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6.4.5 Review and Termination of Approval of Prospective Adopters

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

For additional guidancem, see Adoption Statutory Guidance.


Contents

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1. Introduction
2. Change in the Circumstances of Prospective Adopters
3. Referral to the Adoption Panel
4. Procedure for Review and Termination of Prospective Adopters
  4.1 Undertaking a Review
  4.2 Referral to the Adoption Panel
  4.3 The Adoption Panel Meeting
  4.4 Following the Adoption Panel Meeting
  4.5 Representations
  4.6 Application for an Independent Review


1. Introduction

The Adoption Agency is required to review the approval of prospective adopters who have not had a child placed with them whenever they consider this necessary, but at least annually. The first review therefore must be carried out no more than 12 months after the date of approval.

A review will also be undertaken if a significant change in the circumstance of the prospective adopters comes to the notice of the agency.


2. Change in the Circumstances of Prospective Adopters

Changes in circumstances which are likely to warrant a review being carried out include:

  • Change of address;
  • A change in family composition whether as a result of an individual leaving or joining the household (e.g. as a consequence of separation, divorce, remarriage /cohabitation, the birth of a baby, taking on new caring responsibilities or providing accommodation to a relative, friend or lodger);
  • Changes in employment;
  • Criminal offences committed by any member of the household;
  • Change in health;
  • Child protection allegations being made, or childcare concerns being raised in respect of any member of the family.

In carrying out the review the agency can make enquiries and obtain whatever information it considers necessary. However it must seek the views of the prospective adopter(s) and take these into account when making any decision.


3. Referral to the Adoption Panel

If following the review the prospective adopter(s) are no longer considered suitable to adopt a child the case must be referred to the adoption panel, and the prospective adopters must be notified of this. The agency must prepare a Prospective Adopter's Review Report, and a copy must be sent to the prospective adopter(s). The prospective adopters must be given 10 working days in which to send written observations on the report to the agency.

In making a recommendation the adoption panel must take account of the Prospective Adopter's Review Report and the observations made by the prospective adopters as well as any other information the adoption agency has provided, including any information requested by the panel.

The agency decision maker makes the final decision whether the prospective adopter(s) continues to be suitable to adopt a child. The same requirements apply in respect of the decision as those that applied to the original decision to approve the prospective adopter(s). If the decision is that they are no longer considered to be suitable they must be given 40 days in which to make representations to the agency or to apply for a review by the Independent Review Mechanism before the decision can be confirmed.


4. Procedure for Review and Termination of Prospective Adopters

4.1 Undertaking a Review

In the event of it coming to the notice of the agency that there has been a significant change in the circumstances of the prospective adopters, and no child has been placed with them, their adoption social worker will initiate a review, following consultation with the Adoption Team Manager.

If no review has been held in the previous 12 months, and no child has been placed with the prospective adopter(s) during this period, the adoption social worker will initiate a review on the anniversary of their approval.

Following the decision to initiate a review, the adoption social worker will notify the prospective adopters that a review is to take place, and request that they complete and return the consultation questionnaire.

When the review has been called as a consequence of a change in circumstances of the prospective applicants, consideration should be given to the extent of enquiries / checks which need to be made with statutory agencies and other individuals who may have relevant information to provide regarding the circumstances of the prospective adopters and any concerns which may have arisen concerning their suitability to adopt a child. When medical concerns have arisen consideration should be given to whether medical reports need to be updated. When concerns have arisen relating to any criminal offence that may have been committed by any member of the household, Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks should be renewed. Medical reports and DBS checks should be updated if a period of 3 years has elapsed since approval unless the prospective adopters have subscribed to the Disclosure and Barring Service Update Service.

The adoption social worker will normally arrange to meet with the prospective adopter(s) to carry out the review. When it is likely that the outcome of the review will be to recommend the termination of their approval as suitable to adopt a child, the Adoption Team Manager should chair the meeting. A record of the review should be made on the appropriate form.

If at the conclusion of the review the prospective adopters continue to be considered suitable to adopt a child, a letter will be sent from the Adoption Team Manager notifying them of their continuing approval and enclosing a copy of the review record.

If at the conclusion of the review, the prospective applicants appear to be no longer suitable to adopt a child, the adoption social worker must complete a Prospective Adopter's Review Report for presentation to the Adoption Panel. The report should be forwarded to the agency adviser (Adoption Team Manager) for endorsement.

4.2 Referral to the Adoption Panel

The agency adviser (Adoption Team Manager) will advise the panel administrator that the prospective adopters case is to be referred to the adoption panel. The panel administrator will arrange for the prospective adopters to be given written notification that their case will be referred to the panel, and to be sent a copy of the prospective adopters review report inviting them to make written observations on the report to the agency within 10 working days.

The panel administrator will arrange for the prospective adopter(s)' case to be tabled for consideration by the adoption panel at the next available opportunity, following the receipt of the prospective adopter(s)' observations or expiry of the 10 days. The panel administrator will send a letter to the prospective adopter(s) with a copy to their adoption social worker advising them of the date of the meeting and inviting them to attend.

The panel administrator will send the following documents to all panel members and the agency decision-maker (Director of Children, Families and Schools) 7 days in advance of the panel meeting:

  • The Prospective Adopter's Report;
  • The Prospective Adopter's Review Report;
  • Any written observations received from the prospective adopter(s);
  • Updated medical report on the prospective adopter(s), if appropriate;
  • Any other relevant information or reports as directed by the agency adviser.

