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

4.1.10 Allegations Against Prospective Adopters

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Scope
  3. Section 1: Allegations Procedure
  4. Section 2: Procedures for Responding to Allegations in Respect of Children Receiving Adoption Support Services
  5. Section 3: Procedures for Responding to Concerns and/or Allegations about Prospective Adopters Awaiting Placement
  6. Section 4: Historical Abuse

    Appendix 1: Outline Flowchart


1. Introduction

Children can be subjected to abuse by those who work with them and care for them in a variety of settings. There have been several high profile cases of children placed for adoption and adopted where abuse has occurred and the response from statutory services has not been effective in safeguarding their welfare.

All children are entitled to the same level and standard of protection from harm including those receiving adoption services. For this reason, enquiries and investigations relating to children in adoptive placements must be dealt with under the principles, policies and procedures laid down by Salford Safeguarding Children Board's Inter Agency Child Protection Procedures for Safeguarding Children or, in relation to children placed outside the City, in accordance with the principles, policies and procedures of the relevant Local Safeguarding Children Board.

The Local Authority Adoption Service (England) Regulations 2003 and the Amendment Regulations (2005) clearly indicate that:

  1. Each Local Authority shall prepare and implement a written policy which:
    1. Is intended to safeguard from abuse or neglect children receiving adoption support services from or placed for adoption by the authority; and
    2. Sets out the procedure to be followed in the event of any allegation of abuse or neglect.
  2. The procedure under paragraph (1ii) shall provide in particular for:
    1. Where the child is placed with prospective adopters in the area of another local authority, the prompt referral to that authority of any allegation of abuse or neglect;
    2. Written records to be kept of any allegation of abuse or neglect and the action taken in response;
    3. Consideration to be given to the measures that may be necessary to protect children placed with prospective adopters following an allegation of abuse or neglect;
    4. Arrangements to be made for persons working with the adoption service, prospective adopters and children who have been placed for adoption by the authority and any person to whom the authority provides adoption support services, to have access to information that would enable them to contact the Commission (now OFSTED), regarding any concern about child welfare and safety.

Adoption Services need to have clear processes for dealing with allegations of abuse.

These procedures should be read in conjunction with Salford Safeguarding Children Board Procedures, specifically the section on managing individual cases, and those for Managing Allegations against Workers, Carers and Volunteers who may have contact with children (available from Salford City Council website) This latter procedure provides the over-arching approach to managing all allegations against workers and carers, and individual agencies are expected to provide procedures that incorporate these directly to the services for which they have direct and commissioned responsibility.


2. Scope

These procedures are intended to safeguard from abuse and neglect children placed for adoption by Salford City Council and children receiving adoption support where it is believed that the prospective adopter or adopter may have:

  • Behaved in a way that has harmed a child or may have harmed a child;
  • Possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child;
  • Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates s/he is unsuitable to care for a child;
  • Section 1 sets out procedures for the management of enquiries and investigations into allegations that a child placed for adoption has suffered, or is at risk of suffering, significant harm due to the actions or in-actions of a prospective adopter or member of their household;
  • Section 2 outlines procedures for responding to concerns or allegations in respect of children receiving adoption support services;
  • Section 3 sets out procedures for responding to concerns and/or allegations about prospective adopters awaiting placement;
  • Section 4 refers to managing allegations of historical abuse.

For allegations in respect of children placed for adoption where the allegation is not against the prospective adopter or a member of their household, Salford Safeguarding Children Board Procedures should be followed and the child's social worker and the adoption social worker should be fully engaged in the enquiries/investigation.

The Allegations Procedure outlined below applies in the event of any allegation where a child is placed for adoption where:

  • The prospective adopter is approved by Salford City Council; and
  • For all prospective adopters living in Salford including those approved by other adoption agencies, where children are placed for adoption.

Any allegation that a child placed with prospective adopters in Salford has suffered, or is at risk of, suffering Significant Harm at the hands of their carers or where there are concerns about the adopters' suitability will be referred to Salford Children's Services Directorate and dealt with in accordance with the procedure below. This procedure is consistent with the requirements within Salford Safeguarding Children's Board Safeguarding procedures.

In those circumstances where allegations involve prospective adopters approved by Salford but resident elsewhere or where there are allegations against carers approved by other adoption agencies who live out of Salford, but with whom Salford children are placed, it is the responsibility of the Local Authority in whose area the prospective adopters live to investigate any allegation of harm under their own safeguarding procedures.

In addition it is the responsibility of the authority where a child is resident to follow up any concerns following allegations in respect of that child. However the relevant Local Authority will wish to work alongside the child's Salford social worker and team manager and the adoption social worker to investigate the concerns and or allegations in those circumstances where this is appropriate.

