Part 6 - Permanence - Planning and Supporting
Planning for and supporting the child’s move to Permanent Carers
Potential matches can be explored internally by the Fostering and Adoption Team, prior to the decision by the Adoption and Fostering Panel and Decision Maker, sharing some of the child’s information with potential adopters or carers’, providing the confidentiality of the child is maintained. Foster carers and adopters must be kept aware that the plan has not yet been approved at Adoption and Fostering Panel and that this is an exploration only, of how they might meet a child’s needs. Approval must be sought from the Fostering and Adoption Team Manager before this begins.
Once the recommendation for adoption and fostering has been approved an active, formal search can be made for potential adopters or carers.
Please note, it is the child’s placing agency that determines the Linking and Matching Procedures. These are Moray Procedures.
Provisional Matching of child and potential carers
Once the plan is approved by the Agency Decision Maker, an exchange of Form E/Child’s Report and Form F is made between the child’s Social Worker and the relevant Fostering and Adoption Link Social Worker to consider a potential match.
- Linking Meeting
This meeting will only take place if more than one adoptive or foster family is being considered.
The Linking Meeting will be convened and chaired by the Reviewing Officer or Fostering and Adoption Senior or Team Manager. Those attending in addition to the chair will be the Child’s Social Worker and / or Senior, the Fostering and Adoption link social workers for all of the potential adopters or foster carers and/ or Senior and the Fostering and Adoption Link Social Worker for the child’s current placement.
A decision will be made as to which placement option will be progressed, based on the needs of the child agreed at the Child’s Profile Meeting, the Business Meeting, information contained in the Form E/Child’s Report and the Adoption and Fostering Panel Minute.
The minute must record brief details of all potential matches considered and reasons why these were not progressed. This information will be required at the Matching Panel. The process includes setting and recording an order of preference of the potential placements.
If only one family is identified, then the Fostering and Adoption Link Social Worker for the child’s carers and/or The Fostering and Adoption Team Senior, the Child's Social Worker and/or their Senior and The Fostering and Adoption Social Worker for the prospective carers will meet together for full discussion of the carers’ suitability to meet the child’s needs. A minute must be taken of this discussion.
- Visits to potential placements
The child’s Social Worker or Senior will visit the first placement on the list, with the Adopter’s/carer’s Fostering and Adoption link social worker. These carers only will have received a copy of the Form E/Child’s Report. For out of area placements, the Fostering and Adoption Social Worker should be present.
If after this visit it is not considered to be a viable match, the next potential placement can be visited.
Only one placement is recommended to the Matching Panel
- Important timing considerations
In the meantime, Legal Services will be lodging the application for a Permanence Order, with or without Authority to Adopt, with the Court, if this is the decision of the Agency. There is no strict time limit regarding the lodging of the Permanence Order application so a child may be moved e.g. to the care of prospective adopters, before the application is lodged.
There is a time limit of 28 days from the date of the Children’s Panel Advice Hearing to lodging the POA application in court. Once the POA is lodged the Children’s Hearing have to refer the case to the Sheriff, to change the place of residence, before they are allowed to vary the Supervision Requirement.
For placements in Moray, once the decision has been made to recommend a specific placement, a meeting will be arranged by the Fostering & Adoption Link Social Worker for the adopters/carers, between the adopters/carers, the current foster carers, the Medical Advisor (if necessary) and a representative from legal services (if necessary).
This discussion is not to provide advice to the carers but to inform them about the intended legal route to permanence and to ensure adopters/carers have full information on the child (as per National Care Standards). The involvement of the foster carers is designed to inform the adopters’ or carers’ understanding of the children’s needs and to facilitate a positive relationship between adopters/carers and foster carers which may then help in the transition. For guidance about these meetings, refer to 'Helping Children Join Adoptive Families’, Sheila Byrne.
These meetings will be after the decision has been made to progress the adopters/carers as a match, but prior to matching panel.
For placements outwith Moray, the procedures for this stage may be different; check with the Local Authority/agency in question.
