Fostering for Adoption and Concurrent Planning Placements in Knowsley
AMENDMENTThis chapter was updated in July 2017 and may be subject to review with the introduction of the Regional Adoption Agency, AIM.
Fostering for Adoption and concurrent placements are paths to early permanence for some children. Changes to statutory guidance for adoption and the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 (as amended 2013) ensure that the regulatory mechanisms are in place to allow this to happen. The advantage is that the child can be placed right from the beginning of their time in care and even from birth with a family who have the potential to become their adopters.
These types of placements are to be considered for any child whom the local authority have assessed as being highly unlikely to return to their birth family and it is aimed at children under the age of two years old.
This procedure will set out what is to happen when such a child or children are identified and indeed how those children should be identified.
Fostering for adoption carers will be recruited by Knowsley Borough Council and may also be sought from another local authority provider within the Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) arrangements.
The difference between a concurrent placement and a fostering to adopt placement is primarily in the status and preparation of the carers. Concurrent Carers will be dually approved from the outset as both foster carers and adopters. They will be more prepared for the possible return home of the child placed with them. Given this difference it is likely that concurrent carers could take a child where there is slightly more risk that the child might return home to birth family, for example, in the case of relinquished babies.
Fostering for adoption carers are firstly adopters who can be temporarily approved as foster carers for a specific child (under regulation 25 (A) of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 (as amended in 2013). Children placed with these types of carers are expecting to be able to adopt the child placed with them and although they will be fully aware of the legal uncertainties of that until the finalisation of Care Proceedings, it is likely that only children where there is very little chance of return to birth family would be placed with such carers.
It is therefore essential in considering such placements that comprehensive assessments have taken place and that all potential family options for the child have been considered prior to placement.
It is therefore likely that all such placements will be planned and may include siblings of children already adopted or placed for adoption and may be considered at pre-birth meetings where there are significant concerns about birth families' ability to parent the child.
The possibility of placing a child with Fostering for Adoption carers should be given consideration at a very early stage in the involvement of the local authority with the family.
It is likely to be considered where the family have been previously known to the authority and where significant concerns have previously been identified or alternatively in pre-birth cases where assessed ability to parent is extremely poor.
Once such a case is identified, a meeting should be called to consider the appropriateness of the proposed plan. That meeting should involve the child's social worker, Head of Service Children Looked After, permanence and provision and child protection or placement services who will chair the meeting, adoption team manager, concurrent planning champion, Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) where appropriate and representation from the legal department.
The meeting will consider:
- The prognosis for rehabilitation to birth parents, bearing in mind that this type of placement would only be appropriate if there was very little chance of that happening;
- Whether a Family Group Meeting has taken place and been minuted and all family alternatives have been explored and eliminated as possible long term carers for the child;
- What, if any, further assessments are required in order to make a decision;
- Whether the best placement would be fostering for adoption or a concurrent planning placement.
If the decision is to pursue fostering to adopt then an immediate referral to the adoption team will be made (see procedures below for Section 2.2, Concurrent Planning Placements). A family finder will be allocated.
Birth parents should be notified of the proposal at the earliest opportunity.
Any possible adopters will be identified by the family finder and the PARs shared with the child's social worker. This may be a Knowsley family or a family from another agency.
If there is an appropriate match then the family will be visited by the family finder and the child's social worker in order to discuss the proposed placement. If following this visit the family wish to pursue the placement of the child and the social worker feels they are a good match with the child to be placed then the child's social worker and family finder will complete the matching report and summary report for the agency decision maker.
The Agency Decision Maker will decide whether the placement can go ahead. Once signed agreement is received then the placement of the child can take place in the usual way.
A placement planning meeting should be held prior to placement whilst all the arrangements are made paying particular attention to issues surrounding any proposed Contact.
The legal department and IRO will be made aware of the proposed placement as will the birth parents. It may be appropriate for the birth parents to meet the adopters at this stage as this may be helpful for all parties. It is essential however, that any information shared with the birth family is anonymous in that addresses and surnames MUST remain confidential as must any information that may lead to their identification in the future.
If, at any point during the planning of a Fostering for Adoption placement or if the child is already in such a placement, there is any change to the circumstances of prospective carers, including relatives, a planning meeting with the Fostering for Adoption carers and all professionals involved should take place to consider the new information at the earliest opportunity, so that the carers can make an informed choice about their position. Similarly, this also allows the local authority to consider their position in light of the change in circumstances.
2.2 Concurrent Planning Placements
Concurrent placements will be considered in the same way as Fostering for Adoption placements.
At the point that the decision is taken to pursue concurrent placement rather than fostering for adoption placement then:
- The Adoption team would make a referral to Adoption Matters Northwest to request a placement. This referral should be made as soon as possible so that every chance is given to finding a suitable family;
- The adoption team and child's social worker will receive potential PAR 's for consideration;
- If an appropriate match is found then a matching form and short report as to the reasons why concurrent placement is felt to be appropriate would be presented to the agency decision maker for approval;
- The child can be placed with the carers once the agency decision maker has decided that this is the best plan for the child;
- The placement is then treated in the same way as any other foster placement however, expectations of the concurrent carers with regards to Contact need to be carefully thought through.
2.3 Contact Arrangements
It is essential that contact arrangements are carefully considered for any proposed concurrent or fostering to adopt placement.
A reasoned case must be presented to the court about the value of any proposed contact arrangements given that the child will in all probability not be returning to the family's care and in some cases having never been in their care.
The possible quality of that contact needs to be considered too and levels of contact proposed need to be in line with the local authority plan for the child to be adopted.
Where some contact is proposed then the arrangements for that contact need to be carefully considered. The adopters will need to be involved in discussions about who supervises the contact and who takes the child to contact sessions. If adopters wish to do this themselves then they should be supported to do so but not left alone with birth family members.There is no expectation that concurrent carers or fostering for adoption carers will facilitate contact.