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8.6a Placement for Adoption (Part One) - Planning and Preparing

RELATED DOCUMENTS

This chapter should be read in conjunction with the Permanence Planning Procedure.

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Statutory guidance on adoption: Adoption panels

AMENDMENT

In September 2013, Section 7, Post-placement Contact with Birth Family and Any Previous Foster Carers was updated to include a new bullet point 7.7.


Contents

  1. Planning for Permanence
  2. Assessing Sibling Relations
  3. Obtaining Agency Approval to Adoption Plan
  4. Preparation of Child for Adoption
  5. Counselling and Support for Parents
  6. Child's Adoption Medical
  7. Post-placement Contact with Birth Family and Any Previous Foster Carers
  8. Identification of Adoptive Parents (including Inter Agency Placements)
  9. Adoption Register


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1. Planning for Permanence

1.1 Every Looked After Child must have a Permanence Plan by the date of his or her second Looked After Review.
1.2 When an adoption plan is being considered in relation to a Looked After Child either as the preferred Care Plan or the Parallel Plan, consideration should be given to inviting a representative of the Adoption Service to the relevant meeting.
1.3 In relation to a Relinquished Child, an early planning meeting should be arranged to which a representative of the Adoption Service must be invited. Where adoption is considered to be the preferred option for a relinquished child, it should begin family finding immediately in order to achieve early placement following the decision.


2. Assessing Sibling Relationships

(Based on Bridge Child Care Consultancy)

2.1 Who is a Sibling?

The Permanence Plan needs information to determine whether children should be placed together and whether they should have direct or indirect contact.

The term ‘sibling’ should be interpreted quite widely to include adopted, step and half siblings, foster siblings, cousins and other relatives who may have been brought up with the child whose needs are being considered, and even close friends. The latter may be more important to a child than sibling whom s/he has never met. Research has shown that sibling relationships are very important, but can be overlooked.

2.2 Purpose

CSF4218 Sibling Relationship Checklist

This is a basic tool for studying the way siblings behave toward each other and through this, coming to a better understanding of their relationship. It is not primarily a means of deciding whether siblings should be placed together, and though it should form on part of the evidence gathered for such a decision, it should not be used as the only basis for that decision.

It can appropriately be used on behalf of children in a wider variety of family or residential setting where sibling’s relationships are causing concern or need to be better understood as part of future planning. It could, for instance, be part of a study of relationships on access visits.

The aim is to avoid the ever present risk of making unwarranted assumptions or drawing false conclusions from partial or biased evidence. This is why the checklist focuses on actual, observed behaviour and it is essential to back up each statement with an example.

It can be helpful to compare relationships over time and in different settings, so notes about changes and whether a particular behaviour is only recent or of very long standing, may be illuminating. But the list should focus on the present.

Psychologists such as Judy Dunn have shown that behaviour patterns between siblings tend to be rather stable. However, the placement changes which occur when children are looked after by local authorities may provide opportunities to modify relationships quite profoundly. They can also put relationships under extra strain.

2.3 Who should be Involved?

This checklist must be completed by people with first-hand knowledge of the children. Hearsay evidence will not do.

If the siblings are separated, they would have to be brought together for some of the assessment and some additional questions would be useful, e.g. do they try to keep in touch?

It may be appropriate for carers (past and present) to complete the checklist on their own or just with a social worker. However, very good results can be obtained by working on the lists in a group containing both past and present carers (including parents), the social worker(s), and any other people who are closely involved with the children as a sibling group. The presence of those who have observed the children at different times and in different settings helps to ensure a balanced picture and gives an opportunity to challenge allegations and assumptions. When it comes to the analysis, a group is really essential.

2.4 Completing the Lists

Relationships are always two-way. What may be mainly positive for one sibling may be very mixed or even mainly negative for the other. This means that it is important to look at each piece of behaviour from each child’s point of view and then go on to consider more general aspects of their interactions. All three parts of the list should be completed for each sibling pair. If there are several children in the family, the main features of each pair’s relationship can be brought together on a diagram using coloured pencils to denote positive, negative, etc.

It is better to leave a question unanswered than to complete it on inadequate evidence. However, too many blank answers will indicate the need for further observations.

If behaviour is found to vary greatly, it may be necessary to give several examples with details of circumstances. A pattern may then emerge.

2.5 Analysing and Interpreting the Checklist

The first step is to examine the recorded behaviours identifying those which appear to be positive and which are negative but remembering that both are present in all sibling relationships. The balance in this relationship will probably become evident, but it may be somewhat different or more complex than carers had previously realised.

Some types of behaviour have been found to have more significance than others in differentiating between a rich or poor relationship. For example, sharing in boisterous play, resolving conflict through age-appropriate reasoning and reciprocal attempts to alleviate distress, all seem to have special importance. The latter may be particularly relevant for siblings who have shared the experience of separation from adult carers.

When attempting to interpret the meaning of behaviour which has been observed and recorded and to understand this relationship, it is important to bear in mind the whole context in which this relationship has developed. Aspects to be considered include:

The children’s position in the family, a simple family tree may help here:

  • Gender;
  • Cultural and family expectations for each child;
  • The emotional age at which each is functioning;
  • The extent to which the children have shared history and family experience;
  • The role each child is perceived to have played (if any), in the siblings group’s admission to care or accommodation.

