Placement for Adoption
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTERThis chapter was updated in December 2017 by adding a link to Research in Practice, Contact after adoption, (see Relevant Guidance above). This provides practical resources which bring together knowledge from research and practice to support professionals to be reflective when developing contact plans.
1. Planning for Permanence
|1.1||Every Child Looked After must have a Permanence Plan by the date of his or her second Looked After Review. The Care Plan for adoption for a child should be made at the LA review and it may be necessary to reconvene an early LAC review for this purpose. Where this is not possible the case file should still demonstrate the date this Care Plan was decided upon, who was involved in the decision and the rational for this.|
|1.2||In considering whether adoption is the appropriate plan for the child, the adoption agency must have regard to the Welfare Checklist.|
|1.3||As soon as an adoption plan is being considered in relation to a Child Looked After, a Planning Meeting must be held. An adoption social worker should be invited and a representative from Legal Services where possible. The Planning Meeting Agenda should be followed and the meeting recorded on the Planning Meeting Recording Form and distributed without delay to all parties. Once the plan for adoption is ratified at review the child's social worker should provide the child's birth parents with an Information Leaflet describing support available to them from an independent adoption support agency (see Section 4, Independent Counselling and Support For Parents).|
|1.4||Twin tracking and where appropriate, Concurrent Care should be considered at the earliest opportunity, including the need for funding for an interagency placement if required.|
|1.5||In relation to an unborn child and not yet looked after, the initial agreement to an adoption plan should be discussed at an early Planning Meeting and subsequently be confirmed in the child's Care Plan, once the child becomes Looked After.|
|1.6||In relation to a Relinquished Child, an early planning meeting should be arranged to which a representative of the Adoption Service must be invited. Where adoption is considered to be the preferred option for a relinquished child, it should begin family finding immediately in order to achieve early placement following the decision.|
|1.7||Family finding should begin as soon as adoption is under consideration, and before the Agency Decision Maker decides that the child should be placed for adoption or a Placement Order is made.|
|1.8||In the case of siblings, an early decision should be taken as to whether it is in the best interests of each child to be placed together or separately, and the impact on each child of that decision. The decision should be based on a balanced assessment of the individual needs of each child in the group, and the likely or possible consequences of each option on each child. Factors that may need to be considered will include: the nature of the sibling group (do the siblings know each other / how are they related); the trauma experience of each child and how this impacts on the sibling relationship, whether the children have formed an attachment; the health needs of each child; and each child's view (noting that a child's views and perceptions will change over time).|
With effect from July 2014, there is a duty (under s. 22C of the Children Act 1989 (amended by the Children and Families Act 2014)) imposed upon local authorities that where:
2. Obtaining Agency Approval to Adoption Plan
|2.2||The child's social worker opens an Adoption Case Record for the child. Where the plan relates to a group of siblings, there must be a separate Adoption Case Record for each child once adoption has been identified as the permanence plan for the child at his or her Looked After Review or, where a child has been relinquished for adoption, as soon as the parents request for adoption has been made.|
|2.3||If not already obtained, the child's social worker should obtain 2 certified copies of the child's full birth certificate. These will be required for future Court applications and for the prospective adopters.|
he child's social worker should give both birth parents information on Adoption and the potential implications for them and ask them to sign confirmation of receipt. The provision of information should be recorded on the Adoption Case Record.If either or both of the birth parents refuse to accept or do not receive the information, this should be recorded, including the reasons, on the child's case file and Adoption Case Record. Where the parents' address is known, the child's social worker should personally deliver or arrange for delivery by hand of a copy of the information to the address and record this on the Adoption Case Record. See also Section 4, Independent Counselling and Support of Parents.
|2.5||The child's social worker must seek (if they have not already done so) the birth parents' Consent to the disclosure of information on their medical history to facilitate the Adoption Medical for the child - for detailed procedures, see Section 5, Child's Adoption Medical.|
|2.6||The child's social worker must discuss with the parents their views on the adoption plan, and arrange the necessary counselling and support for both of the birth parents and any other significant relatives. For detailed procedure, see Section 4, Independent Counselling and Support of Parents. If either or both of the parents decline or refuse counselling and/or support, then this should be recorded, including the reasons, in the child's file and Adoption Case Record.|
|2.7||Where one or both of the birth parents cannot be found, the child's social worker must make extensive enquiries as to their whereabouts. The social worker should write to the parent's last known address and contact the Benefits Agency and other agencies as appropriate. Consideration should also be given to the need to place advertisements in the local and national press and legal advice should be sought as to any additional steps that should be taken.|
|2.8||The child's social worker must contact the child's school or nursery and the Virtual School for current information in relation to the child's educational needs.|
|2.9||The child's social worker must contact the child's school or the relevant local education authority for current information in relation to the child's educational needs.|
|2.10||The child's social worker must ask the child's carer to complete a Form CR-C carers report to accompany the medical report on the child. This will also be required for the Child's Permanence Report - see Paragraph 2.13.)|
The child's social worker must ensure that the adoption plan addresses the issue of post-placement and post-adoption contact and discuss this with the family finder. This will include a possible meeting between the parents and the adopters, and whether there may be ongoing direct contact or indirect contact via a letterbox system - see Section 6, Post-Adoption Contact.If the child has siblings, the plan must analyse the relationship between each child in the sibling group and, if the decision is to place siblings separately, address the issue of post-placement and post-adoption contact between them. In addition, unless there are compelling reasons for siblings to be separated, a sibling assessment would be expected to be undertaken.
