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Greater Manchester SCB Procedures
Greater Manchester SCB Procedures Greater Manchester SCB Procedures

4.1.17 Adoption Planning

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

“Permanence is a framework of emotional, physical and legal conditions that gives a child a sense of security, continuity, commitment and identity”

Legislative and Policy Framework

Adoption and Children Act 2002

Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005  

National Minimum Standards for Adoption 

DfE, Stautory Guidance on Adoption (July 2013)

DfE, The Children Act guidance and regulations – Volume 2: Care Pllanning, Placement and Case Review (2015)

Coram BAAF, Fostering for Adoption – Practice Guidance (2013)

Permanence Planning Policy

Fostering for Adoption, Concurrent Planning and Temporary Approval as Foster Carers of Approved Prospective Adopters Procedure

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in May 2016 to update the chapter – in particular the ‘Legislative and Policy’ section in the Scope Box.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Planning for Adoption
  3. Placement of Siblings
  4. Contact Issues
  5. Counselling the Child
  6. Counselling of Birth Parents
  7. Relinquished Babies
  8. The Adoption and Permanence Panel
  9. Planning for Permanence
  10. Child Permanence Report
  11. Change of Plan
  12. Panel Reviews of the Plan for Adoption
  13. Placement Orders
  14. Permanency/Adoption Medicals
  15. Preparation Prior to Booking the Medical
  16. Booking the Medical
  17. Attending the Medical
  18. Attendance at Panel
  19. How to Book Cases onto Panel
  20. Identifying a Placement
  21. Family Finding
  22. Reviews of Children with a Plan for Adoption
  23. Matching Meetings
  24. Discussions with the Prospective Adoptive Family
  25. Adoption Support
  26. Adoption and Permanence Panel
  27. Planning Introductions
  28. Support of the Placement
  29. First Review
  30. Second and Subsequent Reviews
  31. Inter Agency Placements
  32. Meeting of Birth Parent(s) and Prospective Adopter(s)
  33. Adoption Application
  34. Suitability Report
  35. Adoption Hearing
  36. Notifications of Adoption Order Granted
  37. Adoption Case Records


1. Introduction

For all children it is essential that they are able to make enduring and affirming relationships in the most appropriate placement for them. Decisions regarding children’s permanent placement should be considered at Salford’s Adoption and Permanence Panel or the Fostering Panel.

There are a number of options available in order to secure permanency for children and young people. These include:

  • Returning home to their birth family;
  • Living with a relative or foster carer by virtue of a Child Arrangements Order or Special Guardianship order;
  • Living with foster carers or in residential care and remaining within the looked after system;
  • Adoption.

(Please see Family and Friends Care Policy)

The decision about which panel the child or young person’s plan should be presented to needs to take into account the age of the child and the plan for his or her siblings. Consultation should take place with the Agency Panel Advisor.

Adoption

A child becomes adopted by virtue of the making of an Adoption Order. An adoption order removes Parental Responsibility permanently from the child’s birth parents and from the local authority and gives full responsibility to the adoptive parents. An adopted person is treated in law as if he or she were the birth child of the adopter.


2. Planning for Adoption

This procedure outlines the process to be followed when adoption is considered as the permanency plan for a child. This will include:

  • Counselling of the child and the birth parents;
  • The preparation of documentation for the Adoption and Permanence Panel. See Adoption and Permanence Panel Procedure;
  • The matching and placement of the child with an adoptive family;
  • Post placement support.

Adoption

Adoption is an important means of securing permanence for children. It can offer children who are unable to return to their birth families a legally permanent new family to which they can belong, with the sense of security, and continuity they need to grow into healthy, well functioning adults.

Adoption should be considered as a positive option for all children Looked After who cannot return to their birth parents. This is particularly important for younger children under the age of 10 years.

Placing a child for adoption can involve complex planning and procedural issues and should always be undertaken with close supervision from a team Manager and close liaison with the adoption & Permanence Team.

The recommendation to place a child for adoption should be made as part of an overall plan for the child. This plan would normally be discussed in supervision, confirmed in a formal meeting such as a Care Planning meeting and subsequently ratified at a statutory review, where the views of parents and other significant people, e.g. the current carer, are taken into account. The views of the child, depending upon their age and understanding, must also be taken into account.

Where the plan is for permanence through adoption, long term fostering or Special Guardianship there should be close liaison between the social worker and the Family Placement Team. The Family Placement Team should be invited to the legal or Care Planning meeting in order to contribute expertise about the various options under consideration and offer advice about the prospect of successful placement. This is particularly important when there may be different plans for a sibling group and when contact plans may be more complex.

If it is likely that a court statement is required from the family placement section the team manager should be consulted and proper notice given to allow time for a report to be completed, i.e. not less than 14 working days. Early involvement will also enable the Family Placement Team to understand the child's needs and give consideration to suitable prospective adoptive parents or long-term foster carers at the earliest opportunity.

