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6.2.1 Planning for Adoption and Preparation of the Adoption Plan and the Child's Permanence Report

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

AMENDMENT

This procedure was updated in May 2018 to emphasise ‘procedural fairness’ as a key aspect of the adoption planning process, especially in respect of ensuring birth parents are provided with information throughout the process, including the dates of placement and any proposed changes of a child’s Status, etc. This follows the outcome of a judicial review ([2017] EWHC 1041 (Admin)). (See new Section 4.1, Providing Information to Birth Parents - Procedural Fairness).


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Referral for Adoption
  3. Work with the Child
  4. Work with the Child's Parent(s), Guardians or Others
  5. Preparing and Presenting the Child’s Permanence Report
  6. Planning for Adoption Procedure


1. Introduction

The local authority has a duty to provide adoption services to children who may be adopted, their parents and guardians under section 3(a) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002. East Riding of Yorkshire Council provides adoption services through the operation of its Adoption Agency. The Adoption Agency must adhere to the requirements of the Adoption Agencies Regulations, and all adoption work must meet the criteria set out in the National Minimum Adoption Standards.


2. Referral for Adoption

Caption: referral for adoption table
   
1.

Children may be referred to the Adoption Agency for an adoption placement:

  1. By the child's birth mother (voluntary relinquishment);
  2. Following a looked after child's statutory review, when a permanence plan of adoption has been endorsed by the review. (See "Permanency Planning for Children in Care - Procedure").
Similar regulatory requirements and legal processes apply in both circumstances, with the exception that it will be necessary for the local authority to apply for a Placement Order prior to placing the child with a prospective adoptive family when any parent or guardian of the child has not given their consent to the adoption.
2.

The Adoption Team should be alerted to the possibility of a child requiring an adoption placement as soon as this option becomes a serious consideration. The Adoption Team must be consulted in drawing up any permanence plan which involves adoption and a representative from the team must be invited to attend any review at which a permanence plan of adoption is presented for discussion and endorsement, including when parallel planning/twin tracking options involving adoption are being considered. It will not be appropriate to endorse a plan of adoption as a contingency measure when no immediate action can be taken to progress the adoption plan. This is likely to be the case when assessments are outstanding and:

  • They are complex or involve other professionals and are likely to take some time to complete;
  • The outcome of the assessment is uncertain;
  • A clear-cut outcome is unlikely, and will be subject to an active challenge.
However it may still be appropriate to convene a core group to monitor progress in implementing plans for permanence;
3.

The adoption team will be responsible for convening and chairing an adoption implementation (AI) core group consisting of: the child's Social Worker, adoption link worker, child's carer and any other person having a significant role in implementing the adoption plan. This could include a birth parent or the young person concerned if appropriate. The group will meet within 2 weeks of:

  • A review where a plan of adoption is agreed;
  • Receipt of a referral in respect of an unborn child, or of a child who is not looked after.

The meeting will discuss and agree the adoption plan for the child. The adoption plan will:

  • Summarise the identified needs of the child which need to be taken into account when identifying an adoption placement, including any arrangements for maintaining contact with the birth family and significant others;
  • Set out the actions required to achieve the adoption plan, who will be responsible for each task and the timescales in which they will be completed.
The adoption plan replaces the child's Care Plan. A copy of the adoption plan must be forwarded to the Children's Independent and Safeguarding Reviewing Officer chairing the statutory review which endorsed the adoption plan within 2 weeks of the planning meeting. The adoption implementation group will meet at regular intervals to discuss and monitor progress in achieving the plan. Minutes of meetings will be sent to the CISRO;
4.

Following referral of a child for adoption, the Adoption Agency must arrange to:

  • Set up an adoption case record for the child (see Case Recording Procedure);
  • Provide counselling and information for the child and any parent or guardian of the child;
  • Ascertain the wishes and feelings of the child, any parent or guardian and any other person the agency considers relevant;
  • Obtain information about the child and the child's family;
  • Prepare a permanence report in respect of the child.
These requirements apply in all cases, regardless of whether the child's birth parent(s) or guardian has requested the child's placement for adoption or is in agreement with a Permanence Plan involving adoption.


3. Work with the Child

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1.

Regulation 13 of the Adoption Agency Regulations 2005 is specific regarding the matters which must be covered in working with children. In addition to providing counselling in general there is a requirement to:

  • Explain to the child in an appropriate manner the procedure in relation to, and the legal implications of adoption for the child, and provide him/her with appropriate written information about these matters;
  • Ascertain the child's wishes and feelings regarding:
    1. The possibility of placement with a new family and their adoption;
    2. Their religious and cultural upbringing;
    3. Contact with their parent(s) or guardian or other relative or any other person the agency considers relevant.