|2.12||The child's social worker and the Adoption Support Social Worker must also carry out an assessment of the likely needs for adoption support services in relation to the child (including the likely need for financial support), the birth parents and any other person with a significant relationship to the child. For the detailed procedures, see chapter on Adoption Support Procedure.|
Using all the information obtained in relation to the above, the child's social worker must prepare the Child's Permanence Report. The Child's Permanence Report must be written by a qualified social worker with suitable experience (see Section 5, Adoption Panel Procedure).
The following areas must be included or addressed in the Report:
The child's social worker will receive advice and guidance from their manager/supervisor in compiling/writing the Child's Permanence Report.
A copy of the Report or the relevant sections of the Report should be provided to the parents and the child where appropriate. When shared the parents should be asked to sign the Report to confirm they have seen it and have had the opportunity to provide any written comments they wish to make.
Presentation to the Adoption Panel:
See Section 2.1 for circumstances when the case will be referred to the Adoption Panel or directly to the Agency Decision Maker.
This must take place within 6 weeks of the completion of the Child's Permanence Report.
To enable the Adoption Panel to consider whether the child is suitable to be placed for adoption, the child's social worker must present the following reports:
The child's social worker will send the completed Child's Permanence Report and accompanying documents to the Panel Administrator by the Panel deadline for Panel papers (at least 5 working days prior to Panel).
The child's social worker together with his or her manager if appropriate will attend the Panel meeting during consideration of the matter.
(N.B. Where the social worker is seeking a recommendation in relation to a proposed placement of the child with particular prospective adopters at the same time, the procedure set out in Section 9, Approval of Matching of Adoption Parents must also be followed).
The Panel will consider the written reports and any additional information presented verbally. The Panel will make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker. Where the Panel recommends that the child should be placed for adoption, it must consider and may give advice as to future contact arrangements for the child and whether an application for a Placement Order should be made.The recommendation and advice will be recorded in writing, together with reasons, in the Panel's minutes. A copy of the relevant minute must be held on the child's Adoption Case Record.
After the Adoption Panel
After the Adoption Panel, the Panel Administrator will send the written recommendation and advice, together with the reports considered by the Panel, to the Agency Decision Maker, who will make a decision based on these documents within 7 working days. The decision will be recorded in writing, with reasons.
Where the Agency Decision Maker is minded to disagree with the Panel recommendation, he/she must first discuss the case with another senior officer with relevant experience, who must not be a Panel member. This discussion must be recorded and placed on the child's Adoption Case Record.
The Panel Administrator will communicate the decision to the child's social worker, who will convey the decision orally to the parents within 2 working days.
The Panel Administrator will write to the parents informing them of the decision and pass the letters to the child's social worker for sending to the parents within 5 working days. The child's social worker will also ensure that the child is informed of the decision in a timely and age-appropriate way.Where the decision is different from the Panel's recommendation, a copy of the Panel minute should also be sent to the parents.
Referral directly to the Agency Decision Maker:
The child's social worker will send the relevant reports to the Agency Adviser at least 7 working days before the relevant date booked with the Agency Decision Maker.
The social worker's Team Manager will be responsible for quality assurance of the reports before they are submitted to the Agency Decision Maker.
The Agency Adviser is also responsible for checking the quality of the reports before they are submitted to ADM.
In making the decision the ADM may discuss the case with the Agency Adviser, legal adviser and medical adviser. However, there is no provision for adjoining the decision to allow time for taking advice.N.B. The ADM is expressly prohibited from referring a case to the Adoption Panel for advice.
|2.17||After the Decision
Refer to Paragraph 2.15 for timescale for informing birth parents.
|2.18||When the decision has been made to seek a Placement Order in relation to the child, the child's social worker should consult Legal Services in order to prepare the Court application.|
|2.19||Where there is Parental Consent to Adoptive Placement and/or advance Parental Consent to the child's adoption, and the child is more than 6 weeks old, the child's social worker must arrange for a written request to be sent to CAFCASS to appoint an officer to witness the consent. Where there is Parental Consent to the child's placement and the child is less than 6 weeks old, the social worker should ask the parents to sign a written agreement in the prescribed form to facilitate an early placement.|
As set out in the Protocol with CAFCASS, the social worker should send to the CAFCASS office closest to the parents' address, a certified copy of the child's birth certificate, the name and address of the parent, a chronology of the actions and decisions made by the local authority and confirmation that the parents have received counselling and written information on the legal implications of giving consent to the placement/adoption.Where the child lives in Wales, the request should be forwarded to the Welsh National Assembly.