The plan for adoption should be endorsed by the relevant Senior Team Manager or Head of Service.

In accordance with Adoption and Children Act 2002, all children for whom adoption is the plan should be considered at the Adoption and Permanence Panel prior to the final Care Plan is submitted to the court. The panel date will be part of the decision made at the Case Management Conference when proceedings are timetabled.


3. Placement of Siblings

In making plans for the child, his/her position in relation to other members of the birth family should be taken into account, particularly relationships with any brothers or sisters. For many children it will be in the interests of brothers and sisters to be placed together. However, it is not uncommon for there to be conflicting needs for children particularly when they are part of large sibling groups. It is important that careful consideration is given to the long term needs of each individual child.

Decisions about placement of siblings and future contact can be very complex and will frequently be one of the main issues discussed in the court proceedings. It is important that full discussions take place with family placement team as they may be required to family find and also give evidence in court on this issue.

A plan to place brothers and sisters separately should be based on clear, written assessments and be incorporated into the reports presented to the Adoption and Permanence Panel.


4. Contact Issues

There are many issues to take into account when determining any future contact plans. Children being placed for adoption often have many complex needs which need to be considered. It is important to take into account the changing contact needs of a child once he or she is in a permanent placement. Careful thought needs to be given to the longer term implications for the child and the adoptive or permanent family when making contact plans. Family placement section is able to provide advice and training materials on contact. There are guidance notes available for social workers in relation to establishing post adoption contact.

In formulating an adoption plan, consideration should be given to the nature and form of contact between the child and members of his/her birth family after adoption, particularly if another child or children remain with a member of the birth family.

Contact can take a variety of forms, from the annual exchange of information through the agency to face-to-face contact. A decision to terminate face-to-face contact may be made as part of the care proceedings. Decisions regarding contact must be based on a clear assessment of the child's needs and the attitudes of birth families.


5. Counselling the Child

The Adoption Agency Regulations (2005) (Regulation 13) require that where adoption is being considered the social worker must ensure that the views of the child are known, depending on his/her age and understanding and that counselling should be offered.

A child will need opportunities to explore his/her anxieties about moving to an adoptive family and, as far as possible, to understand what adoption means. He/she will need reassurance and information about their birth family, which will help them move to their new family. The style and method of preparing a child for adoption will be determined by their age and understanding, but thorough preparation will be fundamentally important to a successful adoption placement. Advice and support is available from the family placement team or through SAFSS.

Foster Carers will have an important role in this work, and social workers alongside the carer’s family placement worker, should plan with the carer how it will be done.

The Children’s Guide and other relevant books should be used in preparing the child.


6. Counselling of Birth Parents

The Adoption and Children Act 2011 requires that where an adoption plan is being considered, counselling must be offered to the child's birth parents.

Birth parents should be offered counselling by someone who has not been involved in the decision making process. This is particularly important for parents who wish to be involved in the letter box contact scheme. Salford has commissioned an independent counselling service for birth family members. The service is for adults and is open to birth parents and other close relatives who may be affected by the child being placed for adoption including grandparents.

In all cases where an adoption plan is being considered the child's social worker should make a referral for counselling via the Adoption Team. The referral should be made on form BP1 and passed to the Post Adoption Support Worker, based at the Adoption Team.

Given the acrimonious nature of court proceedings many birth parents do not wish to engage with counselling at least until a final decision is made about their child’s future. Nevertheless it is important that they are made aware of the availability of counselling and the help it may give them in understanding the implications of the plans under consideration.

An information leaflet about the counselling service will be sent to birth parents following the child being presented to Adoption and Permanence Panel for the SHOBA decision.

When a child is presented at panel for formal linking a further letter from the agency will be sent to birth parents to remind them of the counselling service.

When the Adoption Order is granted a letter will be sent to birth parents encouraging them to access counselling if they wish.

The purpose of counselling is to ensure that parents fully understand what adoption means and to give them an opportunity to deal with the emotional impact adoption may have:

  • Counselling should address;
  • Birth parents wishes and feelings about the child and their sense of loss;
  • Legal implications of adoption including Parental Responsibility and Contact;
  • Procedure for placement.

Birth parents will need to be encouraged to provide as much background information to include in the Child Permanence Report (CPR). They need to understand that the information is for the child and will be used to help matching to a suitable family and help in dealing with identity issues in the longer term.


7. Relinquished Babies

Salford, alongside colleagues in adopt north west and CAFCASS have produced a procedure for the placement of relinquished babies.

There are occasions when a birth parent may request that her/his child be placed for adoption. The Adoption Agencies Regulations require that counselling is offered to parents that are considering relinquishing their child. These cases should always be referred to the Adoption Team who will undertake this counselling.

On occasions this will take place prior to the child’s birth and, if, when born, adoption is still requested then the child will be accommodated in foster care. A request will be made by the adoption worker to the DAT team to allocate a social worker to carry out the statutory duties in respect of the child, including the completion of the LAC documentation.