Whenever a concern or allegation is made regarding prospective adopters where a child is placed for adoption in another local authority area there should be a prompt referral to that authority for enquiries to be made into the concern and /or allegation.

All necessary steps should be taken by the child's social worker and the placing authority to ensure that the procedures set out in this document are mirrored in the other authority area and robustly progressed to a managed conclusion which ensures the safety and protection of the child and a timely and effective response to the concern/allegation.

However the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) in Salford can act in a consultation and liaison capacity to assist staff in ensuring the allegation is dealt with appropriately. The LADO in Salford can be contacted on 0161 603 4350 and is based at Safeguarding Children Unit, Emerson House, Albert Street, Eccles. M30 0BG.


3. Section 1: Allegations Procedure

3.1

Identification

3.1.1 Any concern that a child placed for adoption in Salford may be suffering, or is at risk of suffering ill treatment, due to the actions or in-actions of a prospective adopter will be treated as an allegation of significant harm pending further enquiries.
3.1.2 Concerns about the care a child placed for adoption is receiving that may suggest Neglect, Emotional Abuse, Sexual Abuse or Physical Abuse or where there is concern about smacking rough handling or punishment regimes should all be dealt with within this procedural framework.
3.1.3 Where there is any doubt about whether a situation reaches the threshold for child protection enquiries or whether the carers' suitability should be reviewed, discussions should always take place with the LADO so that advice can be obtained.
3.1.4 Allegations may come from a variety of sources; an accusation that a child is, or has been, mistreated by a carer may be made by a child, a parent, a member of staff, another carer, or anyone else. Concerns about Significant Harm may arise as the result of a single event, observation or accusation, or a number of events which, individually, might not be seen as significant but collectively constitute harm.

3.2

Complaints about prospective adopters

3.2.1 Complaints may be made about a prospective adopter's actions or behaviour, by a child or member of the public. Complaints will be dealt with under the Children's Services Complaints procedures as governed by the Children Act 1989, Representations Procedure (England) Regulations 2006. Eligible complainants should be informed of their rights under the Children's Services Complaints procedure and given the contact details for the Customer Care Manager. Alternatively in the case of other Adoption Agencies, a complaint will be responded to according to the Adoption Agency's own complaints procedure as appropriate.
3.2.2 Matters investigated under the Allegations Procedures may also constitute a complaint. Regulation 8(3) of the Children Act 1989, Representations Procedure (England) Regulations 2006 refers to 'concurrent consideration' and enables a Local Authority to give written notice to the complainant that the matter will be dealt with under disciplinary proceedings or is the subject of a criminal investigation. However the complainant is entitled under Regulation 8(4) to resubmit the representation once disciplinary proceedings or a criminal investigation is concluded. It is important that the need to inform the complainant about the outcome is not overlooked at the conclusion of an investigation.
3.2.3 The Children's Services Complaints Procedure or where appropriate, the relevant Adoption Agency's Complaints Procedure may also be used where an investigation under the Allegations Procedures has not covered all the issues raised by a child or young person.

3.3

Referral and Immediate Response

3.3.1 Any person who is concerned about the welfare of a child placed for adoption should contact Salford City Council Children's Services Directorate directly.
3.3.2 Any person to whom an allegation or concern is first reported should treat the matter seriously and keep an open mind.
3.3.3

He/she should not:

  • Investigate or ask leading questions if seeking clarification;
  • Make assumptions or offer alternative explanations;
  • Promise confidentiality, but give reassurance that the information will only be shared on a 'need to know' basis.
3.3.4 Any professional receiving such information should report to their line manager (senior manager) at once.
3.3.5

The senior manager should not investigate the matter. He/she should:

  • Obtain written details of the concern/allegation, signed and dated by the person receiving (not the child/adult making the allegation);
  • Record any information about times, dates and location of the incident(s) and names of any potential witnesses; and
  • Ensure that the following people are notified immediately:
    • The child's worker and team manager;
    • The prospective adopters social worker and Team Manager Adoption and Permanence Support;
    • The Team Manager (Senior Manager) of the Adoption Agency with which the adopter is approved if other than Salford City Council.

3.4

Salford Approved Prospective Adopters

3.4.1

The child's Team Manager and the Team Manager Adoption and Permanence will within one working day, contact Salford's Local Authority Designated Manager (LADO).

3.4.2

The Team Manager Adoption and Permanence will consult immediately with the Head of Service, Looked After Children who will notify the Assistant Director, Inclusion if appropriate and other relevant people. If the involvement of the press is likely this will include briefing the Lead Member for Children's Services, the Strategic Director, Children's Services and the press office. In the absence of the Head of Service notification will be made to the Assistant Director, Inclusion or another available senior manager at 3rd tier or above.