|2.21||On receipt of the parent's consent witnessed by the CAFCASS officer, the original must be placed on the child's Adoption Case Record (as it will be required for the future adoption application).|
3. Preparation of Child for Adoption
|3.1||The child's social worker will ensure that Life Work with the child continues with the aim as far as possible that:
As part of the above, the child will be given a Children's Guide to Adoption as soon as adoption is part of the child's Care Plan. Any information given to the child should be confirmed in writing and any discussions with the child should be fully recorded. The Child's preferred method of communication should be known and there should be no assumption that a child is unable to communicate. An interpreter should be arranged where necessary to ensure that there is effective communication with the child.
The social worker should specifically ensure that the child's wishes in relation to adoption, religious and cultural upbringing and contact with his or her birth family are ascertained.Where a child's wishes are not acted upon, for example a child's wish to be placed with his or her siblings, this should be explained to the child, with reasons, and should be fully recorded.
|3.2||The foster carers' supervising social worker will support the foster carers in playing their part in the implementation of the plan, including careful recording by the foster carers of any changes in the child's behaviour.|
|3.3||Once an adoptive placement has been identified and approved, the child's social worker is responsible for ensuring the child is properly prepared for the first meeting with the prospective adoptive family and is appropriately counselled during the period of introductions - see Section 10, Planning the Placement. As part of the preparation of the child for the adoptive placement, information will be provided to ensure that s/he has a proper understanding about the accommodation and others living at the prospective adoptive home, the contact arrangements with the birth family and how to contact his or her social worker.|
The child's social worker will encourage the parents to write a 'Later Life' letter for the child, and to provide information to enable the social worker to write a 'Later Life' letter for the child (to give to the adopters) within 10 working days of adoption ceremony, i.e. the ceremony to celebrate the making of the adoption order.(See also Use of Photography or Videos with Children Looked After Procedure).
4. Independent Counselling and Support for Parents
|4.1||Both parents must be offered counselling and support irrespective of whether they have Parental Responsibility unless there are exceptional circumstances, in which case legal advice should be taken and the reasons for not arranging counselling recorded. They are entitled to an assessment of their support needs before and after adoption and this should be provided independently of the child's social worker.|
|4.2||It may also be appropriate for members of the extended family to receive counselling or support, where they have played a significant role in the child's life.|
|4.3||The child's social worker must explain to both parents (including a parent without Parental Responsibility) the reasons for the adoption plan and the key stages of the adoption process, including the likely time-scales and possible contact arrangements; in addition the social worker should provide them with written information on the adoption process covering the areas set out in Paragraph 4.8 a) to g), l) and m) below and this should be recorded.|
If either or both of the birth parents refuse to accept or do not receive the written information, this should be recorded, including the reasons, on the child's case file and Adoption Case Record.Where the parents' address is known, the child's social worker should personally deliver or arrange for delivery by hand of a copy of the information to the address and record this on the Adoption Case Record.
|4.5||The child's social worker must also seek to ascertain the parent's views on the matters set out in Paragraph 4.8 h) and k) below and offer to arrange independent support for both birth parents (including unmarried fathers). The purpose of the support is to ensure that the alternatives to adoption have been explored and the implications of adoption fully discussed. It also offers the parents the opportunity to express their views in relation to the plans for the child, and to be involved in planning for the child's future wherever possible. Where the offer of support is accepted, the social worker should make the necessary arrangements for a referral for independent support to be made.|
|4.6||The support may need to be provided by a specialist worker, for example where the parent has poor mental health or learning disabilities. If so, the social worker should ensure that an appropriate resource is identified.|
|4.7||The specific needs of parents arising from their ethnicity must always be taken into account. An interpreter must be arranged where English is not their preferred language.|
|4.8||The counselling and support will cover the following areas:
|4.9||The parents should be encouraged to seek legal advice particularly where they are opposed to the adoption plan. Where there is an unmarried father without Parental Responsibility, the social worker should also ascertain if he intends to apply for a Parental Responsibility Order and a Child Arrangements Order.|
|4.10||The parents and their solicitors, if appropriate, must be sent copies of any written consents and/or recording of their views.|
|4.11||Where the parents refuse or decline to accept counselling and/or support, the child's social worker must record the attempts made to persuade the parents and the reasons for their refusal in the child's file and Adoption Case Record.|
|4.12||Where the parents are seeking to have an expected child adopted, the counselling must start before the baby's birth. In addition, the child's social worker must cover practical tasks such as the arrangements for the birth, the parents' own contact with the child after the birth, the intended length of the mother's hospital stay and their wishes regarding the timing of the placement. After the child's birth, the counselling and support must continue. The social worker should then confirm with the parents that they still wish to pursue adoption for the child.|
|4.13||The social worker should arrange for photographs to be taken of the child and, if they agree, the parents and other significant people and places, for inclusion in the child's Life Story Book.|
5. Child's Adoption Medical
6. Post-Placement Contact
Under the Adoption and Children Act 2002 there is no prescription for contact. The plans for contact must be reviewed when adoption becomes the plan for the child when a Placement Order is made and again when an Adoption Order is made.
