Family Finding for Harder to Place Children


Please see note: Local Authority Circular (98) 20, para 40.

See also: Staff Access to Adoption Forms

Click here for LCS Guidance.


This chapter was developed/entirely revised in September 2018 and should be re-read in full.

1. Overview

Family finding for our harder to place children should start before the granting of a placement order depending on the needs. If there is no active link with a prospective adopter available for a child within the county, then the search for a permanent family must be widened via family finding to include the Adopt East Region (Essex, Suffolk, Southend on Sea, Barnardo's and Luton), voluntary agencies and Link Maker.

Adopt East is made up of six adoption services Hertfordshire, Essex, Luton, Suffolk, Southend on Sea and Barnardo's. Adopt East exchanges details of approved families, and children requiring permanent placements.

Adoption UK is a voluntary organisation run by adopters to offer support, information, advice and encouragement to prospective and established adopters. It published 'Adoption Today', a bimonthly magazine which features children needing permanent families as well as articles relation to all aspects of adoption.

Be My Parent Newspaper is published by CoramBAAF (British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering) monthly and carries details of children needing families.

See also Adoption Register Forms:

2. Procedures

When a child/ children is assessed as having specific special needs, then the child/children are allocated a family finding social worker from the Adoption Team.

The child's social worker must first

  • Ensure that the child's Permanence Report is updated and all relevant reports about the child are available for the potential adopters to read;
  • Send copies of these to the family finding social worker together with photos and a DVD of the child;
  • Written consent for the advertising/ publicity will be required from someone with parental responsibility for the child i.e. either the birth parents or the manager of the child's social worker. This may be obtained before the final hearing with the court's agreement;
  • Invite the family finding social worker to all significant meetings about the child and be kept updated.

The family finding social worker needs

  • To meet the child in order to have a clear understanding of that child and his/her abilities and level of functioning in order to be able to convey a real sense of the essence of this particular child to potential adopters;
  • Prepares a profile about the child to use for publicity and advertising. This will usually take place through the Family Finding Referral Meeting.

When foster carers come forward offering permanence to a child in their care for whom the Adoption Team is family finding a pre-selection meeting should be held. This meeting will identify matching considerations and enable the child's social worker and manager to make a decision about whether or not the foster carers should be assessed as prospective adopters by the Adoption Team. If the decision is made to proceed with the foster carer's assessment, other family finding activates will be suspended and the foster carers assessed specifically to adopt that child.

When an appropriate prospective adoption family is identified, the Family Finding Worker needs to book a selection meeting and Matching Panel in the usual way. An adoption placement report will be required for panel.

Older children often need to be specifically prepared for a move to a permanent placement and new parents by direct work over a period of time (see Preparing a Child for Permanent Placement Procedure).

This will usually be carried out by the Family Finding Worker.

When a permanent new family has been identified and the matching agreed at Panel, the child needs to be helped to understand what has happened, enabled to express their feelings and helped to move emotionally from their current carers to their new permanent carers. This transition work will be carried out by the Family Finding Worker unless an alternative professional has been identified.

The usual Preparation for Placement Planning Meeting section applies (see Permanence Planning and Placement Procedure) as does the remainder of that chapter. with the following additions.

For inter-agency placements the CoramBAAF IA (Financial Agreements for Interagency Placements) (CoramBAAF forms IA) is used for the Placement Planning Meeting. IA must be used for the financial agreements. When completed, it should be sent to the Admin Team at the Adoption Team. The CSF3957 Matching Agreement form can be used for the planning of the move.

CoramBAAF Form IA is an agreement form designed to be used at the Placement Planning Meetings of inter-agency placements. They are helpful in ensuring that everyone is aware of the individual plan to move the child/children and who needs to do what to ensure the smooth transition of the child. An inter-agency agreement regarding all aspects of the placement is agreed and signed at this meeting. An Adoption Support Plan will also be discussed and finalised at this meeting. For guidance on timescales and limits of adoption support, see 'Adoption Support Policy' (see also Adoption Support Services Procedure).

In interagency placements a case file must be made either in respect of the children if Hertfordshire County Council provides the adopters or in respect of the adopters if Hertfordshire County Council places the child with an adopter from another agency.

Expenses for visits, overnight stays and other extras or initial payments are the responsibility of the Adoption Team.

(Responsibility - Adoption Team Social Worker).