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6.5.2 Identifying a Suitable Family for a Child

Please see relevant section of Forms Library to access the required template.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The Adoption Implementation Core Group
  3. Identifying an Adoptive Family
  4. Children who have not been Placed for Adoption
  5. Procedure for Identifying a Suitable Adoptive Family


1. Introduction

The adoption agency has a duty to identify prospective adopters as soon as reasonably practicable. Family finding should begin as soon as adoption is under consideration, and before the Agency Decision Maker decides that the child should be placed for adoption or a Placement Order is made.

In determining whether a prospective adopter may be suitable to adopt the child, an assessment must be made of the ability of the prospective adopter to meet the needs of the child throughout childhood.

Consideration must be given as to whether there are suitable carers available under the Early Permanence: Fostering for Adoption, Concurrent Planning and Temporary Approval as Foster Carers of Approved Prospective Adopters Procedure.

In the case of siblings, an early decision should be taken as to whether it is in the best interests of each child to be placed together or separately, and the impact on each child of that decision. The decision should be based on a balanced assessment of the individual needs of each child in the group, and the likely or possible consequences of each option on each child. Factors that may need to be considered will include: the nature of the sibling group (do the siblings know each other / how are they related); whether the children have formed an attachment; the health needs of each child; and each child’s view (noting that a child’s views and perceptions will change over time).

With effect from July 2014, there is a duty (under Section 22C of the Children Act 1989 (amended by the Children and Families Act 2014)) imposed upon local authorities that where:

  • They are considering adoption for a child (this can be at an early stage, and can be before a decision has been made by the Agency Decision Maker that the child should be place for adoption); or
  • They are satisfied that the child ought to be placed for adoption, but do not yet have authority to place the child for adoption (either by way of parental consent or by way of Placement Order);
  • Then the local authority MUST consider placing the child with:
    • (Firstly) a relative, friend or Connected Person who is also a local authority foster carer; or
    • Where they decide that a placement with such a person is not the most appropriate placement for the child, they must consider placing the child with a local authority foster carer who has been approved as a prospective adopter (a ‘dually approved carer’).

See Early Permanence: Fostering for Adoption, Concurrent Planning and Temporary Approval as Foster Carers of Approved Prospective Adopters Procedure.


2. The Adoption Implementation Core Group

The Adoption Implementation Core Group will oversee all family finding work for the child. The Core Group will:

  • Agree roles and responsibilities in respect of gathering information for, and preparing the child's profile and other publicity and recruitment material;
  • Agree how the child will be involved in family finding activity, who will involve them and keep them informed of progress;
  • Oversee progress in completing the child's permanence report;
  • Identify any supplementary information (e.g. school reports, CAMHS reports, medicals) and who will obtain this;
  • Agree how and who will keep the child's birth parents involved where appropriate, and informed of progress with family finding;
  • Agree who will be involved in undertaking life story work with the child, and monitor progress;
  • Agree who will be completing the life book for the child and monitor progress.

Following referral to the adoption team, progress in finding an adoptive family for the child will be monitored within the adoption team at the adoption referral meetings held fortnightly. The child's adoption social worker will present information about the child to this meeting, and will receive information about prospective adopters already approved by the agency, or who are in the process of being assessed, who may be a potential match for the child. The child's adoption social worker will share any information about possible in-house resources with the adoption implementation Core Group.


3. Identifying an Adoptive Family

A variety of options can be pursued to identify an adoptive a family for a child. These include:

  • Mobilisation of in-house resources by matching the child with a family already approved by the agency, or by making a provisional link with a family undergoing assessment and fast-tracking that assessment;
  • Referring details of the child to One Adoption Yorkshire and Humber;
  • Use of family finding magazines such as "Be My Parent";
  • Use of online family finding resources such as Adoption Link;
  • Targeted recruitment for the child concerned (see Publicity and Recruitment Procedure).

In all cases the mobilisation of in-house resources will be the first option to be considered. The needs of the child, and the anticipated difficulty in identifying a suitable family, will determine which other options will be pursued, and the timing of any action to be taken.

Where the foster carers express a wish to be considered as the child's adoptive parents, see Early Permanence: Fostering for Adoption, Concurrent Planning and Temporary Approval as Foster Carers of Approved Prospective Adopters Procedure.

When no in-house resource can be identified, the use of other family finding options will be discussed and recommended at the adoption team referral meeting. The child's adoption social worker will discuss any family finding options recommended by the referral meeting with the members of the adoption implementation Core Group, and will take responsibility for overseeing any action to be taken.

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 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. 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.


4. Children who have not been Placed for Adoption

The Adoption Agencies Regulations require when an agency has been authorised to place a child for adoption, statutory reviews must be held, initially within 3 months, and then at least at 6 monthly intervals, after the authorisation was received. If the child is subject to a Placement Order, and has not been placed by the first 6 monthly review, the review must establish why the child has not been placed for adoption, and consideration must be given to whether the child should still be placed for adoption. (See also separate procedure "Review of Children's Cases").

In circumstances when little progress has been made in identifying a suitable family for a child, the Adoption Implementation (AI) Core Group may conclude that further family finding efforts are likely to prove fruitless, and that the plan to place the child for adoption should be abandoned and other permanency options for the child pursued. The child's adoption social worker will notify the Children's Independent and Safeguarding Reviewing Officer of the views of the Core Group, who will decide whether the child's next statutory review should be brought forward.


5. Procedure for Identifying a Suitable Adoptive Family

Following the child's referral, and the first adoption implementation Core Group meeting, the child's adoption social worker will discuss the child's family finding needs at the adoption referral meeting, on a regular basis. They will keep the Core Group informed of any families identified at the referral meeting, and of any other recommendations in respect of family - finding activity made by the meeting.

The child's social worker is responsible for obtaining all relevant consents for referrals and publicity in connection with any family finding activity. This will include from the child, birth parents, Area Manager, the Court, depending on the child's legal status and age and understanding. (See also separate procedure Publicity and Recruitment).

The child's adoption social worker will liaise with the child's social worker to complete referral forms for any family - finding option agreed by the AI Core Group, e.g. Be My parent, One Adoption Yorkshire and Humber, etc.

The child's adoption social worker will be responsible for monitoring the progress of any family finding activity. They will notify the child's social worker of all responses generated, and undertake initial-follow up including sending out relevant information to other agencies as appropriate. A covering letter should accompany the information.

Where a match is being considered, the child’s social worker should provide full access to the child’s adoption case record to the prospective adopters’ social worker. The prospective adopters should also be provided with any other relevant information and required specialist advice prior to the placement.

The child's adoption social worker will arrange and chair meetings of the AI Core Group at the frequency agreed by the group, or statutory review meeting. They will be responsible for circulating minutes to all group members and the Children's Independent and Safeguarding Reviewing Officer.

The child's adoption social worker will report any difficulties encountered in progressing family finding with the Adoption Team Leader, who should endorse any recommendation that a Care Plan of adoption should be abandoned. If an adoption agency decision has been made that a child should be placed for adoption, and subsequently the child's statutory review recommends that the child should no longer be placed for adoption, the Adoption Team Manager (Adoption Agency Adviser) will report the matter to the adoption panel.

End