|6.1||The child's social worker must undertake a written assessment as to the best interests of the child to support any contact proposals as part of an adoption plan, or reasons why no contact is recommended. This assessment will take account of the views of the child, the parents, the foster carers and any other significant family members, as well as evidence of attachment and the quality of relationships, based on observations of contact and the child's behaviour before, during and after contact. This assessment will be recorded on the Adoption Support Plan presented to Panel along with the Adoption Placement Report. See Section 9, Approval of Matching of Adoptive Parents.|
|6.2||Where there is a sibling group, each child must be assessed separately and together as a group.|
The assessment should determine whether post-placement and post-adoption contact between the child and the parents and/or siblings would be in the child's best interests, and if so, what form it should take. The nature and frequency of contact will be influenced by the need to maintain attachments and/or long-term identity issues.
|6.4||Post-placement and post-adoption contact may take the following forms:
|6.5||Any proposed post-placement and post-adoption contact should be in line with any Court Orders.|
|6.6||Where post-placement and post-adoption contact is considered to be in the child's interests, it should be part of the information shared with prospective adoptive parents during the matching process - see Section 7, Identification of Adoptive Parents. Where indirect or direct contact is planned, the child's social worker must set up individual Contact Agreements between the adopters and each birth family member having contact - see Section 9, Planning the Placement.|
|6.7||When making an Adoption Order or any time afterwards, the court may (upon application or on its own initiative) make an Order for contact with, or an order prohibiting contact with, the person(s) named in the Order. Such Orders have effect until the child's 18th birthday, unless resolved sooner.|
|6.8||An Order for contact requires the adopter to allow the child to visit, stay with or otherwise have contact with, the person named in the Order.|
The following people may be named in an Order:
In deciding whether to grant leave to apply, the court must consider:
Orders may contain directions about how they are to take effect, or may be made subject to such conditions as the court thinks appropriate.The court will issue a timetable and directions with the aim of resolving the application without delay.
|6.11||Applications prohibiting contact are unlikely to be necessary in the majority of cases and are only likely to be appropriate to stop unwanted, unsolicited and potentially harmful contact with the child, or to prevent such contact happening.|
The circumstances in which a birth parent, relative or other person are most likely to seek the court's leave to apply for an Order for contact after adoption are where an agreement for some form of continuing contact had been made, but was not adhered to.Application can be made to the court to vary or revoke such Orders, by the child, adopter or person named in the Order.
7. Identification of Adoptive Parents
The adoption agency has a duty to identify prospective adopters as soon as reasonably practicable. Family finding should begin as soon as adoption is under consideration, and before the Agency Decision Maker decides that the child should be placed for adoption or a Placement Order is made.
In determining whether a prospective adopter may be suitable to adopt the child, an assessment must be made of the ability of the prospective adopter to meet the needs of the child throughout childhood.
Consideration must be given as to whether there are suitable carers available under the procedure for Fostering for Adoption and Concurrent Planning Placements in Knowsley.
The overall time-scale for matching a child with a prospective adoptive family is:
|7.1||Following the identification of the family finder (see Section 2, paragraph 2.1 above), the timing of the start of the family finding will depend on the legal position and be agreed between the child's social worker and the family finder. The family finder will arrange a meeting to plan the family finding for the child and agree timescales and responsibilities. The meeting will involve the family finder, the child's social worker, foster carer and any other relevant person. A checklist is available for this meeting, which can be used as an agenda, but will include:|
At the meeting those present will start to identify the child's needs in relation to a new family, including ethnicity, culture, religion, language, contact with the birth family and existing networks, education, health, other special needs and location, and the qualities required in the adoptive family, based on the child's identified placement needs.
Ethnicity must not be placed above everything else when identifying potential adopters for children.
It is unacceptable for a child to be denied adoptive parents solely on the grounds that the child and prospective adopter do not share the same racial or cultural background.
If a prospective adopter can meet most of the child's needs, but, for example they do not share the child's racial or cultural background, the core issue is what qualities, experiences and attributes the prospective adopter can draw on and their level of understanding of the discrimination and racism the child may be confronted with when growing up, at both an individual and institutional level. A prospective adopter can be matched with a child with whom they do not share the same ethnicity, if they can respect, reflect or actively develop a child's racial identity from the point they are matched and as they develop throughout their childhood. The prospective adopter needs to demonstrate that they fully understand that having a child from a different ethnic group will present a number of challenges, not least that there may be visible differences that can affect a child's self-esteem and increase their possible feelings of difference, for example, the child may have to deal with questions from their peers about why they are 'different' to their family.