Cases involving relinquished babies may not meet the Directorate’s threshold for obtaining a social work service or for a child to be accommodated. However, there is an overriding legal entitlement for a mother/parent to relinquish a baby for adoption after counselling and adoption agencies are obliged to offer a service in this situation.

The allocated adoption social worker will be responsible for completion of the CPR on the child however it is likely that there will be close working between the child’s social worker and the adoption social worker.

The adoption worker will be responsible for listing the matter to be considered at Adoption & Permanence Panel and keeping the birth parent informed of any recommendations and Agency Decisions. The adoption worker should also inform CAFCASS who will arrange for the appropriate consents to be witnessed.

Ensuring a child’s safety is paramount. Should the birth parent change her/their minds about placing the child for adoption or suggest that the child might be placed elsewhere, consultation should take place with the Team Managers, Adoption and DAT or LAC Team so that a decision can be made regarding the necessity to undertake an assessment to ensure that the child is adequately safeguarded. Such assessments will be undertaken jointly between the adoption worker and allocated social worker. A legal planning meeting may be required and a decision made about instigating any legal procedures. Whilst counselling and support will be offered to a birth parent the needs of the child must always remain paramount.


8. The Adoption and Permanence Panel

The Adoption and Children Act 2002 require that all local authorities establish an Adoption and Permanence Panel. The panel is an independent body, chaired by someone who is not connected to the local authority or the agency. The panel is constituted from a diverse group of people with a range of experience and expertise in adoption and permanency planning. The panel is therefore able provide both scrutiny and validation of the work undertaken by the Department.

The Adoption and Permanence Panel has 3 main functions in relation to children and families. It must consider:

  • The case of every child referred to it by the adoption agency and makes a recommendation to the agency as to whether the child should be placed for adoption (SHOBA);
  • It must also consider and give advice to the agency about:
    • The arrangements which the agency proposes to make for allowing any person contact with the child;
    • Where the agency is a local authority, whether an application should be made for a Placement Order;
    • The case of the prospective adopter referred to it and makes a recommendation to the agency as to whether the prospective adopter is suitable to adopt a child;
    • It may also consider and give advice about the number of children the prospective adopter may be suitable to adopt, their age range, sex, likely needs and background;
    • The proposed placement referred to it and makes a recommendation to the agency as to whether the child should be placed for adoption with that particular prospective adopter.

It must also consider and may give advice to the agency about:

  • The authority’s proposal for the provision of adoption support services for the adoptive family;
  • The arrangement the adoption agency proposes to make for allowing any contact with the child; and
  • Whether Parental Responsibility of any parent or guardian or the prospective adopter should be restricted and, if so, the extent of any such restriction.

Salford Adoption & Permanence Panel also considers:

  • Consideration of all children under 10 and sibling groups where at least one child is under 10 years where the plan is for long term fostering, placement for Special Guardianship or Child Arrangements Order;

  • Approval of carers for long term fostering of Special Guardianship or Child Arrangements Order;

  • Matches in respect of long term fostering or Special Guardian or Child Arrangements Order;
  • Payment of allowances in respect of above.


9. Planning for Permanence

Within 2 months of the decision being ratified in a statutory review that adoption is the plan the child’s social worker will prepare BAAF Form CPR for presenting the child at the Adoption and Permanence Panel. The child must have been considered by the Adoption and Permanence Panel and have the agency decision confirmed prior to the submission of the final care plan to the court.

The Adoption Agencies Regulations stipulates that social workers involved in making adoption plans have relevant experience and qualifications. These are that they have at least 3 years post qualifying work in child care, including experience of adoption. If a worker does not have this experience they will need to be managed by a person with suitable qualifications.

If a worker does not have the relevant qualifications then it will be necessary for the manager or supervisor to sign any completed document such as the CPR and they must attend panel with the social worker.

It is important for social workers to be aware of the importance of securing permanent placements for children. There is research evidence and information available through BAFF publications and the CoramBAAF website. Family placement section is able to offer guidance on up to date research on permanence issues.


10. Child Permanence Report

The BAAF CPR is a comprehensive document, covering all aspects of a child's background and family history, including the reasons why he/she cannot live with his/her family, his/her health, and social, emotional and educational development, the planning and decision making process that has been followed and the future plans for the child.

Social workers should remember that the CPR serves several purposes:

It provides the information that allows the Adoption and Permanence Panel to consider whether a child should be placed for adoption. It should therefore provide full details of the process that has led to the decision to place the child for adoption including the evidence to be presented to the court to support the Care Order, the efforts made to maintain or reunite the child with the birth family, and the assessments that have taken place and their outcome. It should contain a summary of information made available by other professionals such as psychological assessments of the birth family. It should have information from the child’s foster carer about the placement.