In respect of children who are being looked after by the local authority, many of these matters will have already been explored with the child during the process of making a permanence plan. However further work will need to be carried out once the decision has been made that permanence should be achieved through adoption, to ensure that all the requirements of the Regulations are met.

The Adoption Minimum National Standards state that in relation to the requirement to provide counselling for the child and report on the child’s wishes to Adoption Panel/Agency Decision Maker as part of Child’s Permanence Report, the child’s preferred method of communication should be known. There should be no assumption that a child is unable to communicate their wishes or feelings about adoption The Children’s Independent and Safeguarding Review Officer should advise the child about his or her right to appoint an advocate where they have problems or concerns (see Advocacy Service for Children in Care Procedure).
2. Consideration should be given to the best methods and timescales for carrying out the work taking account of the age and development of the child. The work required by the Regulations should be distinguished from more general "life work" which may also be required in order to prepare the child for an adoption placement, and may be undertaken by an individual other than the child's social worker (i.e. a carer).


4. Work with the Child's Parent(s), Guardians or Others

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1.

The Adoption National Minimum Standards, state the birth family must be involved in adoption planning. They should be provided with written information about the adoption process, offered independent support, and have their wishes for the child included in the Child’s Permanence Report (with an opportunity for them to receive and comment on this section of the report before the report is presented to the Adoption Panel/Agency Decision Maker).

Regulation 14 sets out the requirements in respect of work with the child's parents or guardian. There is a duty to:

  • Provide a counselling service;
  • Explain, and provide written information with regard to:
    1. The procedures in relation to both placement for adoption and adoption;
    2. The legal implications of giving consent to adoption under section 19 or 20 of the Act, and to giving consent to a placement order;
    3. The legal implications of adoption.
  • Ascertain the wishes and feelings of the parent or guardian regarding:
    1. The child;
    2. The placement of the child for adoption, including wishes and feelings in respect of the child's religious or cultural upbringing;
    3. Contact with the child if the child is authorised to be placed for adoption or the child is adopted.

The separate procedure "Consent to Adoption and Adoption Placement Orders" should be consulted for further guidance on giving consent and obtaining authorisation to place a child for adoption.

Particular attention should be paid to contact issues during counselling, as there is a requirement for contact arrangements to be addressed in detail at all stages of the adoption process.
2.

All the requirements set out above apply to both parents when the father of the child has Parental Responsibility. A father who has not married the mother of the child automatically has Parental Responsibility if he was named on the child's birth certificate on or after December 1 2003. All the requirements, apart from those relating to issues of consent, also apply to a birth father who does not have Parental Responsibility, when his identity is known to the agency, and the agency is satisfied that it is appropriate to carry out the requirement.

In addition the agency must also ascertain whether a birth father without Parental Responsibility for the child:

3. When a parent has made a self-referral, for example in the case of a pregnant woman requesting adoption for her expected baby, all alternatives to adoption must be explored fully with her. A Single Assessment should be carried out in accordance Working Together to Safeguard Children, and consideration should be given to whether the provision of services under section 17 of the Children Act 1989 would enable the child to be cared for by the parent, and prevent the need for an adoption placement. If it is appropriate to proceed with adoption all requirements in relation to counselling can be carried out, and the Child's Permanence Report prepared as far as possible, prior to the birth of the child.
4. Regulations 15, 16 and Schedule 1 of the Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005 set out the information that must be obtained about the child and his/her family, including medical information. Arrangements must be made for the child to be examined by a registered medical practitioner, and a report on the child's health to be obtained, unless the medical adviser considers this to be unnecessary.

4.1 Providing Information to Birth Parents - Procedural Fairness

The local authority must ensure that the birth parents are informed and advised of the key stages of the plan for adoption so that they have every opportunity to challenge the plan. The adoption agency/local authority must be clear as to when it needs leave of the court to place a child and when a placement can be made without leave of the court.

In a judicial review, (see [2017] EWHC 1041 (Admin)). Placement for Adoption was confirmed as having ‘significant legal and emotional impacts for all involved, - the child, the parent and the prospective adopters. As such, it is an important step in the process leading to an adoption’. The judgement identifid that:

  1. There should be the opportunity for the person affected to make representation before the decision is acted upon;
  2. The affected person should be provided with information so that they can act in a timely way;
  3. This information should relate ‘to the relevant legal or administrative process or to facts relating to when a decision is to be made and put into effect’.