With effect from July 2014, by virtue of the Children and Families Act 2014, adoption agencies no longer have to give due consideration to a child's religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background when matching a child and prospective adopters.
When a child has developed a sense of his or her culture or religion, and where he or she has already begun to speak a language other than English, it is important to find prospective adopters who, while not necessarily sharing any of these, are willing and able to help the child develop these important elements of their future identity.
This Adoption Plan should address how the child and parents may be involved in and express views about the process.
The family finder should add the information to the child's case file.
The child's social worker, current foster carer and the adoption social worker will complete the child's profile, identifying the child's needs in relation to a new family, including ethnicity, culture, religion, language, contact with birth family and existing networks, education, health, other special needs and location, and the qualities required in the adoptive family, based on the child's identified placement needs. The profile should identify which needs are essential and which preferred.
(Note: Additionally, if the prospective adopter can meet most of the child's needs, the social worker must not delay placing a child with the prospective adopter because they are single or older than other adopters.)Where the profile indicates the child should not be placed locally, there should also be a written risk assessment to support this conclusion.
The family finder will consider whether there are any potentially suitable in-house approved families (including families going through the assessment process) by sharing the child's profile with the Adoption Service and reading copies of any available Prospective Adopter's Reports.Where foster carers express an interest in adopting a child placed with them, see paragraph 7.7.
|7.4||Where there are potentially suitable in-house approved families, a Selection Meeting will be held to select the right adopters for the child. The adopters' social worker will discuss the child with them if the adopters have indicated a wish to be informed when being considered for a child.|
|7.5||The Selection Meeting will involve the child's social worker, the family finder and will be chaired by the Team Manager or their nominee.|
|7.6||The adoption social worker will provide the selected prospective adopters with full information on the child, including the Child's Permanence Report, the child's profile, a full description of the birth family including any siblings and the reasons for any decision to place the child separately, the child's medical history (including the birth details), the carer's report on the child, the current school reports and the child's PEP. The items provided should be clearly recorded and the prospective adopters should be asked to sign confirmation of receipt of this information.|
|7.7||The family finder should also arrange to meet the prospective adopters, with the child's social worker and carer as appropriate, to give any further information to them and ensure they have a clear picture of the child and understand fully the implications of the information they have received. The prospective adopters will always be given the opportunity of meeting the Medical Adviser to discuss the child's medical background and health needs.|
|7.8||If there are no suitable in-house prospective or approved adoptive carers who can meet the child's identified essential needs, the adoption worker must explore the local Consortium and if no approved adopters are available there, then other inter-agency options can be considered.|
Where foster carers express an interest in adopting a child they are looking after, and there is an adoption plan for the child, they will be ordered to put this request into writing to the Adoption and Foster Service Manager. The family finder will talk to them about the implications of adoption and will convene a Meeting involving the child's social worker, his or her team manager and the foster carers' supervising social worker (with his or her manager where appropriate). If the outcome of the meeting is that the foster carers appear to be able to meet the child's essential needs, the case will be allocated for an assessment of the foster carers as adopters to proceed (see Assessment and Approval of Prospective Adopters Procedure).
If they are approved as adopters, the requirements set out in Section 9, Approval of Matching of Adoptive Parents as to the approval of the matching and in Section 11, The Placement as to the provision of information and notification of the placement must be followed.
If the outcome of the meeting is that the foster carers are not able to meet the child's essential needs, the recruitment of adopters as set out in the preceding and following paragraphs of this chapter will apply. The foster carers' supervising worker will provide support and counselling to the foster carers as appropriate.If the foster carers decide to proceed with an application to adopt the child without the agreement of the agency, the procedure set out in the Non-Agency Adoptions Procedure will apply.
Inter Agency Placements
The Adoption Team Manager will ensure that consideration is given to all options for placement which will include referrals to the Regional Consortium, Adoption in Merseyside (AiM) and Inter Agency Placements according to the identified needs of the child.Where it is considered that a placement of the child with overseas adopters would be appropriate, see Section 13, Adoptive Placements Abroad.
Where recruitment of adopters from another agency has been authorised, the adoption social worker will undertake the following:
|7.12||Other members of the Adoption Service as well as the child's social worker should be made aware of the dates of the publicity and a response to callers should be agreed.|
Responses from families not yet approved should be dealt with as follows:
Responses from already approved families should be dealt with as follows:
|7.15||The procedure outlined in paragraphs 7.4 to 7.6 above will then be followed and the child's social worker and family finder will visit the selected prospective adopter prior to a Matching Meeting being held.|
The family finder will convene the matching meeting, The purpose of the matching meeting is to consider:
The meeting will be chaired by the Adoption Team Manager and attendees will include the child's social worker, the adopters social worker, the foster care and the foster carers social worker.
