Sector capacity building

Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies


By working in partnership with England’s voluntary adoption agencies, we equipped different organisations with a clearer understanding of how to grow capacity and diversify – while also fostering powerful new relationships across the sector to enhance its wider profile.


Voluntary adoption agencies (VAAs) recruit and assess prospective adopters – creating matches for children who are in the care of a local authority, who then pay the VAAs for their services.

At a time of volatility and change in relation to looked after children, the Department for Education issued a series of grants to significantly increase the capacity of the voluntary adoption sector.

Responsible for administering these funds, the Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies commissioned us to work with each of England’s 20+ agencies – hugely diverse in terms of size and specialism – to develop a shared understanding of the sector.

Alongside technical surveys auditing skills, specialisms and performance monitoring frameworks, we spoke to CEOs and employees from diverse agencies to collate reflections, experiences and ambitions.

In cross-pollinating between different organisations, we empowered agencies to think in a more business-oriented way – recognising that strategies to build skills and capacity, while employing the language of ‘cold hard business’, have an important place in the otherwise more genteel world of adoption.

More than that, however, our work enabled agencies to better understand how they can work together and act in a more coordinated fashion: championing their invaluable work, and understanding how the sector’s diversity could add to its long-term cohesion and resilience.