4.3 The Adoption Panel Meeting

The applicant(s)'s adoption social worker will attend the adoption panel to present the review report. The adoption panel will first discuss the case with the adoption social worker before inviting the applicants to join the meeting. The applicants will be asked to leave following the discussion with them. The adoption panel will then formally make their recommendations. The outcome can be a recommendation to terminate the prospective adopter(s)' approval, or the matter can be deferred to a subsequent panel if panel members consider that there is a need for more information before making a recommendation. The prospective adopter(s) will be invited back into the meeting, and the panel chair will advise them of the panel's recommendations.

4.4 Following the Adoption Panel Meeting

Following the adoption panel the panel administrator will forward details of the panel's recommendations, and any information obtained by the agency at the request of the adoption panel, to the Adoption Agency Decision Maker, who will make the final decision:

  1. Taking into account
    • The Prospective Adopter's Review Report;
    • Any medical or other reports /information obtained by the agency;
    • Any other information obtained by the agency at the request of the adoption panel.
  2. And in the case of a couple applying to adopt, having proper regard to the need for stability and permanence in their relationship.

For approvals which are not terminated, the Panel Administrator will arrange for a letter, from the Agency Decision Maker to be sent to the applicants notifying of the decision that they continue to be considered suitable to adopt a child.

In the case of approvals which are terminated, the Panel Administrator will arrange for a letter from the Agency Decision Maker to be sent to the applicant(s) notifying them:

  • That it is proposed to terminate his/her/their approval as suitable to adopt a child;
  • The reasons for this decision;
  • Of their right to either:
    • Submit any representations they /s/he wish to make to the agency;

      or

    • Apply to the Independent Review Mechanism of the decision within 40 working days of the date the notification was sent.

A copy of the recommendation of the adoption panel, if different from the agency decision, and an explanatory leaflet on the Independent Review Mechanism will be enclosed with the notification.

After the expiry of the 40 working day period, the adoption agency can proceed to make its decision. The panel administrator will send a letter to the prospective adopter(s) notifying them of the decision, and the reasons for the decision.

4.5 Representations

If a decision is made to refuse an application, the applicant will be advised that if he or she wishes to challenge the decision, representations should be submitted within 40 working days either directly to the agency, or they may request a referral to the Independent Review Mechanism. N.B. Applicants can decide which representation procedure to choose - they cannot choose both.

After the 40 working day period has expired, the Agency Decision Maker must proceed to make a decision on the suitability of the prospective adopter to adopt.

Where the agency receives representations from the prospective adopter within 40 working days, the Agency Decision Maker may consider the representations and may invite the prospective adopter to meet to discuss their case. The Agency Decision Maker may, instead, refer the case to the adoption panel for further consideration. Where the case is referred to the panel, the panel must consider the case again and make a fresh recommendation as to the suitability of the prospective adopter to adopt a child. The prospective adopter must be invited to attend the panel meeting to answer any questions the adoption panel may have.

Where the case is referred back to the adoption panel for further consideration, the panel administrator will arrange for the prospective adopters case to be tabled for consideration by the adoption panel at the next available opportunity, following the receipt of the prospective adopter(s) representations. The panel administrator will send a letter to the prospective adopter(s) with a copy to the adoption social worker advising them of the date of the meeting and inviting them to attend.

The panel administrator will send all the reports and information previously submitted to the adoption panel, along with the prospective adopters representations to the agency, and the record of the original panel discussion and recommendations, to all panel members and the agency decision-maker (Director of Children, Families and Schools) 7 days in advance of the panel meeting:

The applicant(s)'s adoption social worker will attend the adoption panel with the prospective adopter(s). The prospective adopters may address the panel to provide clarification or further information in support of their representations, and panel members may seek clarification and further information from them. The adoption social worker will be given the opportunity to respond to the representations made by the prospective adopter. The prospective adopters will be asked to leave the meeting following the discussion with them. The adoption panel will then consider the case and make their recommendations. The prospective adopter(s) will be invited back into the meeting, and the panel chair will advise them of the panel's recommendations.

Following the meeting of the adoption panel the panel administrator will forward details of the panel's recommendations, to the Adoption Agency Decision Maker, who will make the final decision taking into account all relevant information and the original and new recommendations of the adoption panel.

The Panel Administrator will arrange for a letter, from the Agency Decision Maker, to be sent to the prospective adopter(s) notifying them of the decision. If the prospective adopter's approval is terminated, the notification must state the reasons for the decision and the adoption panel's new recommendation, if different from the agency decision.

4.6 Application for an Independent Review

Within 10 working days of receiving notification that the prospective adopter(s) has applied for a review by the Independent Review Mechanism, the panel administrator will send:

  • All the documents and information which were sent to the adoption panel;
  • Any relevant information about the prospective adopter(s) which was obtained by the adoption agency after the date the above documents and information were sent to the adoption panel;
  • A copy of the notification sent to the prospective adopter(s) that the agency proposes to terminate his/her/ their approval as suitable to adopt a child;
  • A copy of the notification of the agency's reasons for its decision and the recommendations of the adoption panel, if different, which were sent to the prospective adopter(s).

Following the notification of the recommendation of the Independent Review Mechanism, the panel administrator will forward details of the review panel's recommendations along with all the reports and information previously submitted to the adoption panel and a copy of its recommendations, to the Adoption Agency Decision Maker. The Adoption Agency Decision Maker will make the final decision taking into account all relevant information, and the recommendations of the adoption panel and the Independent Review Mechanism.

The Panel Administrator will arrange for a letter, from the Agency Decision Maker, to be sent to the prospective adopter(s) notifying her/him/ them of the decision. If the prospective adopter(s)'s approval as suitable to adopt has been terminated the notification must state the reasons for the decision.

End