The minutes of the meeting will be included in the documentation for matching panel.The Adoption Placement Report must be written by a qualified social worker with suitable experience (see Adoption Panel Procedure, Reports to Adoption Panel) and must include the prospective adopter's views on the proposed placement, contact arrangements (including meeting with the birth parents), adoption support and any proposed restrictions on their exercise of Parental Responsibility after the placement.
|7.17||The child's social worker, adoption social worker, the prospective adopters' link worker and their respective managers should sign the Adoption Support Plan.|
|7.18||The child's social worker or adoption social worker should contact the Panel Administrator to arrange a date for the Adoption Panel to consider the proposed placement.|
|7.19||The child's social worker will keep the parents and child informed of progress (unless the parent has stated that he or she do not wish to be kept informed).|
|7.20||The adoption social worker should provide a copy of the Adoption Placement Report to the prospective adopters and give 10 working days to them to submit any written comments on its contents (or they can be asked to sign a disclaimer stating they do not wish to take 10 days to comment). Any disclaimer should be kept on their Adoption Case Record.|
8. Temporary Approval as Foster Carers of Approved Prospective Adopters
A person who is approved as a prospective adopter may be given temporary approval as a local authority foster carer for a named Child Looked After, where the local authority consider that this is in the child's best interests.
Before giving such approval, the responsible authority must:
- Assess the suitability of that person to care for the child as a foster carer; and
- Consider whether, in all the circumstances and taking into account the services to be provided by the responsible authority, the proposed arrangements will safeguard and promote the child's welfare and meet the child's needs as set out in the Care Plan.
The temporary approval period expires when:
- The placement is terminated by the local authority;
- The approval as a prospective adopter is terminated;
- The prospective adopter is approved as a foster carer;
- The prospective adopter gives 28 days' written notice that they no longer wish to be temporarily approved as a foster parent in relation to the child; or
- The child is placed for adoption with the prospective adopter.
9. Approval of Matching of Adoptive Parents
The overall time-scale for matching a child with a prospective adoptive family is:
Presentation to the Adoption Panel:
The child's social worker and the adoption social worker for the adopters (and the adoption social worker if an inter-agency placement) must present the following reports to the Adoption Panel:
|9.2||The child's social worker will send copies of the relevant reports to the Panel Administrator by the deadline date for reports (at least 5 working days before the date of the Adoption Panel).|
|9.3||The Panel Administrator will arrange for the Panel minutes in relation to the recommendations that the child should be placed for adoption and, where in-house approved, that the prospective adopters are suitable to be adopters, to be circulated to Panel members, with the reports. Where there is a proposed inter-agency placement, the adoption social worker will obtain the relevant Panel minutes for circulation.|
|9.4||The child's social worker and the adoption social worker will attend the Adoption Panel during consideration of the matter.|
|9.5||The Adoption Panel's recommendation as to whether the child should be placed for adoption with the particular prospective adopters will be recorded in writing, together with reasons, in the Panel's minutes. The Panel must also consider and may give advice in relation to the proposed adoption support, the proposed arrangements for contact and any proposed restrictions on the exercise of Parental Responsibility by the prospective adopters and/or the birth parents. A copy of the relevant Minute must be placed on the child's and the prospective adopters' Adoption Case Records.|
|9.6||The prospective adopters' social worker will convey the Panel's recommendation orally to the prospective adopters within 24 hours.|
After the Panel has considered the reports and made a written recommendation, the minute and reports considered by the Panel will be sent to the Agency Decision Maker who will make a decision based on this information within 7 working days of the Panel meeting. The decision will be recorded in writing. If the Panel has given advice in relation to adoption support, proposed contact and/or the exercise of Parental Responsibility by the prospective adopters and/or the birth parents, the Agency Decision Maker may express a view on such advice.Where the Agency Decision Maker is minded to disagree with the Panel recommendation, he/she must first discuss the case with another senior officer with relevant experience, who must not be a Panel member. This discussion must be recorded and placed on the child's and the prospective adopter's Adoption Case Record.
|9.8||The child's social worker will convey the decision orally to the parents within 2 working days.|
|9.9||The prospective adopters' social worker will convey the decision orally to the prospective adopters within 2 working days.|
|9.10||The Panel Administrator will prepare written notification of the decision to be signed by the Agency Decision Maker and once signed, sent to the child's social worker for sending by recorded or hand delivery to the parents within 5 working days.|
|9.11||The Panel Administrator will send the written notification, signed by the Agency Decision Maker, to the prospective adopters' social worker for sending to the adopters within 5 working days. Copies of this letter will also be sent to the family finder and the child's social worker.|
10. Planning the Placement
|10.1||Once the matching has been approved and the legal position allows it, the adoption social worker or the adopters social worker (if Knowsley approved adopters) will convene an Adoption Placement Planning Meeting to draw up an Adoption Placement Plan, confirming the details of the introductions, placement and post-placement work. The Adoption Manager or his/her nominee will chair the meeting.|
|10.2||For inter agency placements, a separate meeting will also be required, involving the Adoption Service Manager or his/her nominee, to complete CoramBAAF Form H1 which details the contract between the agencies and the adoptive family in relation to the placement.|
The purpose of the first Placement Planning Meeting is to draw up a proposed Adoption Placement Plan.
