Skip to main content


View London Child Protection Procedures View London Child Protection Procedures

3.1.8 Permanence Planning Protocol


This chapter was updated in December 2021 and should be re-read in its entirety.


  1. Introduction and Purpose
  2. Adoption Planning, Relinquished Babies and Early Permanence
  3. Permanency Planning Meetings
  4. Permanence Planning Meetings for Children in PLO or Care Proceedings that are not Looked After
  5. Family Finding for children up to the age of 10
  6. Supporting Placement Stability
  7. Life Story Work

1. Introduction and Purpose

If children and young people are unable to remain with their birth parents and experience the trauma and loss of separation as well as earlier adversities, it is essential that they have the opportunity to form reparative, long-term relationships to build resilience.

Our aim is for all children and young people in our care to have a safe, effective and stable placement as early as possible, including through SGO, adoption and long term fostering.

The practice outlined in this protocol aims to ensure that effective planning for children and young people takes place at the earliest possible opportunity. This is in order to identify stable placements with carers who are in tune with their needs, so that children and young people achieve the best possible outcomes in the right placement for them.

Permanency Planning Meetings (PPM) will be required for all children up to the age of 14 who have come into Local Authority care and for all cases where care proceedings have been issued. They will be chaired by the Permanency Team Manager and Practice Manager. Adopt London North should be invited to all Permanency Planning meetings for children under the age of 7 and older if adoption is a possibility.

Practitioners should ensure children and young people’s views about their placements are fully considered and a full age appropriate explanation given to them about decisions that are made.

This protocol applies to the Children Looked After, Children with Disability and Children in Need services.

Initial Formulation meetings

Clinicians allocated to CLA teams and Independent Futures will facilitate an initial meeting of the parenting team when children and young people first come into Local Authority care, to include CIN and CLA social workers, Young People’s Advisers (YPA) Supervising Social Workers (SSW), Advisory Teacher from the Virtual School and foster carers (or keyworkers) to share and consider children and young people’s formative experiences and needs. Other significant professionals in the child’s lives should also be invited.

These meetings should take place before the first looked after review apart from cases transferring to Independent Futures when they should take place within 6 weeks.

In this discussion, an initial trauma informed formulation of the child’s experiences will be developed to inform the foster carers (or keyworkers) and SW/YPAs understanding of the expressed and unexpressed needs the child is likely to bring to the relationship, interaction and communication with their carers.

The discussion will also provide an opportunity for the parenting team to consider any concerns, feelings (anxiety) that the parenting team may have about the plan to look after the child and the support available to manage this. The overall aim is for the parenting team to have an opportunity to develop a shared understanding of the child’s current and developmental needs and consider ways the carer and SWs will work together to support the child in the initial phase of being looked after. Trauma formulations will be written up by the clinician within 2 weeks of the meeting and should be placed on the child’s file.

These trauma formulations should be used to help inform any future searches for short or permanent placements for children and be incorporated into the placement specification.

2. Adoption Planning, Relinquished Babies and Early Permanence

If adoption is being considered as a plan for the child, an immediate discussion should take place and a permanency planning meeting should be set up with the Permanency Team Manager. There should be no delay in waiting for care proceedings to be initiated. A Social Worker from Adopt London North will be invited. The meeting will be chaired by the Permanency Team Manager. S/he will be responsible for the minutes to be written up within 10 working days of the meeting taking place.

These discussions should consider the possibility of early permanence via adoption for the child, including whether a foster to adopt placement is appropriate.

If adoption is agreed as the long term plan for the child the Permanence Team will act as the lead for the adoption plan, liaising with the CLA Social Work Team and Adopt London North to ensure all appropriate reports are completed and timescales met.

In cases where a baby is being relinquished or siblings of the child have been adopted a discussion should be held immediately with the Permanency Team Manager and early permanence through adoption considered.

The Access to Care and Resource Panel should also make recommendations for Permanency Planning Meetings.