Therefore, as a matter of good practice, and especially where parents have indicated their opposition to an adoption order, the social worker should inform them in a timely way, and in writing, of their intention to proceed with the plan of placement for adoption. (Note: where the child is already in placement and is being adopted by, for example a foster carer, the same notice should be sent in respect of changing the status from that of being a ‘Looked After Placement’, to that of being ‘Placed for Adoption’).

Practitioners must bear in mind that a court’s determination of ‘procedural fairness’ will not be based on what appears to them to be a typical interpretation of ‘the best interests of the child’, but on the issues highlighted above. (See para 26, [2017] EWHC 1041 (Admin)) (as above).

‘Justice must not only be done but be seen to be done’, (para 44 in Re F (Placement Order) [2008] 2 FLR 550.)


5. Preparing and Presenting the Child’s Permanence Report

  1. A Child's Permanence Report, summarising the outcome of the work undertaken with the child, their parent(s) or guardian, and the information obtained about the child and their family must be prepared and presented to the Adoption Panel/Agency Decision Maker. (See Presentation of Children's Cases to the Adoption Panel/Agency Decision Maker Procedure.) In the case of a looked after child this must be done within 2 months of the review at which the decision to seek an adoption placement for the child was endorsed;
  2. The Child's Permanence Report can only be prepared by:
    • A registered social worker who has 3 years post-qualifying experience in childcare social work, including direct experience of adoption work;
    • A registered social worker who is employed by the council and is supervised by a registered social worker employed by the council who has 3 years post-qualifying experience in child care social work, including direct experience of adoption work;
    • A social work student on placement with the council who is being supervised by a registered social worker employed by the council with 3 years post-qualifying experience in child care social work, including direct experience of adoption work.


6. Planning for Adoption Procedure

  1. On receipt of a referral from a child's parent or guardian requesting that the child is placed for adoption, the Social Worker carries out a Single Assessment  in accordance with Working Together to Safeguard Children;
  2. Social worker consults the adoption team, by sending a completed child for adoption referral form as soon as possible following completion of an Initial CiN Assessment which confirms a request to place a child for adoption from a parent or guardian of the child or when a permanence plan involving adoption is being considered for a looked after child. Social Worker also sends an invitation to the adoption team for a representative to attend any Looked After Review meeting where a permanence plan of adoption is to be considered;
  3. Adoption Team Manager allocates, and notifies the Social Worker, a worker from the adoption team to act as adoption link worker and to work with the Social Worker to identify an adoption placement for the child and provide advice and guidance on all aspects of the adoption process;
  4. The child's Social Worker ensures that the adoption link worker is invited to all statutory LAC reviews of the child when a permanence plan of adoption is being considered or is in place. The adoption link worker provides a report to the review on the availability of suitable placements, the measures that will need to be taken and timescales to identify a placement and the progress being made;
  5. Adoption link worker convenes an adoption implementation (AI) core group, and arranges a meeting within 2 weeks of the referral being received or of the LAC review where permanence plan of adoption was endorsed. Adoption link worker provides the child's Social Worker with an adoption pack, consisting of relevant medical forms, leaflets and guidance. The adoption link worker will be responsible for making a record of the meeting, and distributing copies to all members of the group and the Children's Independent and Safeguarding Reviewing Officer;
  1. The adoption link worker assists the child's Social Worker to draw up the adoption plan. A copy of the plan must be distributed to all members of the adoption core group, and the Children's Independent and Safeguarding Reviewing Officer within 2 weeks of the meeting;
  2. The child's Social Worker (or social worker for the parent when a separate worker has been assigned) should arrange to meet with the parent(s) or guardian of the child to undertake the tasks outlined in Section 4, Work with the Child's Parent(s), Guardians or Others. The adoption link worker may assist in giving a full explanation of the adoption process by visiting independently or jointly with the child's Social Worker. An explanatory leaflet should be given to the parent / guardian. The parent or guardian should be asked to sign an acknowledgement of receipt, which should be placed on the child's adoption file. A summary of the parent(s)' /guardian's views should be recorded in the adoption file;
  3. The social worker and/or adoption link worker should discuss with the child's parent(s) / guardian their support needs and the help available to them in respect of adoption. This includes legal advice and access to an independent counselling service. (The adoption link worker can advise on accessing this service from After Adoption and arrange for a referral to be made).