3.5

Prospective Adopters resident in Salford but approved by another Adoption Agency.

3.5.1 For children placed by Salford Children's Services, the child's Team Manager and the Designated Senior Manager of the relevant Adoption Agency will, within one working day, contact Salford's LADO. The LADO will decide whether on the information available the matter should be investigated under the Allegations Procedures. In reaching a decision, the LADO will be guided by the definitions of allegations and concerns set out above. The procedures as set out below in respect of the actions of the LADO will then be followed.
3.5.2 The child's Team Manager is responsible for alerting the placing authorities of any other children in placement immediately.
3.5.3 If the child has been placed in Salford by another Local Authority, the responsible authority should contact Salford's LADO who will consult with the relevant senior officer of the placing authority.
3.5.4 If the concern relates to a prospective adopter for a voluntary adoption agency and it is not clear who should be notified the LADO and OFSTED should be contacted.

3.6

Actions by the LADO

3.6.1

There are up to 3 strands in the consideration of an allegation:

  • A police investigation of a possible criminal offence;
  • Enquiries and assessment by children's services about whether a child is in need of protection or in need of services;
  • Decisions about an adopter's suitability to continue to act in that capacity.
3.6.2 On receipt of a referral the LADO and the Team Manager Adoption and Permanence should consider first whether further details are needed and whether there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the allegation may be false or unfounded.
3.6.3 If the allegation is not demonstrably false and there is cause to suspect that a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm, the LADO should refer to the child's social worker (LAC) and convene an immediate strategy discussion or meeting.
3.6.4 The LADO will be responsible for convening of a strategy meeting within 48 hours or sooner if in consultation with the child's team manager and the carer's team manager, the LADO considers that there is a need for urgent action via an immediate strategy discussion on the same day.
3.6.5

If the LADO decides that the matter does not meet the threshold for investigation under the Allegations procedure (significant harm, or the likelihood of suffering significant harm or potential unsuitability of the adopter) but does constitute a serious breach of standards:

  • The Team Manager Adoption and Permanence will immediately consult the Head of Service, Looked After Children for advice on how to proceed;
  • For adopters approved by a voluntary adoption agency, the LADO will discuss with the agency the feasibility of using its own internal procedures.
3.6.6 In either case the Team Manager Adoption and Permanence should ensure that a regular report on progress, at least once every 2 weeks, is made to the LADO.
3.6.7 All participants will keep a record of the action they have taken, and, if appropriate, the reasons for any decisions made at this stage. A record will be placed on the child and the prospective adopters files.
3.6.8 The initial decision to invoke the Allegations Procedure should be open to review in the light of further information. If, at any stage of the investigation, it appears that a matter initially viewed as a concern is more properly dealt with as an allegation, or conversely, the worker responsible for the matter should seek guidance from the LADO.

3.7

Strategy meeting and subsequent enquiries

3.7.1

Following the actions outlined above the LADO will convene and chair a Strategy Meeting within 5 working days to consider the need for any action to:

  • Safeguard the welfare of the child concerned, any other children living in the household, or with substantial contact with the carer(s) including the carers children;
  • Arrange for a medical to be undertaken if needed;
  • Begin a criminal investigation.
3.7.2

The following should always be invited:

  • The child's social worker;
  • The allocated social worker's team manager;
  • The worker and/or manager for any other child currently placed with the prospective adopters;
  • The adoption social worker;
  • The Team Manager Adoption and Permanence;
  • The Police Public Protection Investigation Unit;
  • Legal adviser.
3.7.3

The following may also be invited:

  • A professional with substantial knowledge of the child, e.g. a health worker or therapist;
  • A representative from the child's school;
  • Any other appropriate person in consultation with the LADO.
3.7.4 Consideration should also be given as to the need for a social worker other than the child' s allocated social worker to be invited. This will be necessary in cases where it is considered appropriate for a worker from another team to conduct any subsequent enquiries / investigation on account of the circumstances of the allegation, and/or the need for a suitably trained worker to conduct the enquiries / investigation.
3.7.5 If it is felt necessary to remove, or prevent the prospective adopters from having contact with, a child or children, the participants will agree what information can be shared at this stage with the child(ren), their parents, and the prospective adopters involved and who will do this. Consideration should be given to any specific communication needs and if necessary interpreters provided.
3.7.6 The LADO will ensure the strategy meeting is minuted and minutes are circulated to all involved.
3.7.7 The Adoption Social Worker or their Team Manager will inform the prospective adopters of the support available to them. In most cases the Adoption Social Worker will remain responsible for providing support to the adopter. If this is not appropriate or feasible another member of the Adoption Team will be identified to carry out this role.
3.7.8 If the concerns are considered so significant, consideration as to the need to remove the child immediately will need to be given or whether notice should be served on the placement. In this event legal advice should be sought immediately to clarify the child's status under the Adoption and Children Act 2002 and hence the course of action that will need to be taken. If the child is to be moved, then clarification should be sought on what explanation should be offered to the new carers for the change of placement.
3.7.9 The strategy meeting should also consider if an immediate referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service barred list. The advice of the LADO should be sought in such circumstances.