The Adoption Placement Plan should include:
It will also set out the steps required leading up to the child's placement with the prospective adopters, including the first meeting between the child and the prospective adoptive family, the programme of and detailed arrangements for their introductions (dates, times, venues, transport and accommodation), the reimbursement of any expenses of the introductions, any other financial assistance to enable the placement to occur and, where appropriate, a meeting between the parents and the prospective adopters.As part of the preparation of the child for the adoptive placement, information will be provided to ensure that s/he has a proper understanding about the accommodation and others living at the prospective adoptive home, the contact arrangements with the birth family and how to contact his or her social worker.
|10.4||The Adoption Placement Plan will also address when the prospective adopters will be supplied with all relevant written information about the child and who will provide it (for a full list of information to be supplied - see Section 11, The Placement).|
|10.5||The child's social worker must ascertain the child's views and report these to the meetings.|
|10.6||Those attending Placement Planning Meetings will be the child's social worker, his/her manager as appropriate, the foster carers, the foster carers' supervising social worker, the adoption social worker, representatives of the health trust (where appropriate), the prospective adopters and their link worker, and any other worker engaged in direct work with the child.|
|10.7||The child's first meeting with the prospective adopters should be on the child's familiar territory (unless the child is older and requests otherwise) and a social worker should be present. The pattern of introductory visits thereafter will depend on the child's age, needs and stage of development but consideration will be given to a gradual introductory programme involving visits increasing in length, progressing to an overnight stay, a weekend stay and in exceptional circumstances with an older child, a longer period prior to the final move. Overnight stays will not be planned for babies and small children but where possible the child will spend time toward the end of the introductions with the adopters in their home.|
However, all workers involved must be clear about their respective roles and responsibilities in the implementation of the plan, and what should happen in the event of difficulties. Changes to the Adoption Placement Plan can only be made with the agreement of the child's social worker or the Adoption Team Manager and must be notified to the prospective adopters in writing.The child's social worker is expected to be in regular and frequent contact with the child, foster carer and prospective adopter during the period of the introductions and all involved share information with each other on a regular basis, at the frequency identified at the Adoption Placement Planning Meetings. The Adoption Placement Plan will then be reviewed at an agreed date - see paragraph 10.10. The Plan will identify the named workers and when they will have contact with the child.
|10.9||The child's social worker will advise the parents of the plan whilst maintaining the confidentiality of the placement (unless the parent has stated that he or she does not wish to be kept informed).|
|10.10||At the mid-point of the introductions, a Review will be held, at which the following areas will be addressed:
11. The Placement
|11.1||Once the matching of the child has been approved, the adoption agency has authority to place the child (either through a Placement Order or Parental Consent to Adoptive Placement), the plan of introductions has been successfully completed and the Adoption Placement Plan has been completed and signed by all parties, the placement can go ahead. A social worker must be present when the placement takes place.|
Prior to the placement, the child's social worker must ensure that all the following information/items have been provided to the prospective adopters:
12. Children Approved for Adoption for whom no Placement has been Identified
|12.1||The child will be the subject of regular Adoption Reviews, chaired by the IRO - see Adoption Reviews Procedure.|
|12.2||In all cases, where a child has been approved for adoption but not placed within 6 months, the child's social worker must present a further report to the Adoption Panel identifying the length of the delay, the reasons and the steps being taken to address any difficulties, including consideration of a review of the adoption plan and/or a possible change to long-term fostering/separation of siblings.|
|12.3||The Adoption Panel may request an earlier progress report on an individual case when first considering the child.|
The outcome of any reviews by the Adoption Panel should be notified to the child (if old enough), the birth parents (in appropriate cases) and any other relevant person.
|12.5||The child's details should be passed to the Adoption in Merseyside (AiM) if no locally identified match is being actively pursued immediately after the decision by the Agency Decision Maker that the child should be placed for adoption, and, in any event, at the latest by 3 months.|
13. Adoptive Placements Abroad
Where an adoptive placement outside the UK appears to be a viable option, and consultation with the child (if old enough) supports this, the proposal must be considered at a child's Looked After Review before becoming part of the child's Care Plan.
The child may be considered for an adoptive placement with known prospective adopters in which case it will be for the adoption agency to satisfy itself that the prospective adopters are suitable to adopt the child. Otherwise, the child may be referred to the Department for Education website for a suitable linking to be identified, (see below).