It provides information for use in the process of matching a child with a prospective adoptive family and to discuss a possible placement with the family identified.

It serves as the main document to provide information for the adopters about the child and his/her history.

It is the main source of information for the child as he/she grows up. The information in the CPR will make a major contribution to the child’s sense of identity and care should be taken to ensure that it contains sufficient and appropriate explanation to answer the child’s queries about the reasons for adoption.

It is important to ensure that the CPR contains complete, accurate, well-presented information and is written in a style that reflects these various purposes. It is a “living document” and it will be necessary to regularly update the information when a child is being considered at a matching meeting or being reviewed at the Adoption and Permanence panel. It should be checked carefully for errors, including typographical errors, and all relevant sections should be completed. The CPR itself contains detailed notes of guidance as to how the form should be completed and these should be carefully followed. The CPR is an important and complex document and the social worker should seek advice from the Adoption Team if advice is required.

The CPR should be forwarded to the Senior Panel Administrator at Family Placement Section at least 10 working days before the Adoption and Permanence Panel. A schedule of Adoption and Permanence Panel deadlines is circulated annually and a reminder is sent to the Children’s Social work Teams by e-mail in advance of each panel.

Having considered each matter, the Adoption and Permanence Panel will make a recommendation to the Head of Service, LAC, who is the Agency Decision Maker.

Where the recommendations of the Panel have been approved by the Head of Service, LAC all parties will be informed in writing.

Following presentation at Adoption and Permanence panel it is important that social workers read panel minutes and note any comments from the Agency Decision Maker. The minutes are frequently presented to court during proceedings and social workers need to feel satisfied that they are familiar with the content before attendance in court.


11. Change of Plan

Where a recommendation has been made that a child should be placed for adoption, any subsequent change of plan must be brought back before the Panel for consideration and agreed by the agency decision maker. This includes cases where the court has not agreed the Agency Care Plan.


12. Panel Reviews of the Plan for Adoption

Where a suitable placement has not been identified within 6 months of the plan for adoption being agreed, the case will be reviewed by the Adoption and Permanence Panel. Further reviews will take place at least 6 monthly intervals until the child is placed, or more frequently if requested by the panel. The panel will consider the continuing appropriateness of the adoption plan for the child in the light of the time that has elapsed and the efforts that have been made to find a family.

The CPR will need to be updated for each review to take account of the child’s development and changing needs and any changes there have been in the birth family circumstances. Successful family finding can only be carried out based on up to date information and it may be necessary to send the CPR for consideration by other agencies. Where there are substantial changes it will be necessary for the CPR to be rewritten.

Social workers will be reminded in advance by the Panel Administrator when the panel review is due and will be required to attend the panel. It may be appropriate for the Senior Practitioner Recruitment Worker to attend panel when a child is being review.


13. Placement Orders

A Placement Order is a court order authorising a local authority to place a child for adoption with any prospective adopters it chooses. A child cannot be placed for adoption without a placement order or written consent from birth parents if the child is relinquished.

An application for a placement order will usually be made during the care proceedings and can only be made if the Adoption & Permanence Panel have recommended that one should be applied for.


14. Permanency/Adoption Medicals

In all cases where adoption, long-term fostering or Special Guardianship is being considered as the plan for the child, the Adoption Agencies Regulations stipulates that a child should have an adoption or permanency medical.

Adoption and Permanency medicals are undertaken by the Agency Medical Adviser, Dr K Edynbry, Community Paediatrician, at Swinton Health Clinic, Partington Lane, Swinton.

In preparation for this medical health information, including a neo-natal report and full health history of the child and an obstetric report on birth mother and health information about the child’s family should be obtained. This information should be obtained by using the appropriate BAAF forms.


15. Preparation Prior to Booking the Medical

The BAAF “Consent Form” and form PH (report on health of birth parents) should be completed at, or as near to the child’s admission to care. In addition BAAF forms M (obstetric report on mother) and form B (neo-natal report on child), should be sent following the second statutory review where a plan for permanence has been identified.


16. Booking the Medical

An adoption/permanency medical should be requested via email by completing request form HAP and BAAF form IHA/C (initial health assessment for child aged birth to 9 years), and sent to Cath Maree, L.A.C. administrator, at Eccles Health Centre.

A medical should be requested no less than two months prior to the likely date that the Adoption and Permanence Panel will meet to consider whether the child should be placed for adoption.

A date and time will be given to the child’s social worker and this appointment will be confirmed in an appointment letter.


17. Attending the Medical

The social worker should attend the medical, with the child’s present carer(s) and child. On completion they will be given the completed form I.H.A./C to be kept on the child’s adoption file. Information from this medical will be used in completing the child’s Permanence Report for Panel.

