnecessary intrusion.


Your right to:

  • make informed choices, while recognising the rights of other people to do the same; and
  • know about the range of choices.


Your right to:

  • feel safe and secure in all aspects of life, including health and wellbeing;
  • enjoy safety but not be over-protected; and
  • be protected from exploitation and abuse.

Realising potential

Your right to have the opportunity to:

  • achieve all you can;
  • make full use of the resources that are available to you; and
  • make the most of your life.

Equality and diversity

Your right to:

  • live an independent life, rich in purpose, meaning and personal fulfilment;
  • be valued for your ethnic background, language, culture and faith;
  • be treated equally and be cared for in an environment which is free from bullying, harassment and discrimination; and
  • be able to complain effectively without fear of victimisation.

The Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care

The Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001 ('the Act') set up the Care Commission, which registers and inspects all the services regulated under the Act, taking account of the national care standards issued by Scottish Ministers. The Care Commission has its headquarters in Dundee, with regional offices across the country. It will assess applications from people who want to provide registered services. It will inspect the services to make sure that they are meeting the regulations and in doing so will take account of the national care standards. You can find out more about the Care Commission and what it does from its website (

The Scottish Social Services Council

The Act created the Scottish Social Services Council ('the Council') which was established on 1 October 2001. It also has its headquarters in Dundee. The Council has the duty of promoting high standards of conduct and practice among social services workers, and in their education and training. To deliver its overall aims of protecting service users and carers and securing the confidence of the public in social services, the Council has been given five main tasks. These are: to establish registers of key groups of social services staff; to publish codes of practice for all social services staff and their employers; to regulate the conduct of registered workers; to regulate the training and education of the workforce; to undertake the functions of the National Training Organisation for the Personal Social Services. The Council has issued codes of practice for social service workers and employers of social service workers. These describe the standards of conduct and practice within which they should work. The codes are available from the Council website (


If you would like to comment on these standards you can visit our website and send a message through our mailbox:

You can also contact us at:

Care Standards and Sponsorship Branch
Community Care Division
Pimary and Community Care Directorate
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh EH1 3DG

Tel: 0131 244 5387
Fax: 0131 244 4005

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