The deeper and more accurate understanding which should emerge from the analysis will provide a more secure basis for making decisions about the children’s future, for devising programmes to meet their needs and for effective support for carers in managing and modifying behaviour.


3.  Obtaining Agency Approval to Adoption Plan

3.1

Prior to 1 September 2012, the Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005 required that, whenever an adoption agency is considering adoption as the permanence plan for a child, the case must be referred to the Adoption Panel for a recommendation as to whether the child should be placed for adoption.

With effect from 1 September 2012, not all cases must be referred to the Adoption Panel. Cases where the criteria apply for the local authority to apply for a Placement Order, i.e. the child is the subject of a Care Order or the Threshold Criteria for a Care Order are satisfied or where there is no parent or guardian, will not be referred to the Adoption Panel for a recommendation, but will be referred directly to the Agency Decision Maker for a decision. All other cases (i.e. where the parents have given consent and there is no application for a Placement Order) will continue to be referred to the Adoption Panel for a recommendation, which the Agency Decision Maker will take into account when making a decision.

As soon as adoption is the Permanence Plan for the child, the child's social worker must:

  • Arrange a date for the case to be referred to the Adoption Panel (where the parents have given consent and there is no application for a Placement Order)/ book a slot for Agency Decision Maker Day with Panel Administrator.

    This date must be a maximum of 2 months from the date when the adoption plan was ratified at the child's Looked After Review. Where this timescale is not met, the reason should be recorded;
  • CSF4246 Adoption Checklist is a list of papers that the child’s social worker needs to obtain;
  • Continue to provide counselling for the child - see Section 4, Preparation of Child for Adoption;
  • Make a referral to the Adoption Service for a family finder to be identified.
3.2 The child's social worker must open an Adoption Case Record for the child once adoption has been identified as the permanence plan for the child at his or her Looked After Review or, where a child has been relinquished for adoption, as soon as the parent's request for adoption has been made. Where the plan relates to a group of siblings, there must be a separate Adoption Case Record for each child.
3.3 If not already obtained, the child's social worker should obtain 2 certified copies of the child's full birth certificate. These will be required for future Court applications and for the prospective adopters.
3.4

The child's social worker should give both birth parents written information on adoption (The BAAF leaflet “If Your Child is Being Adopted” and/or Hertfordshire’s leaflet “Information for Parents of a Child or Children Who are to be Adopted” and ask them to sign confirmation of receipt, a copy of which should be kept on the child's Adoption Case Record and a further copy should be handed to the parents.

If the birth parents are indicating consent, ensure that they sign the Agreement to Placement CSF3972 as soon as possible after this meeting and place a copy on file.

For fathers please refer to the section Fathers without parental responsibility if appropriate (see Parental Responsibility and Consent Procedure).

If either or both of the birth parents refuse to accept or do not receive the information, this should be recorded, with reasons, on the child's case record and Adoption Case Record. Where the parents' address is known, the child's social worker should personally deliver or arrange for delivery by hand of a copy of the information to the address and record this on the Adoption Case Record. See also Section 5, Counselling and Support of Parents.
3.5 If not already obtained, the child's social worker must seek the birth parents' consent to the disclosure of information on their medical history to facilitate the Adoption Medical for the child - for detailed procedures, see Section 6, Child's Adoption Medical.
3.6 The child's social worker must discuss with the parents their views on the adoption plan, and arrange the necessary counselling and support for both of the birth parents and any other significant relatives - see Section 5, Counselling and Support for Parents. If either or both of the parents decline or refuse counselling and/or support, then this should be recorded, including the reasons, in the child's electronic record and Adoption Case Record.
3.7 Where one or both of the birth parents cannot be found, the child's social worker must make extensive enquiries as to their whereabouts. The social worker should write to the parent's last known address and contact the Benefits Agency and other agencies as appropriate. Consideration should also be given to the need to place advertisements in the local and national press and legal advice should be sought as to any additional steps that should be taken.
3.8 The child's social worker must contact the child's health visitor or school health for current information in relation to the child's health and development.
3.9 The child's social worker must contact the child's school or the relevant local education service for current information in relation to the child's educational needs.
3.10 The child's social worker must ask the child's carer to complete a report (Annex to BAAF Form C or D) on the child. (This will be required for the Child's Permanence Report - see paragraph 3.13).
3.11

The child's social worker must ensure that the adoption plan addresses the issue of post-placement and post-adoption contact. This will include a possible meeting between the parents and the adopters, and whether there may be ongoing direct contact or indirect contact via a letterbox system - see Section 7, Post-placement Contact.

If the child has siblings, the plan must analyse the relationship between each child in the sibling group (using the Sibling Relationship Checklist) and, if the decision is to place siblings separately, address the issue of post-placement and post-adoption contact between them.

3.12 The child's social worker must also carry out an assessment of the likely needs for adoption support services in relation to the child (including the likely need for financial support), the birth parents and any other person with a significant relationship to the child. For the detailed procedures, see Adoption Support Procedure.
3.13

Using all the information obtained in relation to the above, the child's social worker must prepare the Child's Permanence Report. The Child's Permanence Report must be written by a qualified social worker with suitable experience (see Adoption Panel and Agency Decision Maker's Decision Procedure).

