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8.6b Placement for Adoption (Part Two) - Matching and Placing

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

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Note this chapter is to be updated in line with Statutory Guidance issued June 2012 at Statutory guidance on adoption: Adoption panels.

AMENDMENT

In March 2014, a new Section 3, Contact with Previous Foster Carers for Children Placed in Adoptive Placements, was added to this chapter.


Contents

  1. Approval of Matching of Adoptive Parents
  2. Planning the Placement 
  3. Contact with Previous Foster Carers for Children Placed in Adoptive Placement
  4. The Placement
  5. Children Approved for Adoption for Whom no Placement has been Identified
  6. Adoptive Placements Abroad


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The Statutory Guidance on Adoption July 2013 states:

If the prospective adopter can meet most of the child’s needs, the social worker must not delay placing a child with the prospective adopter because they are single, older than other adopters or does not share the child’s racial or cultural background.


1. Approval of Matching of Adoptive Parents

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

  • The match is to be recommended by the Adoption Panel within 6 months of the agency's formal approval that the child should 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 recommended by the Adoption Panel within 3 months of the agency's formal approval that the child should be placed for adoption.

Where these timescales are not met, the Adoption Panel should record the reasons.

1.1

Presentation to the Adoption Panel

The family finder must present the following reports to the Adoption Panel:

  1. A front sheet stating what is being reported, the reports included, recommendations sought and who will be attending Adoption Panel;
  2. The Child's Permanence Report (with an update medical report no more than 6 months old);
  3. The Prospective Adopter's Report, updated as necessary, on the identified prospective adopters and a recent medical (in the last 2 years) including the Approval Profile Form;
  4. The Adoption Placement Report;
  5. The proposed Adoption Support Plan;
  6. The proposals regarding post-placement and post-adoption contact;
  7. The views of the prospective adopters on the Prospective Adopter's Report and the proposed contact arrangements;
  8. CSF3975 The Matching Agreement.
Also see Panel Papers required by Adoption Panels considering Matching. Note CSF4158 Addendum to Prospective Adopters Assessment Report.
1.2 The Panel Administrator will arrange for the Panel minutes in relation to the recommendations that the child should be placed for adoption and, where in-house approved, that the prospective adopters are suitable to be adopters, to be circulated to Panel members, with the reports. Where there is a proposed inter-agency placement, the family finder will obtain the relevant Panel minutes for circulation.
1.3 The child's social worker, the family finder and the prospective adopters' link worker will attend the Adoption Panel 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.
1.4 The Adoption Panel's recommendation as to whether the child should be placed for adoption with the particular prospective adopters will be recorded in writing, together with reasons, in the Panel's minutes. The Panel must also consider and may give advice in relation to the proposed adoption support, the proposed arrangements for contact and any proposed restrictions on the exercise of Parental Responsibility by the prospective adopters and/or the birth parents. A copy of the relevant minute must be placed on the child's and the prospective adopters' Adoption Case Records.
1.5 The prospective adopters' link worker will convey the Panel's recommendation orally to the prospective adopters within 24 hours.
1.6

After the Panel has considered the reports and made a written recommendation, the minute and reports considered by the Panel will be sent to the Agency Decision Maker who will make a decision based on this information within 7 working days of the Panel meeting. In urgent cases, for example where the Court timetable requires it, this timescale should be reduced to 5 working days. The decision will be recorded in writing.

If the Panel has given advice in relation to adoption support, proposed contact and/or the exercise of Parental Responsibility by the prospective adopters and/or the birth parents, the Agency Decision Maker may express a view on such advice.

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 and the prospective adopter's Adoption Case Record.
1.7 The child's social worker will convey the decision orally to the parents within 2 working days. The child should be informed of the decision both verbally (within 48 hours) and in writing and be helped to understand what happens next.
1.8 The prospective adopters' link worker will convey the decision orally to the prospective adopters within 2 working days.
1.9 The Panel Administrator will prepare written notification of the decision to be signed by the Agency Decision Maker and once signed, sent to the child's social worker for sending by recorded or hand delivery to the parents within 5 working days.
1.10 The Panel Administrator will send the written notification, signed by the Agency Decision Maker, to the prospective adopters' link worker for sending to the adopters within 5 working days. Copies of this letter will also be sent to the family finder and the child's social worker.