- Completion of Report for Matching Panel
The matching form is completed in collaboration by child’s Social Worker and the Fostering and Adoption Link Social Worker to chosen adopters/carers.
- Matching Panel
The child’s Social Worker and the Fostering and Adoption Link Social Worker attend the Panel. In Moray, adopters and carers do not attend the meeting.
Matching forms are presented, and a brief additional report by the child’s Social Worker is submitted outlining the process of considering and selecting prospective families, how many were considered, giving limited details on the families visited and giving reasons for their not being recommended.
Child’s Social Workers to ensure adopters / carers have all necessary written information re the child, including written medical information.
Once a match has been made adopters and current carers, their link workers and the child’s Social Worker, all meet to complete the H2 and plan introductions. These are confirmed at a second co-ordination meeting.
Adoption Support Plan Decision Making Process
Process for decision making concerned with adoption support plans for individual people: -
(i) Request made for assessment of adoption support needs
We can prompt relevant people as defined in the legislation to make request assuming there is evidence that there may be need and the person who might make any request has not appreciated their requirement to make formal request.
(ii) Request if made through engagement; intake and assessment or continuing support teams to be alerted to Placement Services Team Manager and Corporate Parenting & Commissioning Manager.
It is assumed the issue of assessment of adoption support needs will be considered when an adoption placement is made in which scenario the Placement Services Team Manager and the Corporate Parenting & Commissioning Manager would be alert to those assessments.
Workers in the community based teams (engagement; intake and assessment or continuing support) should be particularly alert to requests made for assessment of adoption support needs where the placement was made before this new legislation/ or following time passing and needs emerging that had not been anticipated at time of placement. Workers in the community based teams will need to seek advice from their relevant SSW who must advise the Placement Services Team Manager. The reason for this flow of communication is to plan between placement services and community based teams how the assessment will be progressed.
The Placement Services Team Manager will advise the Corporate Parenting and Commissioning Manager of the request for assessment.
(iii) Appropriate request and event to be created on Carefirst
Workers must be specific within Carefirst when assessment is concerned with adoption support.
The Placement Services Team Manager and the Corporate Parenting and Commissioning Manager will confirm that the request meets the criteria within legislation of those who may seek assessment for adoption support and equally of those who may seek assessment resulting in formulation of adoption support plan.
The Placement Services Team Manager and the Corporate Parenting and Commissioning Manager, with relevant area manager, if appropriate, will agree who will undertake the assessment of needs: - community based SW and/ or Placement Services SW.
It is assumed that when new adoption placements are being made the team which is the team round that child as part of child’s needs meeting will consider adoption support needs (of child and others who meet the criteria). This early consideration at child’s needs meeting does not preclude those directly affected seeking update and review of their adoption needs at any other time.
(v) Timescale – the assessment must start within 4 weeks.
(vi) “Agency decision maker” for post Adoption Support Decision making
The Placement Services Team Manager and the Corporate Parenting and Commissioning Manager will have a lead role in contacting any of the following and advising of the adoption assessment and confirming their role in this process.
Those who will constitute the panel for Decision Making for Post Adoption Support in Moray will be:
Placement Services Team Manager
Corporate Parenting and Commissioning Manager
Relevant Team Manager (engagement; intake & assessment; continuing support)
Plus where appropriate: -
Principal Educational Psychologist*
Child Health Community Medicine*.
• Any or all of the above* will be approached to confirm their need to be part of the decision making process. Their part will be concerned with:
(a) seeking to ensure resources that might be identified as being required are available through universal services and
(b) confirming how to access those
(c) confirming through which source specific / targeted allocation can be accessed, if additional to (a) above
(e) or advising if targeted allocation cannot be accessed, and why not
(f) suggesting alternative options
(vii) The people agreed at (IV), will begin the process of assessment of needs. The timescale that requires being worked within is 12 weeks for assessment. The assessors will be alert to resource but should assess and record need.