The following areas must be included or addressed in the Report:

  • Profile of the child, based on a report from the child's current carer as well as other information about the child's personality, nationality, racial origin, religious persuasion, legal status and relationship with his/her birth family;
  • The child's wishes in relation to the adoption plan and his or her preferred method of communication;
  • A chronology of the child's life since birth;
  • The preparation work, undertaken and planned, with the child and the views of the child in relation to the adoption plan and future contact with his or her birth family;
  • The views of the Children's Guardian (where possible);
  • The views of the birth family and significant others in relation to the adoption plan and contact and their opportunity to receive and comment on the report before the report is presented to Adoption Panel/Agency Decision Maker;
  • A report of the child's educational history and current needs, including the Personal Education Plan (PEP);
  • Any other relevant specialist reports on the child;
  • An assessment of the child's emotional and behavioural development;
  • An assessment of the child's needs for post-placement and post-adoption contact, including with siblings, and the child's and birth relatives' needs for adoption support services;
  • An analysis of the options for the child's future care and the alternatives to adoption considered. This must be a balanced view and where experts' assessments are available, their contents and recommendations - even if not supportive of the adoption plan - should be included;
  • Where the child has siblings, whether the decision is to place siblings separately or together and the rationale for the decision.

A copy of the Report or the relevant sections of the Report should be provided to the parents and the child where appropriate. The parents should be asked to sign the Report and provide any written comments they wish to make. It may be appropriate to request the parent(s)’ solicitor to assist with this CSF4169 proforma Letters re CPR to Birth parents’ Solicitor and return the following letter confirming whether or not they have been able to share it with the parents, and if so return any signed pages (CSF4170 pro Forma Letter re CPR from Birth Parents Solicitor).

3.14

Presentation to the Adoption Panel

See paragraph 3.1 for circumstances when the case will be referred to the Adoption Panel, and when the case will be referred directly to the Agency Decision Maker. Where cases are referred directly to the Agency Decision Maker, paragraph 3.14 does not apply and the procedure is set out in 3.15 below.

This must take place within 6 weeks of the completion of the Child's Permanence Report.

To enable the Adoption Panel to consider whether the child is suitable to be placed for adoption, the child's social worker must present the following reports:

  1. A front sheet stating what is being reported, the reports included, the recommendations sought and who will be attending Adoption Panel;
  2. The Child's Permanence Report (including the Medical Adviser's comments) signed by the child's social worker, the manager and the parent (if willing), and a photograph of the child, together with the parents' written comments (if any);
  3. The child's health report and the health information obtained in relation to the parents (where the Medical Adviser so advises);
  4. Legal advice about parental consent and the option of seeking a Placement Order;
  5. Where experts' assessments are available (including where they have been filed in Court proceedings), their contents and recommendations - even if not supportive of the adoption plan - should be presented to the Panel/Agency Decision Maker. The full reports should be presented unless they are voluminous, in which case, as a minimum, those sections setting out the experts' opinion, conclusions and recommendations should be provided. A written summary of such reports should only be provided if all parties to the court proceedings agree in writing that the summary is fair and accurate. Copies of the full reports should be available for Panel members (at the panel meeting) and the Agency Decision Maker to consult if desired.

The child's social worker will send the relevant reports to the Panel Administrator at least 10 working days before the relevant date of the Adoption Panel.

The child's social worker together with his or her manager if appropriate will attend the Panel meeting during consideration of the matter. Where a Children's Guardian has been appointed, consideration should be given to inviting the Children's Guardian to the Panel during consideration of this item.

(N.B. Where the social worker is seeking a recommendation in relation to a proposed placement of the child with particular prospective adopters at the same time, the procedure set out in Section 8, Approval of Matching of Adoption Parents of the Placement for Adoption (Part Two) - Matching and Placing Procedure must also be followed).

The Panel will consider the written reports and any additional information presented verbally. The Panel will make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker. Where the Panel recommends that the child should be placed for adoption, it must consider and may give advice as to future contact arrangements for the child and whether an application for a Placement Order should be made.

The recommendation and advice will be recorded in writing, together with reasons, in the Panel's minutes. A copy of the relevant minute must be held on the child's Adoption Case Record.

For cases which are presented to the Adoption Panel, the final minutes must be produced promptly and agreed by the Panel members and then sent to the Agency Decision Maker, together with the reports considered by the Panel, to allow the decision to be made within seven working days of receipt of the panel's recommendation and final set of panel minutes.

The Agency Decision Maker must record his or her decision in writing, together with reasons.

Where the Agency Decision Maker is minded to disagree with the Panel recommendation, he/she must first discuss the case with another senior officer with relevant experience, who must not be a Panel member. This discussion must be recorded and placed on the child's Adoption Case Record.

3.15

Referral directly to Agency Decision Maker

See paragraph 2.1 for circumstances when the case will be referred to the Adoption Panel, and when the case will be referred directly to the Agency Decision Maker. See Section 6, Agency Decision Maker (ADM) Role and Process of Adoption Panel and Agency Decision Maker's Decision Procedure.

Where cases are to be referred directly to the Agency Decision Maker for a decision, a time should be booked with the Panel Administrator for a slot on ADM Day. This should be a maximum of 2 months from the date when the adoption plan was ratified at the child's Looked After Review. In order for the decision to be made within this timescale, the Agency Decision Maker should be sent the same reports and information as would be submitted to the Adoption Panel, as set out in paragraph 3.14 Presentation to the Adoption Panel.

The child's social worker will send the relevant reports to the Agency Adviser at least 10 working days before the relevant date booked with the Agency Decision Maker.