3.8

Preparation for the Strategy Meeting

3.8.1

The child's social worker will ensure that the following information is available to the strategy meeting:

  • The full name and date of birth of the child or children;
  • Whether the child has any special needs, communication difficulties, or uses a language other than English;
  • How long the child has been in the placement;
  • Significant recent events in the child's life;
  • Details of any other worker closely involved with the child;
  • The date the child was last seen by the worker and the circumstances;
  • Any previous concerns the worker has had about the prospective adopters and what action was taken;
  • Details of the child's own family members, particularly those with parental responsibility;
  • The child's legal status and whether an adoption application has been filed with the court.
3.8.2 If there are other children in placement, then their worker or manager will also prepare the information outlined above.
3.8.3

The adoption social worker and their manager will ensure that the following information is available to the strategy meeting:

  • Full name, address and date(s) of birth of the prospective adopter(s);
  • Whether the prospective adopter(s) work or have worked with children in either a paid or voluntary capacity;
  • Full names and dates of birth of any other members of the household;
  • Date of approval, and dates of Reviews;
  • Details of children currently placed and their workers;
  • Details of other children living in the prospective adopter's household or who have significant contact with the prospective adopter(s);
  • A list of all the names of all children previously placed with the carers where applicable and their dates of birth;
  • A summary of any previous concerns or allegations concerning these prospective adopter(s) and their outcomes as recorded on the file.
3.8.4 Managers in conjunction with the LADO should consider the need for a media strategy and who will be responsible for this in accordance with the specific case and should alert the Assistant Director, Inclusion and the Lead Member for Children's Services to any such requirements.

3.9

Decision to proceed with Section 47 Enquiries

3.9.1 The purpose of a Strategy Meeting is to consider, whether in the light of the information available at the time, it is possible that the child(ren) may have suffered, or is likely to suffer Significant Harm.
3.9.2 If this possibility cannot be ruled out then child protection enquiries under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989 must take place and those present at the meeting will need to plan how the enquiries should proceed. The Team Manager for the child will attend the strategy meeting and will be responsible for arranging for a social worker to conduct the section 47 enquiries. In cases where it is decided that a social worker other than the child's social worker should undertake these enquiries, it needs to be clear which manager is responsible for managing the section 47 enquiries.
3.9.3 The possibility of a criminal investigation should be explored, and decisions taken about whether the scope of enquiries should include other children the prospective adopters have cared for. It is important that, without prejudice to the investigation, the support and communication needs of both the child(ren) and the prospective adopter(s) should be considered.
3.9.4 Careful planning will be needed to ensure that the child and the prospective adopter(s) are given information as quickly as possible about what is happening. Those present at the strategy meeting will also need to consider what information the police record as it may be disclosed for Disclosure and Barring Service checks on the carer in future. It is especially important that if the police attend the first strategy meeting but are not involved in subsequent enquiries, that the police are given accurate information on the outcome of enquiries.
3.9.5 Time-scales for the enquiries must be established which take into account the distress caused to a child and the prospective adopter(s) by delays and uncertainty. Whilst it is rarely possible to predict how long enquiries may take, a date for further strategy/enquiry planning meeting or, if possible an outcomes meeting should be set for within 15 working days. Where available information about the allegation is limited and a clarification interview is planned, a further review meeting should be arranged at the Strategy Meeting. Wherever possible investigation will be concluded within a 4 week period.

3.10

Decision not to proceed with section 47 enquiries

3.10.1 If it is considered that the concerns/allegations do not meet the threshold for significant harm, then the reasons for a decision not to proceed with section 47 enquiries must be recorded by the LADO and copied for the child and the carer's files. Any decision and consequent action to further explore the concerns or issues raised should also be recorded.

3.11

Informing the prospective adopter(s)

3.11.1 Unless otherwise advised by the police to avoid prejudicing a criminal investigation, the prospective adopter(s) should be informed as soon as possible after the strategy meeting if not already aware of the allegation. Prospective adopter(s) should be given the following information, both verbally and in writing in their preferred language.

