Disruption of Adoptive and Long Term Foster Placements


Disruptions of adoptive (pre and post order) and long term foster placements. If a disruption occurs prior to an Adoption Order having been made this is a statutory requirement. Where a disruption takes place after an Adoption Order has been made, it is Children's Services Policy that a Disruption Meeting should be offered as part of the adoption support provided to the child and adoptive family and the same process should be followed. Similarly a Disruption Meeting following the breakdown of a Long Term Foster Placement, approved by Fostering Panel should be offered.

Please also see Placement Planning and Disruption Meetings Procedure

Please also read in conjunction with the Hertfordshire process, including:

Requests for Disruption Learning Meeting
Learning from Disruption Chronology
Disruption Meeting Learning Agenda
Chair's Aid – Memoire for the Learning Meeting for the Following and Adoption or Matched Long-Term Fostering Placement Disrupting


This chapter was refreshed in March 2023.

This chapter is currently under review.

1. When Must a Disruption Meeting be Held / Who Should be Involved

Where an agency adoptive placement breaks down prior to the granting of an Adoption Order, a Disruption Meeting must be held to identify the reasons for the breakdown and to learn lessons from the events surrounding the breakdown. When endings are unplanned, then the welfare and well-being of children remain paramount and agency staff act at all times with this in mind.

The Disruption Meeting for a pre order adoptive placement will be held no sooner than 28 days after and no later than 42 days after the placement breaking down, and will follow a set agenda. For a post order adoptive placement or a long term foster placement it must be held no sooner than six weeks but no later than twelve weeks after the placement ending.

When the disruption is:

  • Before the Adoption Order, the Adoption Team social worker will arrange for the meeting to be chaired independently by an experienced practitioner or manager, identified by the Child Protection and Statutory Review Service;
  • After the Adoption Order, a Child and Family Assessment will be carried out by the child's social worker (with input from Adoption Support) who will arrange for the Disruption Meeting to be chaired by an IRO;
  • After a long term foster placement, that has been subject of a Fostering Panel decision, the child's social worker will arrange for an IRO, who is not the named IRO, for the child to chair.
  1. The Disruption Meeting will be convened by the child's social worker, who will invite the prospective adoptive parents, adoptive parents or long term foster carers, their social worker, the current carers, the child's Independent Reviewing Officer and any other relevant people;

    Child's social worker's Team Manager;

    Team Manager - Fostering Team/ Adoption Team;

    Child/ Young person;

    Birth family members;

    Advisory teachers;

    Representative from Education;


    Respite carers;

    Anyone else who has had an active role in the welfare of the child/ young person;

    If anyone who is thought to have an important contribution cannot attend the meeting they should send written notes of speak to the chair before the meeting to convey their views.
  2. The child's social worker will also ensure that the child's views and feelings are given to the meeting in the most appropriate way.

2. Disruption Meeting Agenda / Areas to be Covered

  1. The reasons/contributing factors for the breakdown and the lessons to be learnt from events surrounding the breakdown;
  2. The child's background, behaviour and needs - key points;
  3. The child's preparation for adoption or long-term fostering - including his or her understanding of why he/she could not stay with the birth family, if appropriate;
  4. Contact issues;
  5. The new family - the preparation adopters received for placement;
  6. The link - why the placement seemed a good match;
  7. Information - what the adopters/ carers received, impression gained, any gaps, etc.;
  8. Introductions - how did these go?
  9. The move - any significant points;
  10. The child's time with their new family;
  11. Support to placement - including education, special/ additional needs and been hoped and planned for?
  12. Inter-agency working where the case involved more than one agency;
  13. The child now, his/ her wishes and feelings about the disruption;
  14. Key issues arising from the placement - what, if anything, might have helped? Is there anything that can be learned from this?
  15. Action Plan The future - including any contact between the child and the family.

Disruption Meetings provide an opportunity to explore and understand they are not held to apportion blame. They should highlight areas for development in practice and plan arrangements to help the child understand the reasons behind the disruption and to provide support with the transition (S11 FNMS2011)

3. Disruption Meeting Minutes

The Chair will produce minutes of the meeting which will be circulated to all those who attended and the following:

  • Operational Director;
  • Head of Adoption and Fostering;
  • Services Manager of Adoption or Fostering;
  • Chair of Adoption or Fostering Panel;
  • Manager of Independent Review Team;
  • Relevant Children Services Manager and Head of Service;

Minutes will be taken as per the agenda, including an action plan. Draft minutes should be sent to key personnel for considerations within 10 working days. Any suggested changes will need to be returned within 5 working days of receipt. (Responsibility - Chair of Meeting).

The chair will consider requested  amendments and pass to Head of Service, Fostering and Adoption, to 'sign off'. The chair will distribute to participants and Head of Service for the child's allocated social worker.

It is essential that a copy of the minutes is placed on the child's LCS record in the CLA section. The responsibility for this lies with the child's social worker. A copy to be placed on foster carer/ adopter's file or LCS record.

4. Post Disruption Contact

Following on from Disruption Meetings, a recommendation may be made regarding future contact arrangements and who receives information regarding the disruption (e.g. birth parents in relation to adoptive breakdowns). Legal advice may need to be taken and the recommendations will need to be part of the review discussion.

5. Reporting Disruptions to Adoption Panel

The child's social worker and the prospective adopters' social worker should attend the Adoption Panel to present a report from the Disruption Meeting regarding pre order Disruption When this is considered, the Panel should also receive copies of the Panel minutes recommending the adoption plan for the child, the prospective adopters' approval and the placement with the particular prospective adopters, to enable learning points to be shared.

The child's social worker should contact the Panel Administrator to book a date for the Adoption Panel to consider the matter and the relevant documents should be sent to the Panel Administrator 10 working days before the Panel meeting.

Where an Adoption Placement Plan is terminated before the adoptive placement takes place (i.e. during introductions), the adoption social worker for an in-house approved family, or the child's social worker in the case of an inter-agency placement, will prepare a report for the Adoption Panel. The report must outline the reasons for the breakdown.

In all such cases, the Adoption Panel may consider whether the plan for the child should be reviewed and/or whether the prospective adopters' approval should be reconsidered, and these issues may need to be further investigated and reports be presented to a subsequent meeting.

6. Post Disruption Care Planning and Statutory Requirements for CLA Review for Pre-Adoptive Placements

All children in pre-adoptive placements must have a CLA Review within 20 working days after the child has moved from a pre-adoptive placement. In addition to the usual agenda the CLA Review must consider the current placement and placement arrangements, contact issues with the pre-adoptive parents and who will inform the birth family about the disruption, when and how this will be undertaken.

All disruption meetings must lead to a reappraisal of the care plan. Therefore on completion of the disruption meeting/reporting process the social worker should convene another CLA Review, within 4 weeks of the process above, which may be 8 weeks after the Disruption Meeting. This is to consider the action plan emanating from the Disruption Meeting and any changes required in the care plan or the implementation of the care plan. Any amendments to the care plan must be signed off by the Services Manager.

Where a significant changes has been agreed, to the child's care plan the IRO must ensure that these are reflected in the child's Permanence Plan (i.e. the minute of the Permanence Planning Meeting).

See also Permanence Planning Procedure, Permanence Planning for Children Subject to Placement Order and Permanency Planning Procedure, Permanency Tracking Panel.

7. Flowchart for Pre-Adoptive Placement Disruptions

Click here to view the Process for Disruption Meetings and Care Planning when Pre-Adoptive Placements disrupt flowchart.