Robert Paterson, the Bishop of the Isle of Man, has expressed concern about plans to transfer the adoption services of a charity he is president of to another voluntary organisation.
Last week the Tynwald, the island’s parliament, passed a vote allowing the Manx Churches Adoption Welfare Society, also known as the Isle of Man Adoption Service, to transfer the contract it holds with the Isle of Man government to provide adoption services to the Children’s Centre, a fostering and community services charity.
The vote was necessary because the Tynwald needed to approve the Children’s Centre as a provider of adoption services.
Paterson is a member of the Tynwald and voted in favour, but also raised concerns during the debate about the implications of the service being transferred from one charity to another.
He told Third Sector that he wanted to alert the Tynwald to "the fact that there are competing views over the appropriateness of the Isle of Man Adoption Service disappearing and going into the Children’s Centre."
He said he was concerned that staff might choose not to transfer to the Children’s Centre, due to its inferior pension arrangements.
Patterson said that although the Children’s Centre had experience in fostering, it would not have the skills required to provide adoption services if it didn’t employ Isle of Man Adoption Service staff.
"If significant numbers of staff don’t transfer then the centre simply doesn’t have adequate experience," he said.
John Knight, chief executive of the Children’s Centre, said the charity was well aware that fostering and adoption were different services. "Some people will say that fostering and adoption sit very well together. We don’t see any harm in bringing the two together," said Knight.
Knight said the Children’s Centre was prepared to take all the staff working at the adoption service but he acknowledged that some might chose not to take up the offer. "It would be sad if people did leave because our terms are slightly different around pensions," he said. "We do have a pension scheme."
Knight said he was confident that the Children’s Centre would be able to offer a good adoption service for the island. "I think it will build on the provision that has been very sound so far, but with the increased capacity of the Children’s Centre."
The transfer of the adoption services contract was finalised last Friday, Knight said, He said the Isle of Man Adoption Service would close on the 17 May and the Children’s Centre would begin to provide adoption services on 18 May.
The Isle of Man Adoption Service did not respond to a request for comment.