3.12

Informing the child's parents

3.12.1 Consideration should be given at the initial and subsequent strategy meeting as to whether when and how the child's parents should be informed of the concerns and the response to the concerns. A written record of all decisions should be maintained on the child's file signed by the child's team manager.

3.13

Where enquiries are not continuing

  Where no further action is proposed under this procedure, it is the joint responsibility of the child's team manager and the Team Manager Adoption and Permanence to inform the prospective adopter(s) in writing of the details of the allegations. Prospective adopter(s) should be given a copy of the papers that will be placed on their file, and invited to make written representations if they wish. Where further exploration as a concern is planned, this should be clearly explained to the prospective adopter.

3.14

Where enquiries are continuing

3.14.1

It may not be possible to share full details of the allegations or concerns at this stage as it is likely that the social worker conducting the Section 47 Enquiries and /or police will need to conduct a formal interview. However, unless the police advise otherwise, the Team Manager Adoption and Permanence should ensure that prospective adopters are informed both verbally and in writing about:

  • The process of the enquiry and why it is taking place;
  • The time-scales agreed at the strategy meeting in respect of s 47 enquiries and what will happen next;
  • The reasons for the removal of children, if applicable; If immediate removal of the child is indicated, Leave of the Court will be required if the prospective adopter has already applied for an Adoption Order but not acquired it;
  • When, where and by whom interviews will be conducted;
  • Advice to obtain legal representation if interviewed by the police and information on legal representation;
  • Contact details for independent support from Adoption UK;
  • The information and support needs of the prospective adopter(s) own children should be discussed and recorded.
3.14.2 All information supplied should be confirmed in writing in the prospective adopter(s) preferred language following verbal discussion.

3.15

Informing the child

3.15.1 Where the alleged victim has made the allegation(s) under investigation, as well as ensuring protection from future harm, it is important that he or she is informed of what actions have been taken in response to his/ her concerns. Normally responsibility for keeping the child informed will fall to the child's social worker. In all circumstances the child has the right to know the outcome of any enquiries and/or investigation.

3.16

Section 47 enquiries

3.16.1 Wherever possible, the social worker conducting the section 47 enquiries and /or their team manager should attend the strategy meeting.
3.16.2

The social worker where this is not the child's social worker should meet with the child's worker to consider:

  • The child's history, with particular reference to any known or suspected previous abuse or allegations;
  • The child's placement history and current placement, including any particular problems previously identified;
  • The child's preferred method of communication and how best to conduct the interview.
3.16.3

The social worker should also meet the prospective adopter(s) social worker to consider:

  • The prospective adopter(s) experience, strengths and weaknesses;
  • Relevant Information about the prospective adopter(s) family;
  • The prospective adopter(s) use of support;
  • Any problems previously identified with the placement of the child(ren) concerned;
  • The prospective adopter(s) preferred method of communication and how best to conduct the interview.
3.16.4 Following these preliminary enquiries the child should be interviewed as soon as possible. In some circumstances this may be a joint interview with the police. Where the police are not involved, a full written record should be made of this interview and a copy sent to the child's Team Manager, the Team Manager Adoption and Permanence and the LADO.
3.16.5 The prospective adopter(s) should also be interviewed by the investigating officer(s) as soon as possible after the above enquiries have been completed. It is important that interviews of both the prospective adopter(s) and the child are conducted by the same investigating officer(s).
3.16.6 Where the enquiries are being conducted jointly with the police, information about the nature of the allegations will be withheld from the prospective adopter(s) unless the police consent to disclosure.
3.16.7 The conclusion of the police investigation will not necessarily end Section 47 enquiries by the Children's Services Directorate. However the investigating social worker will, when the police consent, inform the prospective adopter(s) of the outcome of the police investigation and what will happen next.
3.16.8 Where the police are not involved in the enquiries, a full written record will be made of the interview and the prospective adopter(s) responses. Prospective adopter(s) should be encouraged to provide all information they feel will assist in making their case. The prospective adopter(s) should be invited to make a written response to the investigating social worker if they wish to do so. If such a submission is received, the investigating social worker will ensure a copy is sent to the LADO and the child's and the Team Manager Adoption and Permanence.
3.16.9 It is the responsibility of the investigating social worker to keep the LADO and the child's and adoption team managers updated about the progress of the investigation. The Team Manager Adoption and Permanence will need to ensure that the prospective adopter(s) is kept informed of events.
3.16.10 The LADO is responsible for ensuring that enquiries are concluded within the time-scales set out at the strategy meeting. If a delay is unavoidable due to the need to gather further information, or to widen the scope of the investigation, then the reasons for the delay should be recorded. The LADO should immediately set a revised date for the Concluding Strategy Meeting and ensure all parties are notified.
3.16.11 The Adoption Social Worker or the Team Manager Adoption and Permanence will keep the prospective adopter(s) informed of the timetable of the investigation and any necessary delays.

