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5.1.4 Permanence for Children

RELEVANT CHAPTERS

Fostering for Adoption/Concurrency Procedure

Assessment of Sibling Relationships Procedure

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

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

AMENDMENT

Section 9, Adoption was amended in September 2013 to recognise a child for whom adoption is thought to be a likely outcome may be placed with prospective adopters who have been given temporary approval as foster carers.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Permanence Planning
  3. Assessment
  4. Care Plans
  5. Parallel Planning
  6. Siblings
  7. Equality and Diversity
  8. Work With Birth Parents
  9. Adoption
  10. Monitoring of Performance


1. Introduction

Permanence Planning for children aims to ensure that, wherever possible, children grow up with a family (whether birth family or substitute family) which offers continuity of relationships with nurturing parents or care givers and the opportunity to establish life time relationships. Such a placement offers the child emotional security, continuity, commitment and identity.

Achieving permanence for a child will be key consideration when working with Children in Need and their families, and from the day a child becomes Looked After.

This Policy is consistent with the Children Act 1989, LAC circular 1998/2000, Adoption standards and a basic premise of the Human Rights Act 1998 that all individuals have the right to a full and private family life.


2. Permanence Planning

Permanence is achieved when a child belongs legally to the family in which she/he lives.

For most children, this will be with their own birth parents without the need for a legal order

When a Looked After child returns to his birth parents and is subject to a Care Order, there should be a clear timescale for making a discharge application. This should be set out in the child’s Care Plan.

When a child cannot remain or return home to birth parents within a timescale that meets the child’s needs the preferred option is to seek a home for them within their extended family. This would need to be consistent with the child’s welfare.

If such an arrangement can be achieved informally without a legal order, this would be the best arrangement. Financial and other forms of support can still be provided under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989.

An appropriate legal order should be used to secure a child living with relatives, friends or Connected Persons when necessary with regards to their welfare and to achieve Permanence. Child Arrangement Orders and Special Guardianship Order applications are ways of achieving this.

Some children and foster carers may need long-term support from the Children’s Services Department and in these circumstances long-term fostering as the Care Plan may be the most appropriate plan.

For some young people in exceptional circumstances placement stability can be achieved in a children home.

If permanence cannot be achieved by living with birth parents or placement with relatives, friends or Connected Persons, adoption must be considered for all children 9 years and under.

Children over 9 years can also benefit from adoption or special guardianship, if this is in their best interests and consistent with their wishes. Examples would be placing a sibling group together or foster carers wishing to adopt or become a special guardian for an older child.


3. Assessment

Children in need of permanency planning will receive a Core Assessment by Children’s Services with input from other agencies as necessary. This will be in accordance with the Assessment Framework.

The assessment will address the language, ethnic, cultured, religious and health needs of the child.

The wishes and feelings of the child (appropriate to their age) will be obtained and fully considered.

When these are not being followed, the reasons for so doing will be fully explained to the child and the availability of the Action for Children advocate should be offered.

Full parental involvement in the assessment process is essential including obtaining the view and wishes of parents.

The Core Assessment forms the basis for the Care Plan which details the child’s future placement needs.

A family group meeting may assist the assessment. This may identify a relative, friend or Connected Person who would be willing to offer a permanent home to the child should a return home to birth parents not be possible.


4. Care Plans

A Care Plan is legally required for all Looked After children. The Care Plan should be based on the Core Assessment.

The child’s Care Plan should specify one of the following objectives:

  • Rehabilitation home to birth parents;
  • Legal permanence within their extended family;
  • Legal permanence other than extended family;
  • Stability in another long term placement.

Legal advice through council’s legal services is available to staff in the formulation of Care Plans. See Decision to Look After and Care Planning Procedure for more information.

Decisions regarding permanence need to be fully considered at the second statutory Looked After Review for a child who is Looked After on a continuous basis. See Looked After Reviews Procedure for further information on frequency of Reviews.

Unnecessary placement moves should be avoided before the permanency plan is achieved.


