Types of Adoption Agency

All adoption agencies in England are one of three types of organisation; either they are part of a Local Authority (LA), Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) or they are an independent Voluntary Adoption Agency (VAA).

The main difference is that LAs have children in their care, and VAAs do not. RAAs are formed from several LAs from a region who have joined forces in a government-led initiative to pool resources and increase efficiency in the adoption process.

VAAs  recruit and assess prospective adopters; they create matches for children who are in the care of a Local Authority, and are then paid by the local authority to cover their costs (no profit is permitted).

Voluntary adoption agencies are registered and assessed by Ofsted and they vary in scale: some are regionally based, such as the Yorkshire Adoption Agency while others are major national organisations, such as Barnardo’s.


The Local Authority children’s services team have responsibility for finding homes for children in care. Both voluntary adoption agencies and local authorities search for prospective adopters to become new parents.

Neither Local Authorities nor voluntary adoption agencies charge for their services to prospective parents from within the UK, though there are some charges for those who wish to adopt children from abroad.

All adoption agencies are subject to strict regulatory control and regular Ofsted inspections.