3.17

Decision not to pursue Enquiries

3.17.1 If it appears that the evidence does not support the continuation of enquiries under this procedure, then the LADO and other participants in the strategy meeting should be informed immediately. The LADO will make a decision about whether a Concluding Strategy Meeting should be held in these circumstances.
3.17.2 The ending of section 47enquiries will not necessarily conclude the investigation as there may still be serious issues that require exploration under the procedure for managing concerns about the prospective adopter(s) practice. The LADO and the Team Manager Adoption and Permanence should be consulted and a decision made as to whether the circumstances warrant further exploration.
3.17.3 Information gathered by the Children's Services Directorate in the course of making the decision about whether to proceed with a S.47 enquiry should be made available for use by the Children's Services Directorate or the relevant Adoption Agency in relation to implementing its own procedure, unless there are restrictions applied by the police.

3.18

Concluding Enquiries

3.18.1 The investigating social worker officer should prepare a written report to include details of the allegation or concern, the enquiries undertaken and his or her findings taking account of any issues of consent for disclosure. If time-scales have slipped the reason for the delay should be recorded in the report. The prospective adopters should also be encouraged to make a written submission in advance of the Concluding Strategy Meeting.
3.18.2 The report must be distributed before the Concluding Strategy Meeting to those who will attend. The investigating social worker and the Team Manager Adoption and Permanence and the adoption social worker will arrange to visit the prospective adopter(s) to discuss the report's contents.
3.18.3 Children placed for adoption and not yet adopted are looked after children. However, they are placed under Adoption Agency Regulations and legal action to remove a child is dependent upon their legal status in relation to the Adoption and Children Act 2002, whether an adoption application has been made or whether the child is subject to transitional arrangements under the Adoption Act 1976. Legal advice must always be sought specifically in relation to adoption status when considering removal of a child placed for adoption within a child protection investigation.

3.19

Concluding Strategy Meeting

3.19.1 At the conclusion of the section 47 enquiry into allegations against prospective adopters, it is good practice for the LADO to call a further Strategy Meeting to conclude the investigation and agree final outcomes. This will ensure that links are made between the Section 47 enquiry, the needs of the children and adults concerned, and any action to be taken by the Adoption Service/agency in relation to its own procedures. Where a criminal investigation is in progress a Concluding Strategy Meeting can be conducted unless legal advice is received that it should not.
3.19.2 All those who attended the initial strategy meeting should attend plus a legal adviser.
3.19.3 The remit of the meeting is set out in Salford Safeguarding Children Board Procedure for managing allegations against workers, carers and volunteers who may have contact with children.
3.19.4 The Chair is responsible for ensuring a written record of the Concluding Strategy Meeting is made and distributed.
3.19.5 The prospective adopter(s) should also have copies of all papers that will be placed on their file, unless third party rights of confidentiality would be breached by the disclosure.
3.19.6

The Concluding Strategy Meeting must consider, irrespective of the outcome of any police enquiry, whether there is reasonable cause to suspect the child has, or is likely to, suffer significant harm and arrive at one of the following determinations concerning the allegation:

  • Substantiated (supported by evidence and found to be true ) with risk of continuing harm if child remains in placement;
  • Substantiated (supported by evidence and found to be true) with no risk of continuing harm if child remains in placement;
  • False (evidence shows it to be untrue);
  • Unsubstantiated (the available evidence is insufficient to show it to be true or false).
3.19.7 It should also consider any potential risk to any other children living with or having significant contact with the adopters?
3.19.8 All professionals attended the meeting will be asked by the Chair to give their opinions concerning the appropriate determination. The outcomes meeting may also make recommendations for further actions.
3.19.9 A recommendation for referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) barred list will be considered by the Concluding Strategy Meeting. Unless otherwise advised by the LADO, the Assistant Director, Inclusion will make a referral to the DBS within one month of such a recommendation.
3.19.10 The meeting should determine what information should be given to all those affected by the enquiry, including birth parents, and identify who this, and what records should do will be kept on the files of the child (ren) and carer. The meeting should identify who will ensure that the police are updated where necessary.
3.19.11 The meeting should also consider whether there is a need to make general recommendations for improvement in policy or practice relating to this procedure arising from the investigatory process.
3.19.12 The Independent Reviewing Officer for the child should also be informed of the outcome of the enquiries and the Concluding Strategy meeting. The possibility of an early LAC review should be considered at the point.
3.19.13 The adoption social worker should prepare a full report for the Adoption and Permanence Panel setting out all the relevant information, the conclusions and the recommendation of the Concluding Strategy Meeting regarding the adopters' continuing suitability to adopt.

