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4.1.3b Placement for Adoption - No Parental Consent/Court Proceedings

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter was inserted into the manual in October 2012 to reflect the changes made by the Adoption Agencies (Panel and Consequential Amendments) Regulations 2012 with effect from 1 September 2012.

This procedure applies to cases where the criteria apply for a Placement Order. These cases will no longer be referred to the Adoption and Permanence Panel for a recommendation, but will be referred directly to the Agency Decision Maker for a decision.

Cases where there is parental consent and there will be no application for a Placement Order, will continue to be referred to the Adoption and Permanence Panel, as will the cases of children under the age of 8 for whom the plan is permanent fostering. For those cases, see Placement for Adoption - Parental Consent Procedure.

This chapter should be read in conjunction with Appendix A: Flowchart - Considering and Deciding if a Child should be Adopted.

RELATED CHAPTER

Placement for Adoption - Parental Consent Procedure.

RELATED GUIDANCE

Contact After Adoption - Support materials for practitioners working on making positive post-adoption contact plans and supporting birth relatives and adopters through contact planning for their child

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in August 2017 with a link into Related Guidance to Contact After Adoption website.


Contents

  1. Background and Context
  2. Obtaining Agency Approval
  3. After the Decision

    Appendix A: Flowchart - Considering and Deciding if a Child should be Adopted

    Appendix B: Template for Adoption for Adoption Planning Meeting

    Appendix C: ADM Decision Sheet

    Appendix D: Welfare Checklist for Adoption


1. Background and Context

From 1 September 2012, not all cases must be referred to the Adoption and Permanence Panel. Cases where the criteria apply for the local authority to apply for a Placement Order, i.e. the child is the subject of a Care Order or the Threshold Criteria for a Care Order are satisfied or where there is no parent or guardian, will not be referred to the Adoption and Permanence Panel for a recommendation, but will be referred directly to the Agency Decision Maker for a decision. All other cases (i.e. where the parents have given consent and there is no application for a Placement Order) will continue to be referred to the Adoption and Permanence Panel for a recommendation, which the Agency Decision Maker will take into account when making a decision.

The following cases will continue to be presented to the Adoption and Permanence Panel:

  • Relinquished babies;
  • Children who are Accommodated under Section 20 Children Act 1989;
  • Children under the age of 8 for whom the plan is permanent fostering.

For such cases please see Placement for Adoption - Parental Consent Procedure.

The following cases will be referred directly to the Agency Decision Maker:

  • Cases where there are ongoing Court proceedings, such as Care Proceedings, and where a Placement Order will be applied for.

This procedure applies to such cases.

The decision that adoption is the right plan for a child can only be made by the Agency Decision Maker (ADM). In Islington the Agency Decision Makers are (i) the Director of Targeted and Specialist Children and Families Services, and (ii) in his or her absence, the Service Manager for Commissioning and Business Support. (There may be more than one Agency Decision Maker, but he/she cannot delegate the role.)

The target timescale is 6 weeks, from the moment a statutory review identifies that adoption is now the only viable plan for a child to the time when the decision is made as to whether adoption is the right plan for a child.


2. Obtaining Agency Approval

2.1 Responding to a Plan for Adoption

The Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) endorses adoption as the plan for a child at their statutory review. The social worker is then responsible for ensuring that the Adoption Manager is notified within 24 hours by email.

The Adoption Manager will convene an Adoption Planning Meeting within 1 week, these take place on Tuesdays.

The child's social worker must open an Adoption Case Record for the child. Where the plan relates to a group of siblings, there must be a separate Adoption Case Record for each child.

If not already obtained, the child's social worker should obtain 2 certified copies of the child's full birth certificate. These will be required for future Court applications and for the prospective adopters.

The child's social worker should give both birth parents a copy of the memorandum "Information for Parents on Adoption" and ask them to sign confirmation of receipt, a copy of which should be kept on the child's Adoption Case Record and a further copy should be handed to the parents.

If either or both of the birth parents refuse to accept or do not receive the memorandum, this should be recorded, including the reasons, on the child's case file and Adoption Case Record. Where the parents' address is known, the child's social worker should personally deliver or arrange for delivery by hand of a copy of the information to the address and record this on the Adoption Case Record.

If not already obtained, the child's social worker must seek the birth parents' Consent to the disclosure of information on their medical history to facilitate the Adoption Medical for the child

The child's social worker must discuss with the parents their views on the adoption plan, and arrange the necessary counselling and support for both of the birth parents and any other significant relatives. If either or both of the parents decline or refuse counselling and/or support, then this should be recorded, including the reasons, in the child's file and Adoption Case Record.