2. Planning the Placement

2.1 Once the matching has been approved and the legal position allows it, the family finder will convene a Placement Planning Meeting, no sooner than 7 working days after the Matching Panel recommendation, to draw up an Adoption Placement Plan CSF3957, confirming the details of the introductions, placement and post-placement work. The Adoption Service Manager or his/her nominee will chair the meeting.
2.2 For inter agency placements, a separate meeting will also be required, involving the Adoption Service Manager or his/her nominee, to complete BAAF Form H1 which details the contract between the agencies and the adoptive family in relation to the placement.
2.3

The purpose of the first Placement Planning Meeting is to draw up a proposed Adoption Placement Plan, the content of which leads the agenda. The Adoption Placement Plan should include:

  • Whether the placement is to be made under a Placement Order or with parental consent;
  • The proposed date of the placement, who will be present when the placement takes place;
  • The Adoption Support Plan 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;
  • Whether and how the exercise of Parental Responsibility by the prospective adopters and/or the birth parents is to be restricted, including the delegation of decision making to the prospective adopters about the child's health needs and under what circumstances consent to medical treatment needs to be obtained;
  • The arrangements for the monitoring and supervision of the placement (including contact details of key support staff during office hours and out of hours);
  • The date when the life story book and any Later Life letters will be passed to the prospective adopters (usually within 10 working days of the adoption ceremony, i.e. the ceremony to celebrate the making of the adoption order);
  • The date and arrangements for the first Adoption Review;
  • Any post-placement contact between the child and members of his or her birth family and/or the child and the foster carers; and
  • Clarification of who will make the necessary notifications of the placement (see Section 4, The Placement);
  • See Section 3, Contact with Previous Foster Carers for Children placed in Adoptive Placement.

It will also set out the steps required leading up to the child's placement with the prospective adopters, including the first meeting between the child and the prospective adoptive family, the programme of and detailed arrangements for their introductions (dates, times, venues, transport and accommodation), the reimbursement of any expenses of the introductions, any other financial assistance to enable the placement to occur and, where appropriate, a meeting between the parents and the prospective adopters.

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.

Introductions are an intense period for the child, the prospective adopters and the foster carers. Occasionally stresses in the relationship between the foster carers and prospective adopters develop. Professionals and the managers of the three social work teams must have an open discourse, and if necessary a meeting to consider any emerging issues and resolving them.
2.4 The Adoption Placement Plan will also address when the prospective adopters will be supplied with all relevant written information about the child and who will provide it (for a full list of information to be supplied - see Section 4, The Placement).
2.5 The child's social worker must ascertain the child's views and report these to the meetings.
2.6 Those attending Placement Planning Meetings will be the child's social worker, his/her manager as appropriate, the foster carers, the foster carers' supervising social worker, the family finder (minute taker), representatives of the health trust (where appropriate), the prospective adopters and their link worker, and any other worker engaged in direct work with the child.
2.7

The child's first meeting with the prospective adopters should be on the child's familiar territory (unless the child is older and requests otherwise) and a social worker should be present. The pattern of introductory visits thereafter will depend on the child's age, needs and stage of development but consideration will be given to a gradual introductory programme involving visits increasing in length, progressing to an overnight stay, a weekend stay and in exceptional circumstances with an older child, a longer period prior to the final move. The adopters should confirm with their social worker that they wish to proceed after the first meeting, and if the child is old enough, his or her social worker should seek their wishes and feelings about being ready to proceed with introductions.

The Adopter(s)’s social worker should activate any financial support by means of memo CSF3984, countersigned by Head of Adoption and Fostering.
2.8

The family finder will be responsible for coordinating Placement Planning Meetings. However, all workers involved must be clear about their respective roles and responsibilities in the implementation of the plan, and what should happen in the event of difficulties. Changes to the Adoption Placement Plan can only be made with the agreement of the family finder or the Chair of the meeting and must be notified to the prospective adopters in writing.