The Agency Adviser will be responsible for checking the quality of the reports before they are submitted to the Agency Decision Maker.

In making the decision the Agency Decision Maker may discuss the case with the Agency Adviser, Medical Adviser and legal adviser. However, there is no provision for adjourning the decision to allow time for taking advice. NB The Agency Decision Maker is expressly prohibited from referring a case to the Adoption Panel for advice.

The principles of the decision-making should be as set out in Section 6,Agency Decision Maker (ADM) - Role and Process of the Adoption Panel and Agency Decision Maker's Decision Procedure.

3.16

After the Decision

The parents will be informed orally of the agency's decision within two working days and written confirmation should be sent to them within five working days. These arrangements will be made by the Agency Decision Maker in conjunction with the child's social worker.

The letter setting out the agency decision will be sent by recorded delivery, except where delivery by hand has been agreed as appropriate, in which case the letter will be forwarded to the social worker for delivery by hand.

The child's social worker will also ensure that the child is informed of the decision in a timely and age-appropriate way.

In cases where the case has been presented to the Adoption Panel and the decision is different from the Panel's recommendation, a copy of the Panel minute should also be sent to the parents.
3.17 Where the Designated Manager (Placement Orders)has made a decision to seek a Placement Order in relation to the child, the child's social worker should consult Legal Services in order to prepare the Court application. The child's social worker should inform the child's Independent Reviewing Officer of the Court timetable including when the placement application is filed. NB Local authorities cannot make applications for Placement Orders until it has been decided by the Agency Decision Maker that the child is suitable to be placed for adoption.
3.18 Where there is parental consent to the child's adoptive placement and/or advance parental consent to the child's adoption, and the child is more than 6 weeks old, the child's social worker must arrange for a written request to be sent to CAFCASS to appoint an officer to witness the consent. Where there is parental consent to the child's placement and the child is less than 6 weeks old, the social worker should ask the parents to sign a written agreement in the prescribed form to facilitate an early placement.
3.19

The social worker should send to the CAFCASS office closest to the parents' address, a certified copy of the child's birth certificate, the name and address of the parent, a chronology of the actions and decisions made by the local authority and confirmation that the parents have received counselling and written information on the legal implications of giving consent to the placement/adoption.

Where the child lives in Wales, the request should be forwarded to the Welsh National Assembly.

3.20 On receipt of the parent's consent witnessed by the CAFCASS officer, the original must be placed on the child's Adoption Case Record (as it will be required for the future adoption application).


4. Preparation of Child for Adoption

4.1

The child's social worker will ensure that Life Story Work (see Preparing a Child for a Permanent Placement Guidance, Life Story Books Guidance and Later Life Letters Guidance) with the child continues with the aim as far as possible that:

  • The child has an understanding of the reasons for the adoption plan and what adoption will mean;
  • The child has an opportunity to express his or her wishes and feelings about the future; and
  • The child has information on his or her birth family, which is kept safe and provided to the adopters and the child at the appropriate time.

As part of the above, the child will be given a Children's Guide to Adoption as soon as adoption is part of the child's Care Plan. Any information given to the child should be confirmed in writing and any discussions with the child should be fully recorded. The child's preferred method of communication should be known and there should be no assumption that a child is unable to communicate. An interpreter should be arranged where necessary to ensure that there is effective communication with the child.

The social worker should specifically ensure that the child's wishes in relation to adoption, religious and cultural upbringing and contact with his or her birth family are ascertained.

Where a child's wishes are not acted upon, for example a child's wish to be placed with his or her siblings, this should be explained to the child, with reasons, and should be fully recorded.

4.2 The foster carers' supervising social worker will support the foster carers in playing their part in the implementation of the plan, including careful recording by the foster carers of any changes in the child's behaviour. 
4.3

Once an adoptive placement has been identified and approved, the child's social worker is responsible for ensuring the child is properly prepared for the first meeting with the prospective adoptive family and is appropriately counselled during the period of introductions - see Section 2, Planning the Placement of the Placement for Adoption (Part Two) - Matching and Placing.

As part of the preparation of the child for the adoptive placement, information will be provided to ensure that s/he has a proper understanding about the accommodation and others living at the prospective adoptive home, the contact arrangements with the birth family and how to contact his or her social worker.

4.4 The child's social worker will encourage the parents to write a 'Later Life' letter for the child, and to provide information to enable the social worker to write a 'Later Life' letter for the child (to give to the adopters) within 10 working days of adoption ceremony, i.e. the ceremony to celebrate the making of the adoption order.


5. Counselling and Support for Parents

5.1 Both parents must be offered counselling and support irrespective of whether they have Parental Responsibility unless there are exceptional circumstances, in which case legal advice should be taken and the reasons for not arranging counselling recorded.
5.2 It may also be appropriate for members of the extended family to receive counselling or support, where they have played a significant role in the child's life.
5.3 The child's social worker must explain to both parents (including a parent without Parental Responsibility) the reasons for the adoption plan and the key stages of the adoption process, including the likely time-scales and possible contact arrangements; in addition the social worker should provide them with written information on the adoption process covering the areas set out in paragraph 5.8 a) to g), l) and m) below and this should be recorded.
5.4

If either or both of the birth parents refuse to accept or do not receive the written information, this should be recorded, including the reasons, on the child's case file and Adoption Case Record.