3. Permanency Planning Meetings

An initial permanency planning meeting needs to be requested for all children when proceedings have been issued and the date has been set for the Case Management Hearing (CMH), so that the first PPM can take place soon after the CMH. These will be chaired by the Permanency Team.

For children over the age of 14 (not in care proceedings) discussions around their permanency needs should take place in team around the child meetings and supervision.

The allocated Social Worker should request an initial permanence planning meeting with the Permanency Team Manager. This can be requested on LCS through forms, which will be overseen by the Permanence Team Manager.

The Social Worker will complete a referral form on LCS, outlining the child’s history, including their attachment history, and the permanence options being considered. They will also be asked to send any relevant expert reports that are already available, for example those that have been completed within the Public Outline (PLO) process.

The Permanency Team Manager will then make the decision, in conjunction with the child’s Social Worker, about whether any other professionals need to be invited to the meeting. Adopt London North will be invited to all Permanency Planning meetings for children under the age of 7 and older where adoption is being considered as one of the parallel plans. If there needs to be consideration for an early Fostering for Adopt placement the Social Worker should speak to Adopt London North as early as possible ready for discussion at the first PPM.

Minutes of the PPM will be taken by BSU and will be available within 7 working days on LCS. The minutes will automatically go into the forms section on LCS once approved by the Permanency Team Manager. The meeting must be attended by the child’s Social Worker and either a Practice Manager or Team Manager. Where cases are particularly complex, the relevant Team or Service Manager will be invited to attend.

The purpose of the initial PPMs is to explore all of the permanence options for the child, taking into account the child’s needs, and any siblings they have. PPMs should consider all aspects of permanency and the different options available including FGCs, reunification and placements with extended family members. PPMs should aim to ensure early planning around contact, adoption, completion of sibling assessments, family finding for permanent and long term foster placements and agree timescales for completion of sibling assessments, child permanence reports and the reunification framework where appropriate. PPMs should ensure effective parallel planning to ensure there is no delay to children and be clear about exploring alternatives and timescales for this.

Review PPMs should be booked as required but a PPM should take place around the time most of the assessments are due to be completed but before the final evidence and Care Plan is due. The PPM needs to explore what will be in the final care plan as well as early family finding planning.

Review PPMs should be booked in as needed to ensure effective ongoing discussions about care planning options. Service managers will chair PPM if there are complex issues to discuss or disagreements in relation to the care plan.

Any change of care plan should be agreed at the child’s CLA review by their IRO.

The purpose of a Permanency Planning Meeting is to consider:

  • The child’s formative developmental experiences, attachment experience and the impact of any trauma, abuse and loss to inform professionals and carers of their immediate and longer term needs;
  • What are the possible plans for the child / what is the final plan for the child?
  • Agree timescales for work;
  • What expert reports are available and how do they influence planning;
  • What further information is still needed to help make a permanence decision;
  • What the plans for contact are?
  • Are there siblings and what are their plans? Is a sibling assessment required?
  • What other processes are needed e.g. selection meeting / child permanence report etc.
  • What support will be required if rehabilitation to the birth family is being considered;
  • What support is needed for adopters or Special Guardians or for foster carers.

Family and Friends Care: consideration should be given to all children growing up within their extended family if they are not able to remain in the care of their parents. Assessments need to consider family and friends capacity to provide good reparative care throughout the child’s life. PPM should be used to comprehensively explore support that would be required if the child/ren was placed with their extended family, particularly around contact with their family and other significant people. Review PPMs may be combined with mid-way meetings which the Permanency team set up to discuss assessments of family and friends carers with the child’s social worker.

SGO support: The Permanency Team are responsible for providing SGO support and children should be supported to grow up outside of the care system with their extended family. Family and Friends long term fostering should only be considered in exceptional circumstances or for a limited time if the child does not know the family and has not lived with them. This should be with the agreement of the Service Manager for Fostering & Permanency or CLA.