In either circumstance, the case must be referred to the Adoption Panel in accordance with Section 1, Planning for Permanence of this procedure, seeking a formal recommendation that adoption outside the UK is in the best interests of the child. The Child's Permanence Report must include an assessment of the possibility of placing the child for adoption in the British Isles and consideration of whether adoption of the child by a person in a particular country would be in the best interests of the child.
The Agency Decision Maker must consider the recommendation and decide whether the child should be placed for adoption overseas. The notification to the child (if old enough) and the parents must include an explanation of the placement possibilities in the British Isles and abroad.
Where a decision is made to pursue the option of placement overseas, the child's social worker should consult with Legal Services about the legal process, and seek the approval of Designated Manager (Placement Orders) to an application for a Placement Order.
Where no Prospective Adopters have been identified
Where such a decision is made to place the child overseas, the Adoption Team Manager must notify the Department for Education of the following:
- The child's file reference number;
- The child's name;
- The child's date of birth;
- The gender of the child;
- The reasons why the decision has been made that adoption outside the UK may be suitable for the child;
- The date of any Placement Order.
The Department for Education maintains a list of children waiting for inter country adoption.
If a decision is made after the child's name is placed on the list that an overseas adoptive placement is no longer appropriate, the child's social worker must inform the Department for Education so that the child's details are removed from the list.
Where the Department for Education receive an application from a foreign country, it will check that the prospective adopters have been assessed as eligible and suitable, and that they meet the age requirement of the UK law, and if so, consider whether there are children of the age and gender to match the prospective adopters' approval.
Where there are children on the list who appear, on the face of it, to match the prospective adopters, the Department for Education will send the relevant papers on the prospective adopters to the local authority looking after the child.
Upon receipt of the papers, the child's social worker in conjunction with the Adoption Service will consider whether the prospective adopters would meet the child's needs. Where necessary, additional information should be requested from the overseas authority via the Department for Education.
Where it is decided that the prospective adopters are not suitable, the Department for Education should be notified and the papers returned.
Where it is decided that the prospective adopters are suitable, the Department for Education should be notified and the proposed match referred to the Adoption Panel for consideration in accordance with the usual procedure. Included in the papers to be presented to the Panel must be the report on the prospective adopters by the foreign authority.
The child's social worker must notify the Department for Education of the decision made.
Where the decision is to proceed with the placement, the child's social worker must send the Child's Permanence Report, together with any Placement Order and a recent photograph of the child, to the Department for Education for onward transmission to the overseas authority and the prospective adopters.
Where the prospective adopters decide to go ahead with the placement, they will be required to travel to meet the child.
The matching procedures will then apply as for any other potential placement.
Placement Planning Meetings should be convened in accordance with the usual procedure (see Section 9, Planning the Placement) to plan the prospective adopters' first meeting with the child, introductions and where the placement goes ahead, regular reports should be required from the relevant overseas authority after the placement.
If the prospective adopters still wish to go ahead and the Placement Planning Meeting confirms that the placement meets the child's needs, the child's social worker must inform the Department for Education, who will contact the overseas authority to confirm that they are content for the placement to go ahead and that the child will be permitted to enter and reside permanently. In these circumstances, the Department for Education will enter the necessary agreement with the overseas authority.
The child's social worker can then arrange for the placement to go ahead.
The prospective adopters will need to seek independent legal advice about the need to apply for a Convention Adoption Order in the UK (which will require the child to be with the adopters for at least 6 months prior to the application) or a Section 84 Order from the High Court granting them Parental Responsibility to take the child outside the UK for the purposes of adoption (which will require the child to be with the adopters for at least 10 weeks prior to the application). In either case, the Court will require a social worker's report - see Court Reports in Adoption and Special Guardianship Procedure for a detailed list of the contents.
The prospective adopters will need to arrange for the foreign authority to monitor the placement as required by the Placement Planning Meeting.
Where Prospective Adopters have been identified
It will be for the adoption agency to satisfy itself that the prospective adopters are suitable to adopt the child. The assessment should usually be carried out in the prospective adopters' country and then sent to the adoption agency in the same way as for any other prospective adopter.
The matching procedures will then apply as for any other potential placement.
Placement Planning Meetings should be convened in accordance with the usual placement procedures (see Section 10, Planning the Placement) to plan the prospective adopters' first meeting with the child, introductions and where the placement goes ahead, regular reports should be required from the relevant overseas authority after the placement.
The prospective adopters will need to seek independent legal advice about the need for a Section 84 Application from the High Court granting them parental responsibility to take the child outside the UK for the purposes of adoption (which will require the child to be with the adopters for at least 10 weeks prior to the application). Where such an application is made, the Court will require a social worker's report - see Court Reports in Adoption and Special Guardianship Procedure for a detailed list of the contents.
The child's social worker will need to arrange for the foreign authority to monitor the placement as required by the Placement Planning Meeting.