Where the parents' address is known, the child's social worker should personally deliver or arrange for delivery by hand of a copy of the information to the address and record this on the Adoption Case Record.

5.5 The child's social worker must also seek to ascertain the parent's views on the matters set out in paragraph 5.8, h) and k) below and offer to arrange independent support for both birth parents (including unmarried fathers). The purpose of the support is to ensure that the alternatives to adoption have been explored and the implications of adoption fully discussed. It also offers the parents the opportunity to express their views in relation to the plans for the child, and to be involved in planning for the child's future wherever possible. Where the offer of support is accepted, the social worker should make the necessary arrangements for a referral for independent support to be made.
5.6 The support may need to be provided by a specialist worker, for example where the parent has poor mental health or learning disabilities. If so, the social worker should ensure that an appropriate resource is identified.
5.7 The specific needs of parents arising from their ethnicity must always be taken into account. An interpreter must be arranged where English is not their preferred language.
5.8

The counselling and support will cover the following areas:

  1. Explaining the key stages of the adoption process and likely time-scales;
  2. Explaining, where appropriate, the procedure for seeking a Placement Order;
  3. Explaining the parents' legal rights, including the right of the unmarried father to seek a Parental Responsibility Order or a Child Arrangements Order in relation to the child;
  4. Explaining the role of the Adoption Panel/Agency Decision Maker;
  5. Explaining the role of CAFCASS in witnessing consent or acting as the Children's Guardian;
  6. Explaining the way the Adoption Contact Register works and how an adopted adult may seek information about the birth family in the future or register a wish not to be contacted;
  7. Explaining how prospective adoptive parents are assessed;
  8. Ascertaining the parents' views on the adoption plan, including the selection of the adoptive family, any specific ethnic, cultural or religious needs of the child, and any plan to separate a sibling group. Their views on these issues should be recorded;
  9. Dealing with grief and loss;
  10. Where there is parental consent to the adoption, explaining the process for giving their written consent to an adoptive placement or advance consent to the adoption (including the role of CAFCASS), their right to state that they do not wish to be informed of an adoption application, and that they have the right to withdraw their consent to an adoptive placement at any time up to the making of an adoption application, but the restriction of their rights to do so after an adoption application has been made;
  11. Ascertaining the parents' views on post-placement and post-adoption contact including whether they would wish to meet the adoptive family and if so, how they might prepare for this;
  12. Providing information to the parents on national and local support groups, and other possible sources of help;
  13. Explaining how the parents may be able to provide information to be passed to adopters, for example, on the child's birth and early life, which may be of benefit to the child;
5.9 The parents should be encouraged to seek legal advice particularly where they are opposed to the adoption plan. Where there is an unmarried father without Parental Responsibility, the social worker should also ascertain if he intends to apply for a Parental Responsibility Order and a Child Arrangements Order.
5.10 The parents and their solicitors, if appropriate, must be sent copies of any written consents and/or recording of their views.
5.11 Where the parents refuse or decline to accept counselling and/or support, the child's social worker must record the attempts made to persuade the parents and the reasons for their refusal in the child's file and Adoption Case Record.
5.12 Where the parents are seeking to have an expected child adopted, the counselling must start before the baby's birth. In addition, the child's social worker must cover practical tasks such as the arrangements for the birth, the parents' own contact with the child after the birth, the intended length of the mother's hospital stay and their wishes regarding the timing of the placement. After the child's birth, the counselling and support must continue. The social worker should then confirm with the parents that they still wish to pursue adoption for the child.
5.13 The social worker should arrange for photographs to be taken of the child and, if they agree, the parents and other significant people and places, for inclusion in the child's Life Story Book.


6. Child's Adoption Medical

6.1 As soon as the adoption plan becomes part of the child's Care Plan, the child's social worker should write to the Medical Adviser regarding an adoption medical for the child. The Medical Adviser should be asked for advice on whether a full developmental medical is required and if so, who should conduct the medical and whether any tests or opinions are required. (In some cases, the Medical Adviser may consider that there is already sufficient up-to-date health information on the child and a further medical examination is not required).
6.2 The child's social worker should send the Forms B and M (requesting an obstetric report on the mother and neo-natal report on the child) to the hospital social work team (if one exists at the hospital where the child was born) or the Hospital Administrator with a request that the Form be completed and returned to the social worker. Where the child was born at home, the Form should be sent to the mother's GP.
6.3

The child's social worker should write to the Medical Adviser requesting a medical for the child and at the same time inform the Medical Adviser when Forms B and M were requested.

