PLANS for a regional adoption agency are to be closely monitored as council bosses look to maintain their high standards.

Members of Darlington Borough Council's cabinet heard that the scheme to bring together the Tees Valley local authorities – Hartlepool, Redcar and Cleveland, Middlesbrough, Stockton and Darlington – was being driven by the government.

Councillor Cyndi Hughes, cabinet member for children and young people, told members that Stockton Borough Council would be the lead authority.

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In the report, prepared Suzanne Joyner, director of the council's children and adults services, it outlined the Government's vision for the delivery of adoption services across the country.

It reads: "The Government’s view is that structural change will improve the process for children and adopters leading to improved numbers of children being adopted, an improved experience for adopters and improved timeliness overall."

Plans for the scheme have been worked on a since 2015 and the new arrangement should come into operation next year.

Cllr Hughes said: "We are really obliged to work much closer together on regional business and that's what this report is all about."

Concern was raised by the leader of the council's conservative group, Cllr Heather Scott, that changes to the service could impact on the wellbeing of young people in the borough.

She said: "I see the benefits of having a large pool for people to put on the adoption register but in Darlington we haven't really had a problem but I have been reassured that we will still an input in the service.

"I know it's selfish but we do need reassurances that if we are putting children up for adoption that it won't affect Darlington's young people in our care."

Members were reassured that bi-annual meetings will be held with lead members or portfolio holders of all five local authorities to ensure strategic direction and oversight of performance management, outcomes for children and functioning of the adoption Tees Valley service.

But council leader, Cllr Bill Dixon urged more regular monitoring to ensure that the council's success in finding adoptive families was not affected by the creation of the regional agency.

He said: "We need quarterly reviews so that we can compare the details against what we have achieved. We don't want to go backwards when it comes to looking after children's wellbeing."