5. Parallel Planning

It is very important to avoid delay in reaching permanency when there are serious doubts about the viability of the child being able to return to his/her birth family.

Parallel or twin tracking planning is the process whereby two plans are running in parallel, one of the possibility of reunification home to birth parents and the other permanence through adoption.

In cases where parallel planning is being utilised, parents must be informed at the outset that two options are being considered within a timescale.

Parallel planning does not pre-empt a court decision but does prevent delay should reunification home to a child’s birth parents not be feasible.


6. Siblings

The council is committed to meeting the placement needs of sibling groups of children, every attempt will be made to keep siblings together wherever possible. When this is not possible efforts will be made to encourage contact arrangements and close geographical proximity between siblings.

Permanency planning will fully consider the wishes of a sibling group to be found a placement together.

When a decision is taken to place siblings separately, the reasons for this must be fully explained and recorded.

See Assessment of Sibling Relationships Procedure


7. Equality and Diversity

Every effort should be made in achieving permanence for black and ethnic minority children to place in a family of the same race and culture. This is necessary to help a child have a positive sense of identity, self esteem and to see positive roles models as they develop.

For children of duel, diverse or minority heritage it is important to identify the elements of the child heritage that will assist in prioritising their individual needs.

It is important not to delay placement by attempting to find an exact match for the child. In order to identify a good enough match’ the elements of the child’s heritage that have been identified as most significant will be the guiding factor.

Where appropriate alternative families will be sought who are able to demonstrate a commitment to the child’s needs to know about their history culture and language.


8. Work With Birth Parents

Every effort will be made to enable and support the child’s own birth parents to provide a permanent home for the child when it is safe to do so.

When a child cannot remain with their birth family, the authority will continue to work in partnership with birth parents and other relatives to achieve the plan for the child.

It is important to ascertain and consider birth parents views about any potential placement. Support services to help parents with communication difficulties to communicate and record their views will be made available.

An independent worker will offer support to the birth family when adoption is the plan. A local independent agency (Catholic Children’s Rescue Society) provides this service they also provide counselling and support to birth parents who are considering relinquishing babies for adoption.

Birth families will be encouraged to provide relevant information about themselves and family history. The significance of this information for the child as that she/he develops will be fully explained to the parents.

Birth parents can be given the opportunity to meet adoptive parents, unless this would jeopardise the child’s welfare and potential to achieve permanence. In certain situations some contact after adoption may be appropriate.

The availability of a letter box scheme should be explained to parents.


9. Adoption

Adoption provides a unique, permanent, psychological, legal security and stability to children unable to live with to their birth or extended family.

Children should be well prepared before joining a new family. This should include clear information with regard to their birth family and life before the placement and information about the adopter or carers and their family. Information provided by birth family should be kept safely for the child to use later in life. This information should be help in a life story book, which should be updated regularly.

When the permanence plan is adoption, legal services will endeavour to ensure timely court proceedings and the availability of a placement order to prevent delay.

Bolton Council is a member of ‘Adoption 22’. The basic remit of Adoption 22 is to share available families approved for adoption so that the most appropriate placement can be found for children requiring an adoptive placement.

Bolton Council Children’s Adoption Service provides post adoption support to adoptive parents, adopted adults and birth family members as required by the relevant legislation.

Fostering for Adoption

The Children and Families Act 2014 imposes a duty to consider placements with carers who are approved as both adopters and foster carers - see Fostering for Adoption/Concurrency Procedure.


10. Monitoring of Performance

Effective case management is the responsibility of all staff within the Children’s Services Staying Safe Group.

All staff have a responsibility to ensure the decisions effecting the children’s lives are expedited appropriately and efficiently.

Management oversight will ensure that:

  • Drift does not occur;
  • Activity is measured against quality targets and performance indicators;
  • Compliance with the National Adoption Standards is regularly monitored;
  • Senior managers and elected members are provided with regular information regarding adoption activity and performance.

The departments Quality Assurance Team will assist with this process.

The Adoption and the Fostering Panels will play an active role in monitoring achievement of permanence plans for children.

End