The child's social worker is expected to be in regular and frequent contact with the child, foster carer and prospective adopter during the period of the introductions and all involved share information with each other on a regular basis, at the frequency identified at the Placement Planning Meetings. The Adoption Placement Plan will then be reviewed at an agreed date. The Plan will identify the named workers and when they will have contact with the child.
2.9 The child's social worker will advise the parents of the plan whilst maintaining the confidentiality of the placement (unless the parent has stated that he or she does not wish to be kept informed).
2.10

At the mid-point of the introductions, a second Placement Planning Meeting will be held, at which the following areas will be addressed:

  1. The progress of the introductions - has the necessary action identified at the previous meeting been taken, and the plan been followed? - If not, why not?
  2. The views of each participant as to the above;
  3. The identification of the positives;
  4. The identification of any difficulties;
  5. The development of the next stage of the plan;
  6. The finalisation of the arrangements for the placement.
For very young children and in certain circumstances this may be achieved by more informal methods.
2.11 A further meeting can be called by any of the parties if issues of concern arise.
2.12 All Placement Planning Meetings should have the same people invited and take place at a venue accessible to all parties.
2.13 Where the child is to be adopted by his or her foster carers, whilst there will be no need for a plan for introductions, the social worker should still convene a Placement Planning Meeting, in order to draw up the Adoption Placement Plan to cover the areas other than introductions as set out above and to specify the date when the placement is to be regarded as an adoptive placement.
2.14 A copy of the final Adoption Placement Plan, signed by the child's social worker, should be given to the prospective adopters, their link worker and the child's Independent Reviewing Officer. The prospective adopters must confirm in writing that they wish the placement to proceed and that they agree to the Adoption Placement Plan. A copy must be retained on the child's Adoption Case Record.
2.15

Where contact is part of the adoption plan, the proposals must be drawn up in written agreements to be signed by the birth parents and the prospective adoptive parents. The agreements must specify the form and timing of the contact and the arrangements for putting the contact in place. The agreements must also specify that the arrangements may change dependent upon the wishes of the child. The agreement should also include how the prospective adopters should deal with unauthorised or unmediated contact through online social networking sites. All parties must sign and retain copies of the agreement. The parent's copy should not reveal any identifying information about the placement.

If the birth parents or other members of the birth family have asked to meet the adoptive parents, a meeting should be arranged at a neutral venue as soon as possible.
2.16

If the Adoption Placement Plan is varied or terminated:

The child must be informed in a timely and age appropriate way;

  • Direct work will be undertaken with the child to make sense of the reasons why the placement broke down and to prepare the child for any future placement;
  • The parents must be informed (unless the parent has stated that he or she does not wish to be kept informed;
  • The IRO must be informed and convene a review between 28 days and 42 days after disruption;
  • The Adoption Service Manager should consider the best way to conduct a disruption meeting - see Disruption of Adoptive Placement Procedure;
  • The child's social worker and family finder must re-start the process of identifying a suitable prospective adoptive family or amend the plan for the child (depending on the outcome of the Disruption Meeting).


3. Contact with Previous Foster Carers for Children Placed in Adoptive Placement

It is an exciting and also an emotional event when children move from a fostering to an adoptive placement. Children, foster carers and adoptive parents are supported by clarity about the contact arrangements between the foster carers and the child, after they have moved to the adoptive placement.

This plan is to be established at the Placement Planning Meeting and reviewed at the first Adoption Review meeting.

Any 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 Placement Plan before introductions commence. Where there are specific identified needs transition work should also be agreed before introductions commence.


4. The Placement

4.1 Once the matching of the child has been approved, the adoption agency has authority to place the child (either through a Placement Order or Parental Consent), the plan of introductions has been successfully completed and the Adoption Placement Plan has been completed and signed by all parties, the placement can go ahead. A social worker must be present when the placement takes place.
4.2

Prior to the placement, the child's social worker must ensure that all the following information/items have been provided to the prospective adopters:

  1. Authority to consent to medical and dental treatment;
  2. The parent-held Child Health Record;
  3. Any letters, photographs or mementos from the birth family, including a 'Later in Life' letter from the birth parent if possible, and the Life Story Book;
  4. The child's birth certificate;
  5. The child's passport (if applicable);
  6. A copy of the Care Order (if applicable), Placement Order (if applicable) and any other Court Orders that exist;
  7. A copy of the Parental Consent to the Placement and Advance Consent to Adoption (if applicable);
  8. A written plan of the contact arrangements pre and post adoption with the birth parents and any previous carers;
  9. The Adoption Support Plan, including a named post-adoption social worker;
  10. The Adoption Placement Plan including arrangements for support and visits by the child's social worker and their own social worker;
  11. Any other relevant information, including specialist reports (subject to the author's consent).