Where one or both of the birth parents cannot be found, the child's social worker must make extensive enquiries as to their whereabouts. The social worker should write to the parent's last known address and contact the Department of Works and Pensions and other agencies (including the Council Tax Register, the Passport Office and the housing authority) as appropriate. Consideration should also be given to the need to place advertisements in the local and national press and legal advice should be sought as to any additional steps that should be taken.

The child's social worker must contact the child's health visitor or school health for current information in relation to the child's health and development.

The child's social worker must contact the child's school or the relevant local education authority for current information in relation to the child's educational needs.

The child's social worker must ask the child's carer to complete a report on the child. (This will be required for the Child's Permanence Report - see Section 2.4, The Child’s Adoption Bundle).

The child's social worker must ensure that the adoption plan addresses the issue of post-placement and post-adoption contact. This will include a possible meeting between the parents and the adopters, and whether there may be ongoing direct contact or indirect contact via a letterbox system.

If the child has siblings, the plan must analyse the relationship between each child in the sibling group and, if the decision is to place siblings separately, address the issue of post-placement and post-adoption contact between them.

The child's social worker must also carry out an assessment of the likely needs for adoption support services in relation to the child (including the likely need for financial support), the birth parents and any other person with a significant relationship to the child. For the detailed procedures, see Adoption Support Procedure.

2.2 The Adoption Planning Meeting

The Adoption Planning Meeting (APM) is chaired by the Adoption Manager and must be attended by the child’s social worker and their manager or another manager in their absence (e.g. Team Manager).

The purpose of the Adoption Planning meeting is:

  • To check there are no outstanding assessments which may delay the plan;
  • To ensure there is a workable contact plan;
  • To identify matching criteria and check if any LBI adopters are suitable, including any concurrent families and / or to initiate searching for an adoptive family in the Consortium or beyond;
  • To have a foster carer’s report written to help identify matching criteria;
  • To ensure the adoption plan is ready to go to the ADM, taking into account the Welfare Checklist (see Appendix D: Welfare Checklist for Adoption) and agree the key documents that should be part of the adoption bundle for the Agency Decision Maker;
  • To set a timetable to achieve the 6 week target for achieving the Agency Decision Maker decision.

All professionals attending Adoption Planning Meetings must ensure they are familiar with the background of the child and the circumstances that have led to the view that adoption should be the plan; it is not the function of the meeting to revisit this in detail. The purpose of this meeting is to quality-assure the process and assist in progressing the case for consideration by the Agency Decision Maker.

Adoption Planning meetings will be minuted by Panel Administrators, who will also support practitioners to track agreed timescales agreed by the meeting and send out reminders at key points of the process. A template for the minutes can be seen at Appendix B: Template for Adoption for Adoption Planning Meeting.

Where an Adoption Planning Meeting does not believe a child’s adoption plan is ready to refer to the Agency Decision Maker they will set a date for another Adoption Planning Meeting.

2.3 Family Finding

Family Finding meetings will commence when the Adoption Planning Meeting agrees that the child should be referred to the Agency Decision Maker. These will be held monthly and the first meeting must include the child’s current foster carer.

Non-identifying information about the child can be produced and shared with prospective adopters and submitted to the national adoption register and shared with the Consortium

If no suitable adopter(s) are identified within 3 months, a review meeting will be held and chaired by the Adoption Manager. Thereafter, every 3 months until a suitable family is identified or the plan is changed.

2.4 The Child’s Adoption Bundle

The main documents for considering and deciding whether a child should be adopted is the Child’s Permanence Report and the Welfare Checklist. These reports and any other agreed reports should be ready for the Agency Advisor (Adoption Manager) to quality assure within 3 weeks of the Adoption Planning Meeting.

Documents must not be emailed, they should be available to be quality assured on ICS and the Agency Advisor will use the Quality Assurance Case Note to evidence she has read the papers and provide any actions required if there are documents that are not yet ready. The Agency Advisor should read ICS within 3 working days of notification from the social worker.

If a practitioner wishes to read a document on paper it is their responsibility to download and print it and therefore their responsibility to make sure it is destroyed when no longer required.

If the Agency Advisor finds there are changes required to the paperwork submitted, the social worker must complete this within 3 working days of feedback.

When the bundle is ready, the Agency Advisor will advise the panel administrator that the case is ready to proceed to the Agency Decision Maker and provide a list of the agreed documents that constitute part of the bundle. These must all be viewable on ICS.

The Child's Permanence Report must be written by a the social worker who knows the child best who must also be a qualified social worker with suitable experience (see Adoption and Permanence Panel Procedure, Reports to Adoption and Permanence Panel).