    As part of the Adoption Plan, the social worker should also discuss with the prospective adopters what support they will require, where appropriate, Support provided to prospective adopters is to help the child develop positive relationships and to help manage any challenging behaviour. Support is provided to also ensure they promote the child’s educational attainment and participation in leisure interests and trips;
  4. The assessment of the child’s needs must include:
    • Contact with birth parents and siblings;
    • Checking of the birth family’s and prospective adopters’ views pre-placement;
    • Inclusion of contact arrangements in adoption support plan; and
    • How to deal with unauthorised or unmediated contact through online social networking sites.
  5. Initiating the arrangements for the medical examination, need to be undertaken without delay once the plan of adoption has been agreed, in order that the health report can be prepared within timescales. When forms PH, B and M cannot be completed immediately, CoramBAAF form RHA should be forwarded to the LAC Health Coordinator as soon as possible so that the medical examination can be arranged. Any outstanding form(s) must be forwarded as soon as they are available;
  6. The child's Social Worker will need to obtain medical information from the child's birth parents (if not previously obtained). The Social Worker should arrange for the CoramBAAF medical consent form to be signed by the parent, which will enable CoramBAAF form B (neonatal report on child) and CoramBAAF form M (obstetric report on mother) to be completed. One consent form can be used for the child and one birth parent's information. (An additional consent form must be completed by the other parent.) The child's social worker must arrange for Forms B and M to be sent with a copy of the mother's consent form to the appropriate medical professional at the hospital where the child was born for completion. The Social Worker should ask each parent to complete Form PH. On completion, all forms should be sent with a Review Health Assessment Form (CoramBAAF form RHA-C or RHA-YP) to the LAC Health Coordinator at:

    John Havelot House
    Grange Road
    Bilton Grange
    Hull,
    HU94LQ

    with a note that the Care Plan for the child is adoption;
  1. The LAC Health Coordinator will forward the forms, together with the child's current LAC Health Assessment and Health Plan to the agency medical adviser, who will arrange for the child to be medically examined, if necessary, and will complete a health report on the child for the Adoption Panel/Agency Decision Maker. The adoption medical process effectively brings forward the next LAC health review, and the timing of subsequent health reviews will be taken from the date of the adoption medical examination or health report to the Adoption Panel/Agency Decision Maker;
  2. The Social Worker should attend the adoption medical to be able to give any relevant information to the medical adviser i.e. from social care notes; observations; expert opinions etc;
  3. The Adoption Plan should be clear about responsibility and decision-making delegated to prospective adopters in relation to the child’s health needs and when/under what circumstances consent to medical treatment needs to be obtained;
  4. The child's Social Worker should seek the assistance of the child's parent(s) or guardian or any other person as appropriate in obtaining comprehensive information about the child, and the family history. Even when a parent opposes the adoption plan they should be given the opportunity to contribute information and assist in preparing the background information which must be given to the adoptive parents to make available to the child in later life. Advice and guidance in compiling the background information can be obtained from the adoption team;
  5. The child's Social Worker arranges to meet with the child to ensure that all the tasks are completed in respect of any child aged 4 year or older. The child must be given a copy of the CoramBAAF explanatory booklet on adoption, and East Riding of Yorkshire Adoption Agency Children's Guide. The slip confirming receipt must be placed on the child's adoption record. The date the booklet was given to the child should be noted in the diary record on the child's adoption record, and in the adoption plan. A summary of the child's views on all aspects of adoption should also be recorded on the adoption record;
  6. The child's Social Worker must ensure that any other preparation work with the child which has been identified in the child's adoption plan, e.g. life work, is carried out. If any of this work is carried out by other professionals / organisations, it should be monitored or supervised by the Social Worker Advice and guidance in respect of life work can be obtained from the Adoption Team;
  7. The Social Worker for the child must prepare a Child's Permanence Report for the Adoption Panel/Agency Decision Maker in respect of the child. The contents of this report should be shared with the child's parent(s) /guardian, prior to presentation at panel. Any comments or feedback made by a parent should be noted on the adoption file, and be made available to the Adoption Panel/Agency Decision Maker along with the permanence report. (See also separate procedure "Presentation of Children's Cases to Adoption Panel/Agency Decision Maker");
  8. In preparing the Child's Permanence Report, the Social Worker should consider how best to involve the child. Special care should be taken to ensure that the report records how the child was consulted and that the child's views are clearly stated. An older child may wish to have an opportunity to express their views to the panel in their own words, through a letter or other means;
  9. On completion, the Child's Permanence Report must be signed by the Social Worker's supervisor if s/he is not qualified to prepare the report without supervision and the Team Manager followed by endorsement from the Area Manager before being submitted to the Adoption Panel/Agency Decision Maker;
  10. The Social Worker should provide the later life letter (written from social worker to child) to the adopters within 10 working days of the Adoption Ceremony, i.e. the ceremony to celebrate the making of the adoption order. The life work should also be given to the adopters within the same timescale.

End