The prospective adopters should be asked to sign confirmation of receipt. Where the information/items are provided at different times, the prospective adopters must sign and date confirmation of receipt on each occasion.

S15 of ANMS 2011 requires that adopters receive full information about any adoption support services to be provided; advice is given about available benefits and employee rights to leave and pay and that assistance is given with any cross boundary issues. Commissioning arrangements are to be underpinned by a written agreement. All Adopters should be advised to apply to the Inland Revenue for Child Benefit, supported by a letter from the social worker (see CSF3962).

For the child S18 of ANMS 2011 requires that the Children’s Guide to Adoption Support is provided to the child by the Adoption Agency or Adoption Support Agency and that this is a form which is appropriate to the child’s age and understanding.
4.3 Prior to the placement, notification must be sent by the worker identified in the Adoption Placement Plan to the present and new GP, CSF3960 Notification of Adoption Placement to GP, the local authority (where the adoptive family live outside the borough), the relevant Health Trust and, if the child is at nursery or of school age, the relevant local education authority (with information about the child's education history and whether the child has special needs). CSF3961 Notification of Adoption Placement to Out of County LA/Health Trust or Educational Authority and CSF Notification of Adoption Placement to Child Health Systems. These notifications are still required where the prospective adopters were previously the child's foster carers.
4.4 Prior to the placement, the Medical Adviser should be requested to send a medical report on the child to the child's new GP and, in appropriate cases, to meet the adopters to discuss medical issues.
4.5 Where the child's foster carers are the prospective adopters, the adoption service must confirm in writing to them the date from which the placement becomes an adoptive placement.
4.6 The child's social worker must inform the parents of the date of the placement, unless the parents have stated that they do not wish to be kept informed. No identifying information about the placement should be conveyed to birth parents or relatives.
4.7 The child's social worker should ensure the date of the placement is recorded, so that the records identifies that the child is placed for adoption but does not show the placement address. S/he should send the adoptive parents CSF4163 Letters to Adopters - New Placement.
4.8 The family finder will inform the Panel Administrator of the date of the placement as soon as it is made and inform the relevant finance officer where the Adoption Support Plan includes financial support so that payments can start.
4.9 The child’s social worker should notify the Child Benefit Agency of the placement, immediately after it has been made. CSF3963 Notification of Adoption Placement to Child Benefit Agency.


5. Children Approved for Adoption for Whom no Placement has been Identified

5.1 The child will be the subject of regular Adoption Reviews, chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer - see Adoption Reviews Procedure.
5.2 In all cases, where a child has been approved for adoption but not placed within 6 months, the child's social worker must present a further report to the Adoption Panel identifying the length of the delay, the reasons and the steps being taken to address any difficulties, including consideration of a review of the adoption plan and/or a possible change to long-term fostering/separation of siblings.
5.3 The Adoption Panel may request an earlier progress report on an individual case when first considering the child.
5.4 The outcome of any reviews by the Adoption Panel should be notified to the child (if old enough), the birth parents (in appropriate cases) and any other relevant person.
5.5 The child's details should be passed to the Adoption Register if no locally identified match is being actively pursued at the latest by 3 months after the decision by the Agency Decision Maker that the child should be placed for adoption.


6. Adoptive Placements Abroad

Where an adoptive placement outside the UK appears to be a viable option, and consultation with the child (if old enough) supports this, the proposal must be considered at a child's Looked After Review before becoming part of the child's Care Plan.

The child may be considered for an adoptive placement with known prospective adopters in which case it will be for the adoption agency to satisfy itself that the prospective adopters are suitable to adopt the child. Otherwise, the child may be referred to the Department for Education for a suitable linking to be identified, (see below).

In either circumstance, the case must be referred to the Adoption Panel in accordance with Section 1 of this procedure, seeking a formal recommendation that adoption outside the UK is in the best interests of the child. The Child's Permanence Report must include an assessment of the possibility of placing the child for adoption in the British Isles and consideration of whether adoption of the child by a person in a particular country would be in the best interests of the child.

The Agency Decision Maker must consider the recommendation and decide whether the child should be placed for adoption overseas. The notification to the child (if old enough) and the parents must include an explanation of the placement possibilities in the British Isles and abroad.