  1. The social worker should take to the medical:
    1. The completed BAAF Forms MB and B2 or B3;
    2. A blank BAAF Form C for a child under 5 years of age or Form D for a child over 5 years of age;
    3. The relevant completed Annexe form;
    4. The completed Form A where available;
    5. The background information required in Form C or D i.e. family history of parents, list of placements and care-givers, list of nurseries and schools attended and any other relevant specialist reports.
  2. All relevant forms are standard BAAF forms and are held on the Children Social Work Teams or can be obtained from the Family Placement Section, Turnpike House;
  3. The Medical Advisor will complete the medical examination and will then return the forms to the social worker. All reports obtained as part of the medical examination should be placed on the child's adoption file.


18. Attendance at Panel

The social worker who prepared the CPR and who has responsibility for the child should attend the Adoption and Permanence Panel. The Team Manager or Senior Practitioner should also attend if required and must attend if the social worker does not have 3 years relevant post qualifying experience.


19. How to Book Cases onto Panel

This should be done through the Senior Panel Administrator at least 3 weeks prior to the Panel date.


20. Identifying a Placement

Every effort should be made to avoid delay in identifying a suitable placement for a child.

It is the responsibility of the Team Manager, Adoption, to identify suitable families and convene a matching meeting.

Social Workers should inform the Team Manager, Adoption immediately a Placement order is granted.

Families can be made available through Salford’s approved and waiting adopters or adopt north west a Voluntary Adoption Agency or another Local Authority.

In most situations a matching meeting will be held after the courts have granted a Placement Order. However for some children in order to avoid unnecessary delay a matching meeting may be held before the final court hearing. An approach cannot be made to a prospective adopter prior to a Placement Order being granted or with permission of the court when there may be a sibling of an adopted child requiring a placement.

Final contact with birth family needs to have taken place some time before introductions to a new family begins. If this has not happened before matching then some time may be required between matching and introductions to the adoptive family.


21. Family Finding

Consideration of the timing of the family finding process will take place at Panel when SHOPA is recommended. Panel may recommend that they is a delay in starting this process. However once this process has begun is will be the responsibility of the Team Manager, Adoption to ensure that efforts to secure a placement are made as quickly as possible.

Should there be no families available through Salford’s approved adopters or adopt north west a family finding meeting will be organised. This will usually be chaired by the Senior Practitioner, Adoption Recruitment and Family Finding. This meeting will draw up a plan of action and agree a timescale for family finding. Options to be considered include:

  • A profile of the child, video and/ or photographs can be shown at adoption open evenings and preparation groups. Should a potential family be identified during the open meeting or preparation groups the social worker will be invited to visit the family with the Family Finding worker to establish the viability of the family for the particular child. Priority will then be given to completing the assessment as quickly as possible;
  • Family finding searches can be made through adopt north west and the National Adoption Register;
  • The child may be featured in national family finding publications such as “Be My Parent” and “Adoption UK”. A child cannot be featured in this way unless a Placement Order has been granted or the Court has given permission;
  • Other forms of advertising may be considered and discussed at the Family finding meetings.


22. Reviews of Children with a Plan for Adoption

The Adoption Agencies Regulations 36.1 requires that where a child has yet to be placed for adoption the IRO should review the plan:

  • Not more than 3 months after the date on which the agency first had authority to place i.e. the date of the Placement Order;
  • Not more than 6 months after the date of the first review.


23. Matching Meetings

Following discussion between the child’s social worker and the adoption team manager, the Child Permanence Report in respect of the child and the PAR, in respect of the adopters should be exchanged. It is essential that the CPR is up to date and contains relevant information. Prospective adopters cannot be approached until this completed. The Team Manager is responsible for ensuring that the respective Family Placement Worker(s) and Social Worker read the necessary forms and a decision is then made regarding the appropriateness of putting a family forward for a Matching Meeting.

The prompt convening of a Matching Meeting is the responsibility of the Team Manager, Adoption.

The Family Placement Workers for the adoptive families should attend, together with the child’s Social Worker and any other person who, it is felt, can make a valuable contribution to the matching process such as a residential worker or foster carer, the foster carer’s family placement worker or a member of the SAFSS team. The Chair of the meeting will be a Team Manager, Adoption or a Senior Practitioner, Adoption.

The meeting should make a recommendation regarding the most appropriate choice of family. The reasons for this choice and any other recommendation should be recorded by the Chair on the agreed Matching Meeting Form.

The meeting should also consider the prospective adopters and the child’s needs for post placement and post adoption support. This may take the form of services or financial support such as a regular adoption allowance, a one off payment or a settling in grant.

The meeting will also consider the timing of linking at Panel and introductions.

All other recommendations made at this meeting must be met prior to linking at panel.


24. Discussions with the Prospective Adoptive Family

Following selection at matching, adopters should be visited by their Adoption Worker who will provide them with information regarding the child and discuss any issues that have arisen at the matching meeting, including the child’s needs, contact, post adoption support, including the payment of an allowance and outline all the steps that need to be taken prior to formal linking. The Child’s Permanence Report should be left with the adopters. Adoption Workers should ensure that adopters understand the confidential nature of this information and obtain their written agreement to the return of all documents relating to the child if they do not proceed with the placement.

