Working with Children - Practice Guidance

Page providing practical information about how to achieve the aim of keeping the children at the centre of the adoption process.

Permanency planning - when adoption is the plan

Planning for Permanency/for month review stage

At the four month review following a child coming into the 'Looked After' system a plan for permanence must be made.  A range of alternatives may be considered ranging from rehabilitation through to adoption.

If it seems unlikely that rehabilitation to a birth parent(s) will succeed, all other possible alternatives must be explored including placement options within the extended family.

Where the plan is to attempt rehabilitation but the outcome is uncertain, contingency plans should be identified. This could mean that a parallel plan for adoption runs alongside the plan for rehabilitation and/or exploration of the extended family. If this is the case then some preparatory work in relation to adoption can begin, thus avoiding later delay for the child.

Until all assessments have been completed, and the outcomes are known, the plan for the child cannot be finalised and the case cannot be presented to the adoption panel.

The Adoption and Permanency Panel's role is to consider whether or not a child should be placed for adoption. In reaching this decision the panel will need to know whether adoption is the only placement option that is being pursued or whether it is the preferred option, i.e. if a suitable prospective adoptive family cannot be identified within appropriate timescales for the child long-term foster care will be considered


If the assessments of the birth parent(s) and the known extended family members indicate that the child should not be returned to their care then a plan for permanence outside of the family should be made.

Making the plan for adoption

Any plan for adoption must be confirmed at a review not at a planning meeting. An early review should be called if necessary to move on the planning process.

Once the plan for the child includes adoption a case record must be set up in the child's name and this will become the Child's Adoption File. This file runs in parallel with the 'Looked After' file and should be kept securely.

The adoption process checklist. This should be kept on the paper file

Following the plan for adoption being confirmed at a review, notification letters must be sent by the child's social worker to the birth parent(s) and to anyone else who holds custody of the child, informing them that adoption is now the plan for the child within 24 hours.

"Information for Birth Parents about Adoption". The social worker in the Fostering and Adoption Team offer to meet with the birth parent(s) to explain the meaning of adoption and to inform them of their right to seek legal advice.

The process following the decision at the statutory review that adoption is the plan for the child.

Once the plan for adoption has been made a number of actions need to be taken simultaneously.


Reports for Panel

The Child Permanence Report should be prepared only by the child's social worker and quality assured by their Team Manager.

The final draft of the Child Permanence Report must be signed by the worker who completed it and his/her manager.

Birth parents should see what has been written about them and receive a copy only of the parts that are relevant to them.  Whenever possible the birth parent(s) should sign the report.  They should also be asked to complete the section of the report designed for them to give their views.

Where the child is of sufficient age and understanding consideration should be given to whether they should receive a copy of any of the information.  The child should be asked to complete the section on their views.

The Adoption and Permanency Panel should consider the case no later longer than 8 weeks after the statutory review which made the plan for adoption.

Preparation for panel

It is good practice to send notification letters to the birth parent(s) and to anyone else who holds Parental Responsibility for the child to inform them of the date of the Adoption and Permanency Panel. These letters should be sent in good time.

Quality assured and signed reports should be submitted to the Fostering and Adoption Team Manager at least two weeks prior to the Adoption and Permanency Panel date. Ten copies of each report should be submitted.

Adoption and permanency panel 

The social worker for the child should attend the panel to present their report.

The panel will make a recommendation whether a child should be placed for adoption following consideration of the reports presented.

The Agency Decision Maker will then ratify the panel's recommendation within 7 working days of panel's recommendation.

If the decision of the Department is that the child should be placed for adoption, the child's parent or guardian should be informed orally of the agency's decision within 24 hours by the child's social worker.

Notification letters must be sent to the birth parent(s) by the Fostering and Adoption Service and to anyone else who shares Parental Responsibility, informing them of the decision (if their whereabouts are known to the agency) within 5 working days of the ratification.

Where the panel decide to defer making a recommendation, the social worker for the child will be informed of the reasons and of what further work has been identified as being necessary to enable the Adoption and Permanency Panel to reconsider the case. In addition the Adoption and Permanency Panel minutes will record the work that needs to be done. The report should be updated and re-presented to Adoption and Permanence Panel rewritten after the work has been completed if the case is to be reconsidered by the Adoption and Permanency Panel.

The child must be kept appropriately informed of the plan for his/her future care.

If a decision has been made to place the child for adoption and subsequently the Care Plan for the child changes so that placement for adoption is no longer the preferred option for the child, the case must be referred back to the Adoption and Permanency Panel for reconsideration and possible revocation of the panel's original recommendation.