Sibling Assessments – all sibling groups should have a Sibling Assessment completed if consideration is being given to them being separated. This assessment should be completed by the child’s Social Worker. Consultation is available from the Permanency Team. There should be a clear rationale when decisions are being made about whether to place siblings together or apart. These decisions should be shared with children in age appropriate ways. Sibling assessments should be signed off the Service Manager in CLA.

4. Permanence Planning Meetings for Children in PLO or Care Proceedings that are not Looked After

When Care Proceedings are initiated and the child is not Looked After, permanence planning is still vital for the child involved.

After the Case Management Conference (CMC) Court Hearing, the allocated Social Worker should request a permanence planning meeting within four weeks.

PPMs can be requested during the PLO process prior to proceedings being initiated to assist permanence and care planning. In these circumstances if the case is about to be transferred to the CLA service they should be invited to attend.

Consultation from the Permanency Team about any aspects of permanency is available by contacting the duty line between 10am-1pm each day.

5. Family Finding for children up to the age of 10

If long term foster care is identified as the permanence plan for a child up to the age of 10, then a family finding Social Worker will be allocated from the Permanency Team. They will work alongside the Social Worker and Supervising Social Worker and Deputy Team Manager in the Placement Service who will be responsible for commissioning permanent/long term foster families.

Responsibilities for family finding will be agreed at the PPM. Family finders will be responsible for completing profiles on children and young people up to the age of 10 (and these will be used by the Placement Service to assist in identifying potential carers). Photos, videos etc. should be used where appropriate. Both the family finder and the child’s Social Worker should read assessments of in house and IFA foster carers in order to assess suitability.

The placements team should attempt to identify a family through the in-house fostering service or within our consortium. The Placements Team will also undertake placement searches including holding specific recruitment events where trauma formulations about children requiring a home are made by the children’s Social Workers. The focus needs to be on finding the right carer for the child and if that is not possible in house then IFA carers need to be considered. Where a child’s current foster placement is being considered as a permanent home, careful assessment and a joint visit with the CLA Social Worker and the Family Finder from the Permanence Team to the foster carer will be arranged. Matching though a selection meeting is then required to select the carer (s) support the long term stability of the placement of the child or young person.

For children over the age of 10, the placement team will lead on family finding.

Selection meetings

If long term fostering is a likely outcome for the child, early planning to help secure the right placement for the child as soon as possible is crucial and planning for this should not wait until the conclusion of care proceedings.

Once suitable foster carers have been identified, a selection meeting should be held. This meeting will be chaired by a Manager from the Permanency Team for children under the age of 10 and the Team Manager in CLA for children from 10 up to the age of 14. It will include the child’s Social Worker and the Practice or Team Manager, the Supervising Social Worker and any other relevant professionals.

The purpose of the meeting is to ensure everyone is:

  • Formally select the best carer;
  • Clear how the placement will meet the child’s needs, including their emotional, developmental and reparative needs throughout the child’s minority;
  • Clear what the child’s view is regarding the potential plans;
  • Clear how the child and family’s history will be shared with the carers;
  • That there is an agreed support plan for the child and the carer;
  • The role of the agency support if this is an IFA placement.

Once a carer has been selected a date should be set for the case to go to the Fostering & Permanency Panel (if child or one of a group of siblings is under the age of 10) or the Long Term Fostering panel if the child is over the age of 10. A date should be agreed for when paperwork will be completed. If there is a reason for purposeful delay a further review PPM should be booked to consider how the placement is progressing and agree dates for the match to be taken to Panel.

Paperwork required

Fostering & Permanency Panel: The carers Form F and latest annual review will be presented with the child’s permanency and matching report. The report is completed by the social worker and the supervising social worker. Panel will make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Manager (Assistant Director CLA) as to the suitability of the match.

Long Term Fostering Panel: This panel is chaired by the Service Manager for Fostering & Permanency. Panel membership includes the Designated Doctor for CLA, Head of the Virtual School and Service Manager CLA. The Supervising Social Worker (in house or IFA) will be responsible for completing the matching report for the Long Term Fostering Panel. This will be presented with the child’s Care Plan and a copy of their PEP.