Should adopters wish to proceed, arrangements should be made for a joint visit by the Adoption Worker and Social Worker in order that the latter can provide more detailed information about the child, their background and discuss how the adopters plan to meet the child’s needs. Social Workers should also provide other written information such as reports by psychologists, psychiatrists, Children's Guardian, with the prior consent of the court.

Arrangements should then be made for adopters to meet other professionals that can contribute to their knowledge of the child’s needs such as the agency medical advisor, school or nursery, and specialist workers such as SAFSS.

Arrangements can then be made for adopters to meet the child’s foster carers. These meetings will usually take place at the adopter’s home but care should be taken to ensure that the child is not seen. The Adoption Worker and/or Social Worker should be present.

The adopters should be visited as many times as they request or as often as the workers feel is necessary to ensure that they have been given the fullest information possible regarding the child and his/her present and future needs. This should include discussion regarding their need for post placement and post adoption support, proposed contact arrangements and the exercise of parental responsibility by adopters. The views of the adopters following these discussions must be recorded in the Adoption Placement Report.

The prospective adopters should complete their part of the APR. If they prefer the child’s Social Worker or their Adoption Worker can complete it with them. Adopters have ten days, if they so choose, to consider and sign this report before it is submitted to Panel. Workers will need to bear this in mind when timetabling Panel. If the adopters live outside Salford their Adoption Worker will need to liaise with the ASSA for the Local Authority in which the adopters live before completing the Post Adoption Support Plan. Should the placement be a sibling group each child should have his or her own APR and ASP.

If all parties are wishing to proceed then arrangements should be made for the matter to be heard at the next available meeting of Salford’s Adoption and Permanence Panel.

Documents required for panel are:

  • The Child’s Permanence Report;
  • PAR;
  • Matching meeting minutes;
  • Previous panel minutes, including panel minutes relating to the approval of the adopters and the child;
  • Adoption Placement Report;
  • Parental Responsibility Form;
  • Adoption Support Plan.


25. Adoption Support

It is the responsibility of the agencies who are involved with both the child and prospective adopters to provide on going support to the adoption placement. The placing authority holds responsibility for provision of support for 3 years following the date of the adoption order. After this date the local authority where the child resides assumes responsibility.

There should be consultation with the relevant local authority when a proposed placement is being made. This is to ensure that prospective adopters are aware of support provision in their area and the local authority is made aware of children moving into the area may need support in the longer term. It will normally be the responsibility of the family placement worker to contact the ASSA.

Adoption Support Plans should be reviewed at the statutory reviews until the child is adopted. There is a requirement to review the support plan annually up to the 3 years after the order is made.

Financial responsibility remains with the placing authority.

(See Adoption Support Procedure.)


26. Adoption and Permanence Panel

The child’s social worker and the prospective adopter’s social worker should attend panel.

It is important to ensure that all the recommendations from the matching meeting have been adhered to.

Adoption and Permanence Panel make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker. A decision should be made within seven working days.

Information about the prospective adopters cannot be shared with the child until the agency decision has been made. Careful thought and planning needs to be given as to how and when the child will be prepared for meeting the new family as children should not have to wait a long time before seeing the adopters pen picture, meeting the adopters and beginning introductions.

A Matching Certificate cannot be given to prospective adopters until Agency Decision has been made. This can be signed by a Team Manager.


27. Planning Introductions

Following the agreement of the Agency’s Decision Maker regarding the Panel’s recommendation for linking an Introductions Meeting should be arranged through discussion with the adoption worker for the potential adopters. If it is an inter agency placement the agencies can meet prior to or after this meeting to draw up the agreement using BAAF H1.

The planning of introductions for a child to a prospective adoptive family is an important process that should not be rushed. The relationship being built between the child and the family is intended to be lifelong and time spent at this stage may reduce the likelihood of difficulties in the future.

Adopters need to have given up work or have a planned a period of leave. Foster carers need to make themselves available as far as possible during this time. Very careful consideration needs to be given as to how the child is to be informed of the proposed placement, and how this is done will vary according to the age and understanding of the child. Foster carers and adopters should be encouraged to read the relevant sections in the BAAF book "Helping Children When They Must Move" by Vera Fahlberg in order to help them prepare for this meeting.

This meeting will usually take place at Turnpike House or another agreed venue and will be attended by the social worker, the prospective adopter(s) and their worker, foster carer and their family placement worker. In some instances other workers involved in caring for or working with the child and prospective carers will also be invited.

The meeting will always be chaired by a Team Manager, Adoption or Senior Practitioner, Adoption.

It may be appropriate for the adopters to meet with the child prior to the meeting. Consultation with the team manager responsible for chairing the introductions should take place before this happens.