The procedure needs to be started without delay so that the adoption medical can be arranged; the adoption medical must take place before the child's plan for adoption is considered by the Adoption Panel and/or by the Agency Decision Maker, (unless the Medical Adviser has advised it unnecessary - see paragraph 6.1 above). In cases which are presented to the Panel for consideration of whether the child is suitable to be placed for adoption (see paragraph 3.1), the Medical Adviser must be in a position to advise the Panel/Agency Decision Maker of the child's health needs.
6.4 The child's social worker must seek the cooperation of both birth parents to provide written consent to the disclosure of medical information if this has not already been provided, including obtaining their consent to the Medical Adviser approaching their GP if necessary, as well as obtaining their written consent to the obstetric report on the mother and neo-natal report on the child.
6.5 The importance of the disclosure of medical information must be explained to the parents but where the parents refuse to sign consent forms, the social worker must complete as much as possible on the relevant forms, record the attempts made to engage the parents and the reasons for refusal in the child's file and Adoption Case Record, and inform the Medical Adviser of the position.
6.6 In cases which are not presented to the Panel for consideration of whether the child is suitable to be placed for adoption (see paragraph 3.1) and expert reports have been filed with the court that are relevant to the child’s health, consideration should be given to whether to seek a specific direction from the court allowing the report to be disclosed to the Medical Adviser for comment.
6.7 The child's social worker should send the relevant age-appropriate BAAF Form for completion after the medical.
6.8 The foster carer should attend the medical with the child and, if appropriate, the child's social worker should also attend.
6.9 The information on the child's medical report must be kept up to date if a placement is not immediately forthcoming. This must be done twice yearly for a child aged below 2 and annually for a child of 2 and above. The Medical Adviser may, however, make specific recommendations in relation to particular children.


7. Post-placement Contact with Birth Family and Any Previous Foster Carers

7.1 The child's social worker must undertake a written assessment as to the best interests of the child to support any contact proposals as part of an adoption plan, or reasons why no contact is recommended. This assessment will take account of the views of the child, the parents, the foster carers and any other significant family members, as well as evidence of attachment and the quality of relationships, based on observations of contact and the child's behaviour before, during and after contact.
7.2 Where there is a sibling group, each child must be assessed separately and together as a group.
7.3 The assessment should determine whether post-placement and post-adoption contact between the child and the parents and/or siblings would be in the child's best interests, and if so, what form it should take. The nature and frequency of contact will be influenced by the need to maintain attachments and/or long-term identity issues.
7.4

Post-placement and post-adoption contact may take the following forms:

  1. Adoptive parents providing non-identifying information about the child to the birth family through letter-box contact organised and maintained by the adoption service (one way indirect contact);
  2. Adoptive parents and the birth family sharing non-identifying information about themselves through letter-box contact organised and maintained by the adoption service (two way indirect contact);
  3. Direct letter box and/or telephone contact between the adoptive parents and the birth family;
  4. Direct face-to-face contact between the child and the birth family, which may be organised and maintained by the adoption service, where such continuing support is appropriate.
7.5 Any proposed post-placement and post-adoption contact should be in line with any Court Orders.
7.6 Where post-placement and post-adoption contact is considered to be in the child's interests, it should be part of the information shared with prospective adoptive parents during the matching process - see Section 8, Identification of Adoptive Parents (including Inter Agency Placements) and also part of the planning of the placement - see Section 2, Planning the Placement of the Placement for Adoption (Part Two) - Matching and Placing Procedure.
7.7

If the child is to move from a foster placement to an adoptive placement  the Linking Meeting will establish clear arrangements for any contact between the child and the foster carers, after the move. The child, prospective adopters and  foster carers will be fully aware of these. This plan will be reviewed at the first Adoption Review meeting.

Any such contact must be shaped by the need of the child to feel as secure as possible, whilst given the space to develop new attachments with the adoptive parents, and recognising the much more limited role a foster parent actually will have in the child’s future.

Contact is likely to consist of photographs, and small keepsakes. For a very young child something (e.g. a scarf) with the foster carer’s scent may be of comfort initially. In the first few weeks telephone contact is often appropriate, reducing over a defined time to no direct contact. In the first year birthday and festival cards may be appropriate, but it may also be appropriate to have this as a time limited contact.

The arrangements must be in the Permanence Plan and the Introductions Plan before introductions commence.  Where there are specific identified needs transition work should also be agreed before introductions commence.

See The Purpose of Contact in Permanence Procedure.


8. Identification of Adoptive Parents (including Inter Agency Placements)

The overall time-scale for matching a child with a prospective adoptive family is:

  • The match is to be identified, recommended by the Adoption Panel and approved within 6 months of the agency's formal approval that the child is suitable to be placed for adoption, except in the following cases;
    • Where a parent requests adoption for a child of less than six months of age, the match is to be identified, recommended by the Adoption Panel and approved within 3 months of the agency's formal approval that the child is suitable to be placed for adoption.
8.1

Following the identification of the family finder (see paragraph 3.1), the timing of the start of the family finding will depend on the legal position and be agreed between the child's social worker and the family finder.

The children’s meeting, held weekly by the Head of Adoption and Fostering, and Adoption Managers will review every child’s progress to avoid drift.

8.2

The child's social worker and the family finder will address the following issues:

  1. The preparation of the child's profile and to identify any other information about the child, which is needed in order to identify a suitable family;
  2. To consider who should undertake the preparation of the child, and to determine how the child may be involved in and express views about the process of finding a family;
  3. To discuss parental involvement in the placement process (and parental consent to advertising, if applicable);
  4. To agree that the social worker will keep Legal Services informed of developments and seek the Court's leave to advertising where Court proceedings are ongoing;
  5. To consider whether or not the child's current carer would be appropriate as a prospective permanent placement - if so, see paragraph 8.12;
  6. To plan the family finding work, giving consideration to the availability of in-house approved families, the opportunity of an inter-agency placement, and advertising for families in the national, local and ethnic media. To agree time-scales for the family finding work including the holding of progress meetings.

