SERIOUS concerns were raised by the Bishop in Tynwald about the proposed merger of an adoption charity with the Children’s Centre.
Bishop Robert Paterson said he had not been consulted about the move to close the Manx Churches Adoption Welfare Society, a charity for which he is president, and to have its work taken over by the Children’s Centre.
He argued that alternative options should have been researched and expressed concern that the move could result in a number of experienced adoption staff leaving the service.
Phil Braidwood MLC proposed that the motion to approve the Adoption Society Order 2013 be adjourned for a month until Tynwald members were given more information.
But his adjournment failed, with the vote split 11 to 11 in the House of Keys and by four votes to four in the Legislative Council, and the order itself was carried by 12 votes to 10 in the Keys and five votes to three in LegCo.
Social Care Minister Chris Robertshaw MHK said his department had been acting as ‘honest brokers’ after being approached by the Adoption Society which had wanted its functions transferred to the Children’s Centre.
Bishop Paterson said: ‘I do have some serious concerns. It is clearly not a merger as it was presented to us originally.
‘Unfortunately without telling the president, the directors, without discussion, decided to close and ask the Children’s Centre to take over the work. I’ve got a great of sympathy with the decision. But alternatives should have been more thoroughly researched.’
He said there may be many good reasons for bringing the adoption services into the Children Centre – but two ‘very serious problems’ had to be sorted out first. The Bishop suggested that adoption and fostering were ‘entirely different’ operations – and questioned whether consideration had been given to the distinctiveness of these two operations and the separate skills they require.
And he warned that issues about differing employment terms and pension arrangements may lead to a number of experienced adoption staff leaving the service rather than transferring.
‘If despite very good intentions they do not transfer, the Children’s Centre might be struggling, in fact probably would be struggling with the adoption service.’
Calling for an adjournment, Mr Braidwood said the Bishop had only been informed about ‘this so-called merger’ on March 13.
But acting Attorney General John Quinn pointed out this was simply an enabling order which was not actually taking into effect any transfer. Curiously, the Bishop, despite expressing his concerns, did not support the adjournment, arguing that this would imply there was something wrong with what the Children’s Centre is doing.
Bill Henderson (Douglas North), urged members to support the adjournment, arguing there was an ‘obvious degree of uncertainty here’. Kate Beecroft (Lib Van, Douglas South) said that so many doubts had been raised and she would like more time ‘to find out the score’.
But Economic Development Minister John Shimmin pointed out this was an issue between two charities which had become a ‘political football’. ‘It is very unfortunate this has been raised at the 11th hour.’
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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