The draft – the assessment and report MUST say “draft” and should be presented to the Decision making Panel for consultation/ consideration. The Panel will comprise no less than Placement Services Team Manager and the Corporate Parenting and Commissioning Manager plus either the Relevant Team Manager (engagement; intake & assessment; continuing support), education or health. It may be there is no need for call on health or education resources.
(viii) Those Decision Making Panel members will confer within their systems to confirm access and timing to universal provision or whether or not specific resource will be identified and agreed with indication of timing.
(ix) The Decision Making Panel members will refer back to those who completed the assessment. If adjustment to the draft assessment is required those concerned must be clear why amendment is being made and record that. E.g. need can be met through acceleration through universal service or other routes to meet need may be required e.g. resource panel.
(x) Those seeking assessment for adoption support should consider the assessment and confirm in writing their agreement to the draft plan, assuming there is agreement. Otherwise adjustment will be made to the draft plan.
(xi) The draft plan must be formally given to the Decision Making Panel members who must confirm in writing their agreement to what, when signed, will be the Adoption support plan – no longer draft.
(xii) Signatories to the Plan will be the Decision Making Panel members.
Preparation of Adoption Records
When an Adoption Order is granted, the child’s social worker needs to create a reduced adoption file for archiving.
The purpose of this file is to allow the adopted person easy access to information about their early life and the issues which led to the decision to place them for adoption, and so make sense of their own history.
Documents and reports to be included are specified below, however it is important in deciding what to retain to assess which reports, letters or case notes could:-
a) Help the adopted person in the future with questions about their origins, family history and family composition.
b) Clarify a situation and assist a counsellor with further work with an adopted person.
c) Provide evidence of action taken, e.g. that review recommendations were acted on.
It is important also that all documents, reports and letters are dated. If no date is attached to records, social workers are asked to give an approximate date.
Steps in Creating an Adoption File
1. Following the granting of the Adoption Order, the social work file is closed in the child’s birth name. There will be no cross referencing to child’s adoption file.
2. An adoption file is created to contain the following information, where applicable:
(a) A front sheet with basic information on the child (see Appendix 1).
(b) BAAF form E.
(c) Adoption Panel minutes on child.
(d) Correspondence with/from birth parents if any. This is especially important when letters from the parents are hand written, so the adopted person can have sight of their birth parents hand-writing
(e) Any photographs of birth family, extended family or foster carers which, for whatever reason, have not already been given to the adoptive parents at the time of placement.
(f) Reports relating to birth family and substitute care.
(g) Case notes of significant events only, both positive and negative, including significant foster carer records.
(h) Assumption of Parental Rights reports.
(i) Applications for POA.
(j) Reports dealing with dispensation of parental agreement to POA or adoption.
(k) LAC Review minutes (not social worker reports) where decisions are recorded.
(l) Educational Psychologists reports.
(m) Reception into care forms.
(n) Initial and subsequent medical reports.
(o) Children’s Hearing reports.
(p) Children’s Hearing Orders.
(q) Signed acknowledgement of parents’ receipt of explanatory memorandum for POA or adoption.
(r) BAAF medical/social report on mother and, where applicable, father of the child.
(s) BAAF obstetric report on mother.
(t) BAAF neonatal report on infant (issued by hospital where child was born).
(u) BAAF medical report on child examined for adoption placement.
(v) Matching report on child and minute of matching panel.
All reports should be filed in chronological order beginning with when the child was first known to social work.
These files are primarily for assisting with adoption counselling at a later date, but several of these retained documents are kept as evidence of appropriate procedure having been followed and of consequent action having been taken.
All other material should be placed in the child’s closed social work file and retained for the normal length of time, according to the Council retention/destruction policy, before being destroyed.
The completed adoption file should be passed to the Archive Keeper within the Fostering and Adoption Team for storage and retention for the required 100 years. The receipt of these files will be recorded on the spreadsheet primarily under the child’s adopted name and cross referenced with their birth name.
Very clear notes on the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 are available at Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007
Problems / amendments required to LAC Manual?
Please contact Linda Pearce