The children’s views as to their long term match should be fully considered as there may be some older children who may not wish for their placement to be confirmed as long term for the time being. Such decisions should be recorded on the child’s file and timescales for reviewing this agreed.


If a worker is unhappy with the permanence plan, or process of agreeing a permanence plan, this should initially be raised with their Team Manager, and if not resolved then it should be escalated to the Service Manager for CLA or Permanency and Fostering.

If children are unhappy with their permanence plan, this should be highlighted within the permanence planning process, and their IRO should be alerted. Children should be offered the option of an advocate through CAIS so that they have independent support to represent their views.

Multi Agency Formulation Meetings

Multi-agency formulation meetings can be held to agree the formulation for children looked after identified as in need of permanency where there are complex needs. All professionals involved with the child should attend. They will be held for children leaving secure settings (Criminal, welfare and Tier 4), Children placed at home awaiting a placement at risk of exploitation and for children who have complex needs and we are struggling to find a placement for them.

The meeting will also be responsible for drafting a placement specification for the child to inform commissioning.

The Placements Service will identify providers and engage in trauma informed discussions with providers who will then be sent the referral paperwork along with an invitation to attend a formulation presentation.

The formulation presentation will be facilitated by a Placements Manager and the lead professionals and multi-agency network will present the child.

Where an initial trauma formulation has not been completed a CAMHS clinician will either attend the formulation meeting (subject to availability) in order to draft the clinical formulation or if they are unable to attend the teams the CAMHS clinician should provide a clinical consultation for children who fall within the above categories.

6. Supporting Placement Stability

Embedding our practice model is crucial to helping ensure stable good placements for children and young people that help them to come to terms with their losses, build resilience and achieve good outcomes. Purposeful, child focused and trauma informed support should be provided by the team around the child/carer on an ongoing basis utilising personal and group supervision, coaching, clinical and PACE consultations.

Team around the Child Meetings (TAC) should be held regularly to ensure good communication and reflection on the needs of the child/young person and their carer(s). The frequency of these should be based on need but should occur at least every six months alternating between reviews. Where cases are joint funded with Health and Education TACs should take place at regularly intervals, at least once every 6 months. Carers should always be invited to these meetings.

Where a placement is in difficulty a Supporting the Placement meeting should be held. This should be chaired by the Practice Manager from CLA or Independent Futures and should be attended by the carers and all professionals involved with the child or young person. This meeting needs to focus on the strengths of the placement and how these might be built on, the challenges and the support required to help ensure the placement is sustainable where this in the child or young person’s interest.

Practitioners can bring the case to the Placement Stability Panel should it be considered that additional support may be needed to sustain the placement. Unless an emergency all placement moves must be agreed the Placement Stability Meeting which takes place weekly and is chaired by the Service Manager in CLA. The Service Manager of Fostering and Permanency, Independent Futures, the Virtual Head and Manager of the Placement Service also attend this meeting. All placement moves in Independent Futures apart from moves from Spot provision to the HASS pathway or moves within the HASS pathway from assessment and progression to visiting support will be discussed at the placement stability meeting. Emergency moves will be agreed by Service Managers.

7. Life Story Work

Life story work will be an integral part of all work completed by the CLA and IF service. It is expected that life story work will become built into all work undertaken with children and young people. All children who have been in care will be expected to have a life story book. Life story activities and worksheets will be collated in a life story folder that the child and young person can keep, and the workers will be expected to keep copies of these for the child’s file. Children and young people will be supported to have a life story box in which they keep items and objects that they consider important, and these will all be appropriately labelled with the support of the child’s Social Worker. Integrating life story work into everything our Social Workers do with children and their families and carers, will support children and young people to understand why they are in care, the decisions that have been made about them and it is hoped that this will help to support placement stability.

Later life letters should be completed for all children looked after and updated when a social worker leaves and when the case transfers to IF. Later life letters should also be completed where children are placed in Special Guardianship arrangements prior to the order being made. For adopted children the life story book and later life letter must be completed and handed over to adopters by the pronouncement hearing.