    The child's social worker, current foster carer and the family finder will complete the child's profile, identifying the child's needs in relation to a new family, including ethnicity, culture, religion, language, contact with birth family and existing networks, education, health, other special needs and location, and the qualities required in the adoptive family, based on the child's identified placement needs. The profile should identify which needs are essential and which preferred.

    Where the profile indicates the child should not be placed locally, there should also be a written risk assessment to support this conclusion.
8.3

The family finder will consider whether there are any potentially suitable in-house approved families (including families going through the assessment process) by sharing the child's profile with the Adoption Service and reading copies of any available Prospective Adopter's Reports.

Where foster carers express an interest in adopting a child placed with them, see paragraph 8.12.

8.4 Where there are potentially suitable in-house approved families indicating an interest, the family's adoption link worker will visit to clarify whether they wish to be considered. In complex cases, the child's social worker will accompany the link worker to enable specific issues to be discussed.
8.5

Where suitable in-house approved adoptive families are available, the family finder will arrange a Selection Meeting involving the child's social worker, the social worker's manager, supervising social worker for foster carer, and the adoption link workers for the potential families. The Adoption Service Manager or his/her nominee will chair the meeting. The Prospective Adopters’ Report (PAR) will be provided to invitees. Draft CSF 4032 Selection Reports prepared by the Adoption Service, are circulated to attendees for consideration prior to the meeting. 

The Adoption link worker should provide all invitees to the meeting with the minutes of the Adoption Panel approving the adopters, and the Approval Profile form.

8.6

The Selection Meeting considers the available in-house approved potential families, and decide which appears the best able to meet the child's needs. The meeting should also consider:

  • The preparation of the child, the present carers and the prospective adopters for the proposed placement, including the sharing of information with the prospective adopters;
  • The preparation of the birth family and the information to be given;
  • The allocation of preparatory tasks for the introductory work;
  • The proposed Adoption Support Plan and any proposed contact arrangements;
  • The designated roles and responsibilities for completing the Adoption Placement Report and the proposed Adoption Support Plan;
  • It may be appropriate for the child’ social worker and the adopter(s)’ social worker to meet the prospective adopters, (who will have received the CPR and Medical Form IHA-C/ and Annex to Form C or D) prior to a decision being made;
  • The meeting should be recorded on the Selection Report CSF4304. It should record whether the parents’ wishes have been possible, and if not why not.
8.7 The relevant adoption link workers for the family/families concerned will inform the selected family and the unsuccessful families of the decision, together with reasons, on the same day as the meeting. They will also offer follow up discussions as required.
8.8

Ethnicity must not be placed above everything else when identifying potential adopters for children.

It is unacceptable for a child to be denied adoptive parents solely on the grounds that the child and prospective adopter do not share the same racial or cultural background.

If a prospective adopter can meet most of the child's needs, but, for example they do not share the child's racial or cultural background, the core issue is what qualities, experiences and attributes the prospective adopter can draw on and their level of understanding of the discrimination and racism the child may be confronted with when growing up.
8.9 The family finder will provide the selected prospective adopters with full information on the child, including the Child's Permanence Report, the child's profile, a full description of the birth family including any siblings and the reasons for any decision to place the child separately, the child's medical history (including the birth details), the carer's report on the child, the current school reports and the child's PEP. The items provided should be clearly recorded and the prospective adopters should be asked to sign confirmation of receipt of this information.
8.10

The family finder should also arrange to meet the prospective adopters, with the child's social worker (and carer if appropriate), to give any further information to them and ensure they have a clear picture of the child and understand fully the implications of the information they have received. In appropriate cases, the prospective adopters should have the opportunity to meet other specialists involved with the child, for example the Medical Adviser. Photographs may be shared at this stage.

8.11 If there are no suitable in-house prospective or approved adoptive carers who can meet the child's identified essential needs, the adoption worker must explore inter-agency options.
8.12

Where foster carers express an interest in adopting a child they are looking after, and there is an adoption plan for the child, the family finder will talk to them about the implications of adoption and will convene a Selection Meeting involving the child's social worker, his or her line manager and the foster carers' supervising social worker (with his or her line manager where appropriate). The chair of the meeting will be the Adoption Service Manager or his/her nominee. If the outcome of the meeting is that the foster carers appear to be able to meet the child's essential needs, the case will be allocated for an assessment of the foster carers as adopters to proceed (see Assessment and Approval of Adoptive Adopters Procedure).

If they are approved as adopters, the requirements set out in Section 8, Approval of Matching of Adoptive Parents of the Placement for Adoption (Part Two) - Matching and Placing Procedure as to the approval of the matching and in Section 2, The Placement of the Placement for Adoption (Part Two) - Matching and Placing Procedure as to the provision of information and notification of the placement must be followed.

If the outcome of the meeting is that the foster carers are not able to meet the child's essential needs, the recruitment of adopters as set out in the preceding and following paragraphs of this chapter will apply. The foster carers' supervising worker will provide support and counselling to the foster carers as appropriate.

If the foster carers decide to proceed with an application to adopt the child without the agreement of the agency, the procedure set out in Non-Agency Adoptions will apply.

8.13

Inter Agency Placements

The Adoption Service Manager will ensure that consideration is given to all options for placement which will include referrals to the Regional Consortium, Adoption Register and other inter agency placements (for example through publicity in the specialist or wider press) according to the identified needs of the child.

Where it is considered that a placement of the child with overseas adopters would be appropriate, see Section 5, Adoptive Placements Abroad of the Placement for Adoption (Part Two) - Matching and Placing Procedure.

