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8.13c Adoption by Local Authority or Independent  Foster Agency,  Foster Carers of a Foster Child Already Placed with them

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

If foster carer(s) wish to adopt a child, who is not placed with them as a foster child, the usual assessment and approval process for prospective adopters applies.

AMENDMENT

In March 2017, the Information for Parents about Adoption and Information for Foster Carers going onto Adopt on Financial Support Leaflets referred to in this chapter were marked as being under review.


Contents

  1. Guidance
  2. Procedures
  3. Flowchart


1. Guidance

Some children are adopted by foster carer(s) who have been looking after him/her, as his/her foster child. Children Services welcomes applications from foster carer(s) to adopt a child who is placed with them and has a care plan for adoption recommended at a Permanency Planning Meeting. Such a plan is usually endorsed at the child’s CLA Review, chaired by the Independent Reviewing Officer.

Foster carer(s) must:

  • Give careful consideration as to whether they are able to take on the full responsibility for the child throughout  his/her childhood and into adulthood;
  • Be able to make a permanent commitment to him/her;
  • Discuss this with their supervising social worker before taking the matter further;
  • Are recommended to seek independent legal advice.

If the foster carer gives formal notice of intention to apply to adopt without this issue having been previously discussed with the local authority, the local authority must give it serious consideration and ensure the foster carer is offered information and counselling, where the agency considers it necessary.


2. Procedures

(In addition to the normal adoption assessment)

2.1 Foster carer expresses initial interest in Adopting a specific child to Supervising Social Worker (SSW)

The plans for adoption should be discussed fully with the child according to his/ her level of understanding. It is essential that sensitive planned work is carried out prior to an adoption application to ensure that the child understands his past and they foster carers understand the child's need for information about his birth family. The Child’s Social Worker (CSW) should not discuss additional matters about the process with the foster carer(s).
(Responsibility - Child's Social Worker)

The child's Adoption Plan should be completed by his/her CSW, in the normal way, to clarify and highlight all of the child's needs. A visit must then be made by the Adoption Social Worker (ASW) together with the CSW, and the SSW. The outcomes of this visit must be recorded by the CSW and sent in writing to the ASW and SSW.
(Responsibility CSW)

The child's social worker should discuss the plans for adoption with the birth parents and given them a copy of Hertfordshire's leaflet 'Information for Parents about Adoption' - under review and the birth parents pack.
(Responsibility - Child's Social Worker)

The foster carer(s) interest should be fully explored informally by the CSW, the CSW’s Team Manager, the SSW and the SSW’s Team Manager and the ASW and the ASW’s Team Manager. If any difference of view emerges this should be escalated to Services Managers, and, if necessary, to Heads of Service, where a final decision will be made by the Head of Fostering and Adoption.
(Responsibility - CSW)

2.2 First steps, if Children Services support foster carer’s wish to adopt a child

If, at this point, Children Services support the foster carers progressing with their adoption application (in line with the care plan agreed at the child’s Permanency Planning Meeting), the SSW invites the foster carer(s) to progress. The SSW is subsequently in a neutral role, supporting the foster carer as foster carer, and is not an advocate for the foster carer within the care planning for the child. The SSW must explain that the foster carer(s) remain part of the parallel plan for the child and any decision as to whether the child should be adopted remains with the court. It is important that the foster carer(s)’ actions may not be seen as undermining any part of the parallel plan
(Responsibility - SSW)

The foster carer(s) must write a letter/expression of interest, expressing a wish to adopt the child and stating the reason why they have made this decision. This should be sent to the Services Manager, Adoption Service, Children Services, First Floor, Farnham House, Six Hills Way, Stevenage, SG1 2FQ.
(Responsibility - SSW)

The Head of Adoption and Fostering must be notified.
(Responsibility - SSW)

The ASW the lead social worker undertaking a Viability Assessment (proforma needs to be on Compass) of the foster carers for adoption, utilising information from the relevant professionals e.g. the child’s social worker.
(Responsibility - ASW)

The ASW should email the Viability Assessment to the CSW, the SSW and the relevant Team Managers relating to these. The content may be agreed by email, but if there is a difference of view a meeting should be held.
(Responsibility - ASW)

The Viability Assessment’s conclusion is ratified by the Head of Service, Fostering and Adoption.
(Responsibility - ASW)

The ASW informs the foster carer(s) in writing the outcome of the Viability Assessment.
(Responsibility - ASW)

The CSW informs the Independent Reviewing Officer and Children’s Guardian if the decision is to progress the foster carer’s expression of interest to adopt. This should not be undertaken at an earlier stage as Children Services would not have reached a view prior to this.
(Responsibility - CSW)

2.3 Assessment for post adoption support, including financial support

The ASW should provide the Information Leaflet for Foster Carers going onto Adopt on Financial Support - under review.