The Adoption Placement Plan should be completed at this meeting. Preparation of the Adoption Placement Plan should take place before the meeting.

It is usual practice to review the introductions half way through the process. A “day off” may be planned and all involved should be aware of this before the meeting. It is also important to allow time for the foster family to say goodbye properly during the introduction period. The introductions should be closely monitored by the worker for the adopter, worker for the foster carer and child’s social worker. Any concerns should be shared with the Team Manager responsible for the introductions.

The child’s social worker may need to visit the child in the home of the prospective adopters during the introductions, particularly if the placement is of an older child. The workers for both the foster carers and adopters should ensure they keep in contact during this period. Where possible the adopters’ family placement worker should visit them on the “day off” in order to ensure that they are feeling comfortable with the process.

At the Review Meeting the placement plan should confirm contact arrangements with the birth family. A follow up visit from the foster carers should also be planned for after the child moves.

Adopters will need to sign an agreement that they are willing to proceed with the placement. They will be given a copy of the APP.

Any concerns arising from the introductions should be reported to the Chair or the Team Manager, Adoption.

Moving Day will be agreed at the review meeting. It may be appropriate for the child’s social worker or the foster carer’s family placement social worker to be present when a child moves. This will be discussed at the introductions meeting.

The child’s move should be recorded on Care First by the social worker as “placed for adoption”. No information regarding the adopter should be recorded as their surname and address should remain strictly confidential.

The completed APP should be given to the social worker for the child’s file.

A copy should be given to the appropriate clerical officer, Adoption Team in order that the necessary notification of placement letters can be sent out. The APP should then be placed on the adopters file.


28. Support of the Placement

The early days in any new placement can be an emotionally and physically demanding period. For that reason the Adoption and Children Act 2002 require regular visits to children and their prospective adoptive parents. These are:

  • The child and prospective adopter should be visited within one week of placement. This visit is usually undertaken by the child’s social worker;
  • Weekly visits should be undertaken until the first review. These can be shared between the child’s social worker and the adoption social worker. There should be clarity from the outset about which social worker will conduct each visit. When the adoption social worker undertakes the visit this should be recorded on a Statutory Visit form and sent to the child’s social worker. A record of the visit should be recorded separately for the adopter’s file. All records of visits should be shared between workers;
  • The frequency of continued visiting should be agreed and recorded at the first and subsequent reviews;
  • As part of the visit, the visiting social worker should see the child without the prospective adopter being present. The child’s age and relationship with the visiting worker needs to be taken into consideration and a “common sense” approach taken to seeing a young child on their own so soon into a new placement. When a child has not be seen on its own this should be documented on the visiting report;
  • These regulations apply to all adoption placements, including foster carers who have been approved to adopt.


29. First Review

Whilst the regulations do not stipulate the frequency of visits following the first review, it is considered appropriate for a minimum of monthly visits from both the child’s social worker and family placement worker to continue up until the second review.

The child’s social worker will be responsible for all statutory visits following the first review.

Ideally the visits should be coordinated to follow a fortnightly visiting pattern; however, this may not be practical. More frequent visits may be required particularly when an older child has been placed and this should be discussed at the review.

Both social workers should write reports of their visits and share with the other worker.

Issues to be considered at Reviews are:

  • That the agency feels satisfied that the child should continue to be placed for adoption;
  • The child’s needs welfare and development, including education and health needs;
  • Existing arrangements for contact and if they should continue;
  • Arrangements in relation to PR and whether they should continue or be altered;
  • The completed Adoption Support Plan and PR form should be brought to the review. This will have been completed at the Adoption Placement Planning Meeting (introductions meeting) and signed by the prospective adopters;
  • Arrangements for the provision of adoption support services and whether there should be any reassessment of the need;
  • Existing arrangements for contact and if they should continue;
  • Dates for completion of life story work and later life letter.

A further review must take place not more than 3 months after the first review.

Subsequent reviews must take place not more than 6 moths after the previous review.


30. Second and Subsequent Reviews

A decision will be made at each review about the frequency of visiting the placement. There needs to be clarity about the frequency of visiting and this should be recorded on the review document. Communication between workers is important and the sharing of visiting reports should continue.


31. Inter Agency Placements

Where a child has been placed in an inter agency placement, the team manager responsible for the linking should be consulted about inviting a family placement worker from Salford’s family placement team to the first review. Copies of the visit reports and reviews should be sent to the adoption team manager responsible for the placement. Any concerns or difficulties within the placement should be referred to the adoption manager at the earliest opportunity.


32. Meeting of Birth Parent(s) and Prospective Adopter(s)

Birth parents and prospective adopters can both benefit from an opportunity to meet. A meeting can help to dispel myths about one another and allay anxieties. The birth parent may gain reassurance about the people looking after their child, share their views about the adoption and convey personal messages to the adopters for the child as he/she grows up. The adopters can gain first hand information about the child and the birth family to relay to the child in later discussions about the circumstances of the adoption and their family background. A face-to-face meeting is also a good basis for successful future indirect contact.