3.20

If an allegation is subsequently withdrawn

3.20.1 If it comes to light at any stage that an allegation investigated under this procedure has been withdrawn, enquiries are needed to ascertain that the withdrawal is genuine. In all cases the worker for the child must ensure that this information is passed on to the Team Manager Adoption and Permanence for the prospective adopter(s) so that a record is made on the prospective adopter(s) file. A strategy meeting will usually be called to ensure all appropriate safeguards have been put in place for all parties.

3.21

Continuing work with the adopters

3.21.1

Prospective adopter(s) should be offered the opportunity to meet with their adoption social worker and the Adoption Team Manager after a decision has been made about the plans for the child in placement following an investigation. This will provide an opportunity for the prospective adopter(s) and the adoption service to consider:

  • The impact of the investigation on the prospective adopter(s) and their family,
  • The conduct of the investigation and its outcomes;
  • Clarification of any remaining uncertainties about the plan for the child or the consequences of the investigation for the future;
  • Any risk management plan or training plan in place and how this will be monitored and reviewed;
  • Any support needs the prospective adopter(s) or their family may have.
3.21.2 A written record of the meeting should be sent to the prospective adopter(s) and a copy placed on their file.

3.22

Minor concerns about standards of care

3.22.1 Questions may arise concerning the care provided to a child, or a possible breach of the standards expected of prospective adopters. These may include issues related to discipline methods, hygiene standards, confidentiality, or level of supervision.
3.22.2 Minor issues should be dealt with promptly and as part of supervision of the adoptive placement but should be recorded on the prospective adopter(s) file and the child's file.
3.22.3 Where a child's worker has initiated the concern, he or she should send a report of the concern to the adoption social worker and the Team Manager Adoption and Permanence. The report should be used to record how the matter was addressed and a copy given to the prospective adopter.

3.23

Follow up and recording

3.23.1 The Team Manager Adoption and Permanence should ensure that all appropriate papers are placed on prospective adopter(s) file and that the prospective adopter(s) file is updated with the final outcome. He or she should confirm that no confidential information concerning third parties is left on the prospective adopter(s) file. Prospective adopter(s) will want to ensure that records are accurate, fair, and include their own views.
3.23.2 The Team Manager Adoption and Permanence will, in discussion with the adoption social worker consider the support needs of the prospective adopter(s) and family, and make arrangements for this to be provided where appropriate as part of an adoption support plan.
3.23.3 The Team Manager(s) for the child(ren) will ensure that the records contained on the child's file are accurate and complete, that the outcome is recorded and that any confidential information concerning the prospective adopter(s) is removed. The Team Manager(s) for the child(ren) will also consider how the child should be informed about the outcome, whether therapeutic or other support is needed, and if appropriate liaise with the Customer Care Manager about any outstanding complaints.

3.24

References and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks

3.24.1 Prospective adopter(s) should be informed that information about any investigation under the Allegations or Concerns procedures will be disclosed as part of a reference for future work with children in any capacity. If the matter was dealt with under the Allegations Procedure it may also be disclosed in the course of a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

3.25

Contact with Ofsted

3.25.1 The following arrangements are in place to enable those who may need to, to contact Ofsted regarding any concern about child welfare or safety.
3.25.2 Children are supplied with Ofsted contact details in the' Children's Guide'. In addition this information is given to all prospective adopters, in the leaflet on Adoption Support Services.
3.25.3 Staff employed within the Adoption Service is supplied with information about how and when to contact Ofsted.


4. Section 2: Procedures for Responding to Allegations in Respect of Children Receiving Adoption Support Services

4.1 In response to an allegation in relation to an adopted child in receipt of adoption support services, enquiries should be made in accordance with Salford's Safeguarding Procedures. The initial allegation should be referred to the Duty and Investigation Team for the allegation to be investigated. The Adoption Support Adviser and/or a Team Manager, Adoption and Permanence should be informed, consulted and involved at every stage of the investigation as appropriate.
4.2 In addition it is the responsibility of the authority where a child is resident and receiving adoption support services to follow up any concerns allegations in respect of that child.
4.3 Whenever an allegation is regarding an adopted child who is receiving adoption support services from Salford City Council but living in another local authority there should be a prompt referral to that authority for enquiries to be made into the allegation.
4.4 Whenever it becomes apparent within Section 47 Enquiries that a child subject to an allegation is adopted, consideration should be given as to whether it is appropriate to involve adoption support services and at what stage. As a guide, adoption support services should be used to address any aspect of need which relates specifically to adoption and may also provide advice to professionals on aspects of adoption. The team manager responsible for the case should discuss the appropriateness of involving the Adoption Support Adviser with the Adoption Team Manager. The Adoption Support Adviser cannot be used to lead on a formal protection plan. Hence if the threshold for Significant Harm is met a child protection conference will be convened and a child protection plan put in place if appropriate.