Where a decision is made to pursue the option of placement overseas, the child's social worker should consult with Legal Services about the legal process, and seek the approval of the Designated Manager (Placement Orders) to an application for a Placement Order.

Where no Prospective Adopters have been Identified

Where such a decision is made to place the child overseas, the child's social worker must notify the Department for Education of the following:

  1. The child's file reference number;
  2. The child's name;
  3. The child's date of birth;
  4. The gender of the child;
  5. The reasons why the decision has been made that adoption outside the UK may be suitable for the child;
  6. The date of any Placement Order.

The Department for Education maintains a list of children waiting for inter country adoption.

If a decision is made after the child's name is placed on the list that an overseas adoptive placement is no longer appropriate, the child's social worker must inform the Department for Education so that the child's details are removed from the list.

Where the Department for Education receive an application from a foreign country, it will check that the prospective adopters have been assessed as eligible and suitable, and that they meet the age requirement of the UK law, and if so, consider whether there are children of the age and gender to match the prospective adopters' approval.

Where there are children on the list who appear, on the face of it, to match the prospective adopters, the Department for Education will send the relevant papers on the prospective adopters to the local authority looking after the child.

Upon receipt of the papers, the child's social worker in conjunction with the Adoption Service will consider whether the prospective adopters would meet the child's needs. Where necessary, additional information should be requested from the overseas authority via the Department for Education.

Where it is decided that the prospective adopters are not suitable, the Department for Education should be notified and the papers returned.

Where it is decided that the prospective adopters are suitable, the Department for Education should be notified and the proposed match referred to the Adoption Panel for consideration in accordance with the usual procedure. Included in the papers to be presented to the Panel must be the report on the prospective adopters by the foreign authority.

The child's social worker must notify the Department for Education of the decision made.

Where the decision is to proceed with the placement, the child's social worker must send the Child's Permanence Report, together with any Placement Order and a recent photograph of the child, to the Department for Education for onward transmission to the overseas authority and the prospective adopters.

Where the prospective adopters decide to go ahead with the placement, they will be required to travel to meet the child.

The matching procedures will then apply as for any other potential placement.

Placement Planning Meetings should be convened in accordance with the usual procedure (see Section 2, Planning the Placement) to plan the prospective adopters' first meeting with the child, introductions and where the placement goes ahead, regular reports should be required from the relevant overseas authority after the placement.

If the prospective adopters still wish to go ahead and the Placement Planning Meeting confirms that the placement meets the child's needs, the child's social worker must inform the Department for Education, who will contact the overseas authority to confirm that they are content for the placement to go ahead and that the child will be permitted to enter and reside permanently. In these circumstances, the Department for Education will enter the necessary agreement with the overseas authority.

The child's social worker can then arrange for the placement to go ahead.

The prospective adopters will need to seek independent legal advice about the need to apply for a Convention Adoption Order in the UK (which will require the child to be with the adopters for at least 6 months prior to the application) or a Section 84 Order from the High Court granting them Parental Responsibility to take the child outside the UK for the purposes of adoption (which will require the child to be with the adopters for at least 10 weeks prior to the application). In either case, the Court will require a social worker's report.

The prospective adopters will need to arrange for the foreign authority to monitor the placement as required by the Placement Planning Meeting.

Where Prospective Adopters have been identified

It will be for the adoption agency to satisfy itself that the prospective adopters are suitable to adopt the child. The assessment should usually be carried out in the prospective adopters' country and then sent to the adoption agency in the same way as for any other prospective adopter.

The matching procedures will then apply as for any other potential placement.

Placement Planning Meetings should be convened in accordance with the usual placement procedures (see Section 2, Planning the Placement) to plan the prospective adopters' first meeting with the child, introductions and where the placement goes ahead, regular reports should be required from the relevant overseas authority after the placement.

The prospective adopters will need to seek independent legal advice about the need to apply for a Section 84 Order from the High Court granting them parental responsibility to take the child outside the UK for the purposes of adoption (which will require the child to be with the adopters for at least 10 weeks prior to the application). Where such an application is made, the Court will require a social worker's report.

The child's social worker will need to arrange for the foreign authority to monitor the placement as required by the Placement Planning Meeting. 

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