The following areas must be included or addressed in the Report:

  • Profile of the child, based on a report from the child's current carer as well as other information about the child's personality, nationality, racial origin, religious persuasion, legal status and relationship with his/her birth family;
  • A summary, written by the agency’s medical adviser, of the state of the child’s health, health history and any need for health care which might arise in the future;
  • A chronology of the child's life since birth;
  • The preparation work, undertaken and planned, with the child and the views of the child in relation to the adoption plan and future contact with his or her birth family;
  • The views of the Children's Guardian (where possible);
  • The views of the birth family and significant others in relation to the adoption plan and contact;
  • A report of the child's educational history and current needs, including the Personal Education Plan (PEP);
  • The child’s preferred method of communication should be known and there should be no assumption that a child is unable to communicate;
  • Any other relevant specialist reports on the child;
  • An assessment of the child's emotional and behavioural development;
  • An assessment of the child's needs for post-placement and post-adoption contact, including with siblings, and the child's and birth relatives' needs for adoption support services;
  • A Chronology of the decisions and actions taken by the agency with respect to the child;
  • An analysis of the options for the child's future care and the alternatives to adoption considered;
  • Where the child has siblings, whether the decision is to place siblings separately or together and the rationale for the decision;
  • Any other information which the agency considers relevant.

Those parts of the Report that contain factual information about the birth family should be shared with the relevant family members to enable them to confirm their accuracy and agree to it being passed on to a child in due course. Any such agreement should be clearly recorded on the child’s case record. Each of the child’s parents should be shown those parts of the Report which set out their views and wishes, and given the opportunity, if they so wish, to express these in their own words. Where appropriate, the relevant sections of the Report should also be provided to the child. When shared the parents should be asked to sign the Report to confirm they have seen it and have had the opportunity to provide any written comments they wish to make.

2.5 The Agency Decision Maker Process

The panel administrator will inform the Agency Decision Maker that there is an adoption plan ready to be considered and provide him or her with a list of documents on ICS that form part of the adoption bundle and provide the name and contact details of the relevant legal and medical adviser.

The Agency Decision Maker will review the bundle within 5 working days of receiving the notification and make a decision. The template for the Decision Sheet can be seen at Appendix C: ADM Decision Sheet.

The Agency Decision Maker must review the bundle in full and request any additional legal or medical advice should he or she require this, within the 5 day period. Any new information obtained must be recorded in ICS.

The Agency Decision Maker can request a discussion with or seek clarification from the Agency Advisor if he or she wishes to do so. This can be via a face to face meeting, via a telephone discussion or via email.

The Agency Decision Maker will summarise any discussions had or consultation sought and set out the key arguments to support his or her decision using the Decision Sheet.

2.6 Changing the Adoption Plan

At any stage of this process if the plan for adoption is no longer viable the matter should be reported to the Independent Reviewing Officer who may wish to consider bringing forward the next planned statutory review in order to review the Care Plan.


3. After the Decision

The parents will be informed orally of the agency’s decision within two working days and written confirmation should be sent to them within five working days. These arrangements will be made by the Agency Decision Maker in conjunction with the child’s social worker.

The letter setting out the agency decision will be sent by recorded delivery, except where delivery by hand has been agreed as appropriate, in which case the letter will be forwarded to the social worker for delivery by hand. The child's social worker will also ensure that the child is informed of the decision in a timely and age-appropriate way.

Where Designated Manager (Placement Orders) has made a decision to seek a Placement Order in relation to the child, the child's social worker should consult Legal Services in order to prepare the Court application.

The procedure in relation to the following will be the same as in the Placement for Adoption - Parental Consent Procedure, specifically the following sections of that procedure:


Appendix A: Flowchart - Considering and Deciding if a Child should be Adopted

Click here to view flowchart - Considering and Deciding if a Child should be Adopted


Appendix B: Template for Adoption for Adoption Planning Meeting

Click here to view Template for Adoption for Adoption Planning Meeting


Appendix C: ADM Decision Sheet

Click here to view ADM Decision Sheet


Appendix D - Welfare Checklist for Adoption

(This should be available as a standalone form in ICS very shortly)

Taken from the Adoption and Children Act 2002 Guidance: Introduction

The court or adoption agency must have regard to the following matters (among others):

  1. The child’s ascertainable wishes and feelings regarding the decision (considered in the light of the child’s age and understanding);
  2. The child’s particular needs;
  3. The likely effect on the child (throughout his life) of having ceased to be a member of the original family and become an adopted person;
  4. The child’s age, sex, background and any of the child’s characteristics which the court or agency considers relevant;
  5. Any harm (within the meaning of the Children Act 1989) which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering.

End