5. Section 3: Procedures for Responding to Concerns and/or Allegations about Prospective Adopters Awaiting Placement

5.1 In response to a reported concern and/or allegation about a prospective adopter prior to the placement of a child for adoption enquires should be made in accordance with Salford Safeguarding Procedures Salford Safeguarding Children Board - Procedure for managing allegations against workers, carers and volunteers who may have contact with children.
5.2 All such enquiries/investigations should be in consultation with the adoption social worker for the prospective adopters and the Team Manager Adoption and Permanence. This is likely to involve the adoption social worker for the prospective adopters and the Team Manager Adoption and Permanence Support attending and contributing to strategy meetings and assisting with any enquiries or investigations as appropriate.
5.3 In addition the procedures outlined above in Section 1 in relation to a Concluding Strategy Meeting, a review of approval and a follow up discussion with the adopters will need to be followed as appropriate to the needs of the case and the nature of the concerns. The Adoption and Permanence Panel will need to be informed of events and if termination of approval is recommended and prospective adopter(s) are not in agreement with this the case will need to be referred to the Adoption and Permanence panel. In this event the adopters will have a right of appeal to the Independent Review Mechanism.


6. Section 4: Historical Abuse

6.1

Disclosure

6.1.1 Adults occasionally disclose experiences of abuse which they perceive constitutes significant harm when they reach adulthood.
6.1.2

Organisational responses to allegations by an adult of abuse experienced as a child must be of as high a standard as a response to current abuse because:

  • There is a significant likelihood that a person who abused a child/ren in the past will have continued and may still be doing so;
  • Criminal prosecution may be possible if sufficient evidence can be carefully collated.

6.2

Response

6.2.1 When an adult discloses childhood abuse, the professional receiving the Information should record the discussion in detail. If possible, the professional should establish if the adult has any knowledge of the alleged abuser's recent or current whereabouts and contact with children.
6.2.2 In view of the potential continuing risk the alleged abuser may pose to children, the professional should make a referral to the Children's Services Directorate Duty and Investigation Team.
6.2.3 The social worker receiving the referral should seek sufficient information to develop a chronology, and all records must be dated and the authorship made clear.
6.2.4 If information about the current whereabouts of the alleged abuser has not yet been gathered, the Duty and Investigation Team should establish this as a matter of urgency.
6.2.5 The adult who has disclosed should be asked whether they want a police investigation and must be reassured that the police are able and willing to progress an investigation even for those adults who are vulnerable as a result of mental ill health or learning difficulties.
6.2.6 The Duty and Investigation Team should reassure the adult that, even without their direct involvement, all reasonable efforts will be made to investigate the alleged abuse. The Adoption Agency should support the adult to access therapeutic or other services, as appropriate.
6.2.7

Where the adult against whom the allegation is made is an adoptive parent the Duty and Investigation Team should:

  • Inform the police at the earliest opportunity and establish if there is any information regarding the alleged abuser's current contact with children, irrespective of the wishes of the victim as to whether a police prosecution should take place;
  • Inform the Head of Service, Court and Child Protection if the adult who has disclosed requests a police investigation or if the allegations involve organised and complex abuse (police involvement in an investigation will depend on a number of factors, including the victim's wishes and the public interest);
  • Initiate Section 47 Enquiries if the alleged abuser is known to be currently caring for children or has access to children. This must include making a referral to Children's Social Care in the area where the alleged abuser is currently living;
  • In respect of historic allegations against an adopter, full enquiries should be made in accordance with the procedures set out in section 1 above if another child is placed for adoption or Salford's Procedures for safeguarding children in foster care in the case of a child placed for fostering (see Allegations Against Foster Carers).
6.2.8 Where an adult alleges abuse in childhood in a different local authority area, the case should be transferred to agencies in the area where the abuse is alleged to have taken place. Parallel enquiries may be needed if the alleged abuser has contact with children elsewhere. The co-ordinating LA Children's Social Care should be the one responsible for the geographical area where the abuse is alleged to have taken place.
6.2.9 The responsible police service for investigation will be the one covering the area where the alleged abuse is said to have taken place.


Appendix 1: Outline Flowchart

Click here to view Appendix 1: Outline Flowchart

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