8.14

Where recruitment of adopters from another agency has been authorised, the family finder will undertake the following:

  • Check that either the parents (for an Accommodated child) and/or the child's social worker's manager have signed the Consent to Publicity Form and/or the Court's leave has been granted where Court proceedings are ongoing;
  • Arrange for professional photographs to be taken of the child for publicity purposes;
  • Agree with the child's social worker which publications are to be used for publicity purposes, and draw up suitable profiles.
8.15 Other members of the Adoption Service as well as the child's social worker should be made aware of the dates of the publicity and a response to callers should be agreed.
8.16

Responses from families not yet approved should be dealt with as follows:

  1. Take details of the family;
  2. Give limited, anonymised information about the child, in order to help the caller decide whether this is a situation they wish to pursue;
  3. Give general information about the adoption and family finding process, bearing in mind that the caller has not gone through the assessment and preparation process;
  4. Arrange a more appropriate time to hold or continue the discussion, as appropriate;
  5. If, on the basis of the discussions held, it is not considered appropriate, having regard to the needs of the child, to pursue the response, the caller should be advised of the decision, with reasons, and provided with contact details of other agencies which may be of help to them.
8.17

Responses from already approved families should be dealt with as follows:

  1. Take details of the family;
  2. Give limited, anonymised information about the child, in order to help the caller decide whether this is a situation they wish to pursue;
  3. Give general information about how the family finding is being conducted, bearing in mind that the family's own agency may approach this in a different way;
  4. If, on the basis of the discussions held, it is not considered appropriate, having regard to the needs of the child, to pursue the response, the caller should be advised of the decision, with reasons;
  5. If the family is considered suitable, their details and the names of their agency and link worker should be taken. The family should be asked to inform their link worker of their approach to the borough and that the family finder will contact the link worker;
  6. The family finder should then contact the family's link worker and share information about the child and the family. Where it is considered that the match is not appropriate, the family's link worker should be asked to discuss this with the family and the family finder need take no further action;
  7. If it is considered that the link should be pursued, the adoptive family's link worker and the family finder should agree to exchange the Prospective Adopter's Report and the Child's Permanence Report, with a follow up discussion after they have been read.

    The family finder should also forward to the adoptive family's link worker information about the agency's adoption support;
  8. The adoptive family's link worker may wish to visit the family to go through the Child's Permanence Report, and should be asked to indicate as soon as possible whether or not the family wish to proceed.
8.18 The procedure outlined in paragraphs 8.4 to 8.8 above will then be followed and the child's social worker and family finder will visit potential families prior to a Matching Meeting being held.

The Selection and Matching Process

Once a suitable match has been identified, (whether with in-house approved adopters, inter agency or a foster carer approved as an adopter), the child's social worker, prospective adopters' link worker and the family finder should prepare an Adoption Placement Report and a proposed Adoption Support Plan giving details of the family recommended, evaluating how this family may meet the child's needs and setting out the proposed adoption support services to be offered to the child, adoptive family and birth family. This will include including the support to be provided to the prospective adopters to promote the child's educational achievements and participation in leisure activities; to help the child develop positive relationships; and to manage any challenging behaviour which the child may display, The support plan will also include arrangements for contact including how to deal with unauthorised or unmediated contact through online social networking sites. For further information, please see Adoption Support Procedure.

The Adoption Placement Report must be written by a qualified social worker with suitable experience (see Adoption Panel and Agency Decision Maker's Decision Procedure) and must include the prospective adopter's views on the proposed placement, contact arrangements (including meeting with the birth parents), adoption support and any proposed restrictions on their exercise of Parental Responsibility after the placement.

8.19 The child's social worker, family finder, the prospective adopters' link worker and their respective managers should sign both documents.
8.20 The family finder should also contact the Panel Administrator to arrange a date for the Adoption Panel to consider the proposed placement.
8.21 The child's social worker will keep the parents and child informed of progress (unless the parent has stated that he or she do not wish to be kept informed).
8.22

The family finder should provide a copy of the Adoption Placement Report to the prospective adopters and give 10 working days to them to submit any written comments on its contents, or ask them to sign a disclaimer if they do not require the full 10 working days. A copy of the signed disclaimer should be held on the child's Adoption Case Record.

A meeting of the child’s foster parents and the prospective adopters should be arranged (preferably at a neutral venue) before the Matching Panel. The child’s social worker, the Adopter(s)’s social worker and possibly the foster carer’s supervising social worker should attend.

When the adopter(s) are clear they wish to proceed they should:

  • Sign a Matching Agreement CSF3975;
  • See the Adoption Placement Report, comment and sign, so this may go to the Matching Panel;
  • Write to the Adoption Panel explaining why they consider they are the right match and how they can meet this child’s needs.


9. Adoption Register

The child's name will go on the Adoption Register, if appropriate, either once a Placement Order has been made and adoption has been agreed by the court or following the decision by the decision maker providing consent from the parents has been obtained. If no locally identified match is being pursued at the latest by 3 months after the agency decision maker has decided that the child should be placed for adoption the child's details must be passed to the Adoption Register (AMNS 2011) Forms can be accessed in Compass here. If the child is of sufficient age and understanding, the Adoption Register should be discussed with them and their consent obtained. A leaflet on this is available from the Adoption Team (Responsibility - Child's Social Worker).

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