If the Adoption Services’ viability assessment is positive, the ASW:

  • Undertakes a financial assessment if the child is assessed to be in need of on-going financial support. The foster carers/prospective adopters should complete a Financial Assessment Form. An interim assessment of financial support can then be calculated;
  • And Children Services fund legal advice for the foster carers.

(Responsibility - ASW)

In addition to any means tested on-going financial support which the foster carer(s) are eligible for specifically relating to adoption, foster carers who adopt a child they are fostering will continue to receive the element of remuneration (fee) of their fostering payment for up to two years post Adoption Order. This can be extended if the local authority consider its continuation to be necessary having regard to the exceptional needs of the child or any other exceptional circumstances.
(Responsibility - SSW)

The child and the prospective adopters needs for post adoption support should be completed by the CSW, with the support of the ASW.
(Responsibility - CSW)

The issue of equipment needed by any applicants to enable them to care for the child/ children should be raised. They may be in possession of equipment, which belong to the short-term fostering team and then continued use of this equipment needs to be negotiated by the team.
(Responsibility  ASW)

When the foster carer(s) have had the benefit of the legal and financial information the ASW will ask the foster carer(s) if they wish to make a formal application.
(Responsibility  ASW)

2.4 Foster to Adopt Selection Meeting

A Foster to Adopt Selection meeting (currently called a pre-selection meeting) is booked with the relevant Adoption Team Manager to formally discuss matching considerations and how the child's foster carers can meet the child's needs as adoptive parents.
(Responsibility - CSW)

The Adoption Team Manager is responsible for minutes being taken and circulated. The issues of the assessed longer term needs of the child and the impact of the adopters and their families, must have been fully explored. The Prospective Adopter’s Report (PAR) and Child Permanence Report (CPR) will probably not yet be available. The meeting must consider other potential adopters and whether it is realistic for the foster carer(s) to make a successful application to the court to adopt.
(Responsibility -Adoption Team Manager)

It the foster carers are felt to be suitable to progress the ASW will send the Application Form to the foster carers CSF3974.
(Responsibility ASW).

If the foster carers are not felt to be suitable to progress then this needs to be confirmed in writing, clearly outlining the reasons for the decision, by the Adoption Team Manager
(Responsibility -Adoption Team Manager)

2.5 Foster Carer’s make formal application to adopt

The foster carer(s) should make a formal application to adopt.

2.6  Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers as Adopters.

The foster parents will be allocated an ASW, attend training sessions and undertake a full assessment, (PAR). Then the assessment must be presented to Adoption Panel for approval within 4 months. At a subsequent agenda item, on the same day, the Adoption Panel will consider the matching of the foster carer (with the named child).
(Responsibility ASW)

Foster carers must have access to the detailed information and training as any prospective adopters.
(Responsibility - ASW)

In all other respects, the same procedure will apply as for placing babies/children for adoption who are subject to Care Proceedings (See Permanence Planning and Placement Procedure).

2.7  Foster carer(s) who do not have the support of Children Services

These foster carer(s) may still apply for an Adoption Order and give notice to the Adoption Agency accordingly. This is dealt with as a 'Non-Agency' application by the Adoption Team.

Under the Adoption & Children Act, foster carers who have cared for a child for 1 year, or more, can give notice to the court, of their intention to adopt, Neither parents nor the local authority can remove the child from their care without the agreement of the court until the Court Hearing or until 3 months have elapsed and the foster parents have not made an application to the court. If the notice lapses, the foster carers cannot serve a fresh notice until a further 28 days have passed. This gives the local authority time to move the child if they consider a move to be in his/ her best interests.

Additionally see Independent Review Mechanism Procedure.

3. Process after Foster Carers approved as Prospective Adopters, matched with named child

The child's placement changes after the Adoption Panel's recommendation for match has been endorsed by the Agency Decision-Maker. He/she is now placed under the Adoption Regulations 2005 and becomes subject to review under those regulations.

The date for this change of placement status will be decided at the placement planning meeting. The foster carers must be notified in writing of this, and a copy of the notification placed on the child's adoption file and the adopter's file.
(Responsibility CSW)

If there is to be adoptive ongoing financial support, then the start date must be given to the finance officer and the foster payments ceased.
(Responsibility SSW and ASW)

The prospective adopters will now be visited by the adoption team, the schedule of visits following "placement" must be adhered to, as in the procedures for stranger adoptions.
(Responsibility ASW)

If there is to be adoptive on-going financial support then the interim calculation should be paid, pending the making of an Adoption order.
(Responsibility SSW then ASW)

3. Flowchart

Click here to see the Adoption of Child Looked After placed by Agency Approved Foster Carers.

End