Such meetings should normally take place after a child has been placed and when the placement is felt to be settled.

The worker for the prospective adopter will normally arrange the meeting alongside the social worker for the birth family. It should be planned carefully, allowing birth parent(s) and adopter(s) opportunity to explore its purpose and consider the things they may wish to say. This will help all parties deal with the anxieties they will inevitably experience.

In addition to the birth parent/s or birth relative and adoptive parents the meeting will be attended by the workers for the parties and, on occasions it may be helpful to include the independent worker from Caritas Salford who has counselled the birth parent. The professionals involved need to consult with and be sensitive to the needs of the birth family and adopter and thorough discussion and planning beforehand is vital.


33. Adoption Application

An application for an adoption order should be made when the adoptive family, the child (depending on his/her age and understanding) and all the workers consider that sufficient time has elapsed to allow all the parties to make that final commitment.

This decision should be discussed at a review meeting involving the family, social worker and adoption worker.

Any necessary updates on the Adoption Support Plan need to be addressed. These include post adoption contact, SAFSS involvement, educational, health and financial issues.

Prospective adopters will be required to lodge an application to adopt at the court where the initial care proceedings took place. The local authority will pay for the costs of the adoption application. The adoption worker should send placement details to the Team Manager, Adoption who will agree it and forward the agreement to the Finance section. This will then be paid to the prospective adopters.


34. Suitability Report

The social worker and family placement worker are required to present a suitability report to the court detailing the actions of the agency and making a recommendation that the child should be adopted. The schedule of this report is available from the Family and Community Law Team.

The social worker and adoption worker will be notified of the date by which the suitability report should be provided to the court. The adoption worker should be asked to complete the section on the prospective adoptive parents and the child’s social worker will complete the details on the child.


35. Adoption Hearing

The court will set the date for the adoption hearing. The birth parents are invited to attend court. Under normal circumstances the social workers are not required to attend this hearing. The adoption order will usually be made on this date.

Following this hearing the court will set a date for the Adoption Ceremony.

The social worker and family placement worker will be required to attend at Court on the day of the ceremony along with the prospective adopter and the child.

When an Adoption Order is made the social worker should complete a children’s update document advising the change in legal status. The adoption social worker should notify Senior Admin officer adoption about the adoption order.


36. Notifications of Adoption Order Granted

The relevant administration officer, Adoption Team will also arrange for a letter to be sent to the relevant agencies confirming that an adoption order has been made.

The child's adoption file and child care file should be forwarded to the Adoption Team, Turnpike House, where the appropriate administration will be completed and the file kept for 100 years.


37. Adoption Case Records

In all cases where an adoption plan has been confirmed an adoption case record for each individual child must be set up by the social work team. The intention is to provide the adopted person with as much information as possible about his/her social and personal history and the reason for the adoption. The file should contain:

  • Statutory Review Report where it was decided by professionals that the plan for the child is adoption;
  • Adoption Medical Report;
  • Medical Information on birth parents and siblings;
  • Child Permanence Report;
  • SHOBA Adoption and Permanence Panel Minutes;
  • Record of Agency Decision - SHOBA (Relevant Letters supplied by Panel Manager);
  • Letters to Birth parents;
  • Section 19 Consent to Placement Form;
  • Section 20 Consent to Adoption Order;
  • Any notice withdrawing consent to Section 19 or 20;
  • Details of counselling offered to the child or birth parents;
  • Copy of the Placement Order;
  • Adopt north west referral form;
  • Adoption Register form;
  • Statutory Review records since adoption was identified as the care plan;
  • All correspondence to and from birth family members.

Matching & Linking

  • Information about actions taken to find suitable adopters for the child;
  • Matching meeting minutes;
  • Adoption Placement Report;
  • Adoption Support Plan;
  • Adoption Placement Plan;
  • Parental Responsibility Document;
  • BAAF H1 if inter agency placement;
  • Linking Adoption and Permanence Panel Minutes;
  • Record of Agency Decision - Linking;
  • Letters to birth parents.

Placement

  • E-movement carefirst;
  • Statutory Notification of Placement Letters;
  • GP, Local authority, Health, Education;
  • Birth Parents;
  • Suitability Report;
  • Records of social work visits to the child in the adoption placement;
  • All correspondence to and from birth family members;
  • Later Life Letter from the social worker explaining how and why adoption became the plan for the child;
  • Copy of full birth certificate.

Adoption Granted

  • E-movement carefirst;
  • Copy of Adoption Order;
  • Statutory Notification of Adoption Letters (undertaken by Panel Manager);
  • Copies of photographs, certificates and personal mementos. Originals should be passed to the adoptive family.

Click here to view 'Criteria for Adoption and Permanence Panel' flowchart

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