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6.2.3 Fostering for Adoption/Concurrency

RELATED GUIDANCE

DfE, The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2015)

Fostering For Adoption: Practice Guidance (Coram, BAAF)

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in September 2016 to add a note that if there is any change to the circumstances of prospective carers, including relatives, there should be a professionals meeting and the carers should be informed so that they can consider their position as well as the local authority. (See Section 2.1, Fostering for Adoption).


Contents

  1. Policy
  2. Procedure


1. Policy

Fostering for adoption and concurrent placements are paths to early permanence for some children. Changes to Statutory Guidance for Adoption and the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 (as amended 2013) ensure that the regulatory mechanisms are in place to allow this to happen.

The Children and Families Act 2014 imposes a duty on local authorities to consider fostering for adoption placements in all cases where adoption may be the plan. The advantage is that the child can be placed right from the beginning of their time in care and even from birth with a family who have the potential to become their adopters.

These types of placements are to be considered for any child whom the local authority have assessed as being highly unlikely to return to their birth family and it is aimed at children under the age of two years old.

This procedure will set out what is to happen when such a child or children are identified and indeed how those children should be identified. Bolton Council have a commissioned arrangement with 'Caritas', a voluntary adoption agency for the provision of concurrent placements.

Fostering for adoption carers will be recruited by Bolton Council and may also be sought from another local authority provider.

The difference between a Concurrent Placement and a fostering to adopt placement is primarily in the status and preparation of the carers. Concurrent carers will be approved from the outset as both foster carers and adopters. They will be more prepared for the possible return home of the child placed with them. Given this difference it is likely that concurrent carers could take a child where there is slightly more risk that the child might return home to birth family.

Fostering for adoption carers are firstly adopters who can be temporarily approved as foster carers for a specific child (under Regulation 25 (A) of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 (as amended 2013).

Children placed with these types of carers are expecting to be able to adopt the child placed with them and although they will be fully aware of the legal uncertainties of that until the finalisation of Care Proceedings, it is likely that only children where there is very little chance of return to birth family would be placed with such carers.

It is therefore essential in considering such placements that comprehensive assessments have taken place and that all potential family options for the child have been considered prior to placement.

It is therefore likely that all such placements will be planned and may include siblings of children already adopted or placed for adoption and may be considered at pre birth meetings where there are significant concerns about the birth families ability to parent the child.


2. Procedure

2.1 Fostering for Adoption

The Children and Families Act 2014 imposes a duty on local authorities to consider fostering for adoption placements in all cases where adoption may be the plan. The possibility of placing a child with Fostering for Adoption carers should therefore be given consideration at a very early stage in the involvement of the local authority with the family.

It is likely to be considered where the family have been previously known to the authority and where significant concerns have previously been identified or alternatively in pre birth cases where assessed ability to parent is extremely poor.

Once such a case is identified, the Adoption Team should be alerted and a meeting should be called to consider the appropriateness of the proposed plan. That meeting should be chaired by the District Team Manager responsible for the case. The child's social worker, Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO), a representative from the Adoption Team, from the Fostering Team and from the legal department should be invited.

The meeting will consider:

  1. The prognosis for rehabilitation to birth parents, bearing in mind that this type of placement would only be appropriate if there was very little chance of that happening;
  2. What efforts have been made to ensure all family alternatives have been explored and eliminated as possible long term carers for the child;
  3. What if any further assessments are required in order to make a decision;
  4. Whether the best placement would be fostering for adoption or a concurrent planning placement.

Note: If, at any point during the planning of a Fostering for Adoption placement or if the child is already in such a placement, there is any change to the circumstances of prospective carers, including relatives, a planning meeting with the Fostering for Adoption carers and all professionals involved should take place to consider the new information at the earliest opportunity, so that the carers can make an informed choice about their position. Similarly, this also allows the local authority to consider their position in light of the change in circumstances.

If the decision is to pursue fostering for adoption then an immediate referral to the Adoption Team will be made. A family finder will be allocated.

Birth parents should be notified of the proposal at the earliest opportunity.

Any possible adopters will be identified by the family finder and the PARs shared with the child's social worker. This may be a Bolton family or a family from another agency.

If there is an appropriate match then the family will be visited by the family finder and the child's social worker in order to discuss the proposed placement. The prospective carers should be visited by a worker from the Fostering Team to properly advise them of the expectations of their role as foster carers once the child is placed. If, following these visits, the family wish to pursue the placement of the child and the social worker feels they are a good match with the child to be placed then the child's social worker and family finder will complete the matching report and summary report for the Agency Decision Maker.

The agency decision maker will decide whether the placement can go ahead. Once signed agreement is received then the placement of the child can take place in the usual way.

A Placement Planning Meeting should be held prior to placement whilst all the arrangements are made paying particular attention to issues surrounding any proposed contact.

The legal department and IRO will be made aware of the proposed placement as will the birth parents. It may be appropriate for the birth parents to meet the adopters at this stage as this may be helpful for all parties. It is essential however, that any information shared with the birth family is anonymous in that addresses and surnames MUST remain confidential as must any information that may lead to their identification in the future.

2.2 Concurrent Planning Placements

Concurrent placements will be considered in the same way as Fostering for Adoption placements.

At the point that the decision is taken to pursue concurrent placement rather than fostering for adoption placement then:

  1. The Adoption team will allocate a worker who will make a referral to 'Caritas' to request a placement. This referral should be made as soon as possible so that every chance is given to finding a suitable family;
  2. The adoption team and child's social worker will receive potential PAR 's for consideration;
  3. If an appropriate match is found then a matching form and short report as to the reasons why concurrent placement is felt to be appropriate would be presented to the Agency Decision Maker for approval;
  4. The child can be placed with the carers once the Agency Decision Maker has decided that this is the best plan for the child;
  5. The placement is then treated in the same way as any other foster placement however; expectations of the concurrent carers with regards to contact need to be carefully thought through.

2.3 Contact Arrangements

It is essential that contact arrangements are carefully considered for any proposed concurrent or fostering to adopt placement.

A reasoned case must be presented to the court about the value of any proposed contact arrangements given that the child will in all probability not be returning to the family's care and in some cases having never been in their care.

The possible quality of that contact needs to be considered too and levels of contact proposed need to be in line with the local authority plan for the child to be adopted.

Where some contact is proposed then the arrangements for that contact need to be carefully considered. The adopters will need to be involved in discussions about who supervises the contact and who takes the child to contact sessions. If it is both appropriate and safe for Fostering for Adoption Carers to support the contact arrangements themselves then they should be supported to do so but not left alone with birth family members and any meetings closely supervised.

There is no expectation that concurrent carers or fostering for adoption carers will facilitate contact in all cases.

2.4 Post Placement

Once the Fostering for Adoption placement is approved the child can be placed and the placement should be treated for all purposes of administration and process as though a fostering placement. The usual agency procedure and process in respect of adoption planning will apply thereafter. As soon as a Placement Order is obtained the match should be presented to Adoption Panel without delay. Once the match is ratified by the Agency Decision Maker, the carers are no longer Fostering for Adoption carers but prospective adopters. The placement will no longer require supervision from the fostering team.

Once the match is ratified, provided the child has been in placement for more than 10 weeks, the adopters may make their adoption application to the courts.

End