Permanency planning

Permanence is something that is talked about when children are looked after, however are we sure we know what it means? This page considers what permanence is, the options available and the planning required for permanence.

Permanence can be represented as a triangle.  When these three things come together this provides the child with a sense of security, continuity commitment and identity. The overall aim of permanence can be summarised as ensuring that the child has a secure, stable and loving family to see them through childhood and beyond. A sense of urgency should exist for every child who is not in a permanent home and robust planning should start at the first contact with the child and continues until a safe, stable and permanent home is found. Permanency protects the child developmentally and creates new attachments.

Early permanency planning is essential for all Looked After children to avoid drift and ensure they have the opportunity of reaching their full potential from a safe and secure base.  Achieving permanence for a child should be a key consideration from the day they become looked after.

In this context, the use of the term 'permanence' is wide, and acknowledges that permanence can be achieved through different routes - within existing or reconstituted birth families, with friends or relatives, through adoption, long-term fostering or for a minority of children, permanent care in small group homes.This procedure should be applied to all children looked after by Children and Maternity Social Care Services:

What forms can permanence take?

A range of options for permanence exist, each of which can deliver good outcomes for looked after children as long as it meets the child's assessed needs.

Permanence planning process

All children who become looked after will have been presented to the Accommodation / Resource panel .

At the first looked after review (within one month of the child being looked after) there should be consideration of developing a concurrent plan (must also consider legal timescales).

If there is no clear plan for rehabilitation then a Permanence Planning Meeting (PPM) should be convened - this will be chaired by the manager of the Looked After Children's Team and should be before the second review (or within four months of the child becoming looked after), but can be held earlier (e.g. in the case of a relinquished baby). N.B. - If there is a sibling group that may be separated then a separate meeting should be convened to explore this and the reasons, considering each child as an individual but also how they function as a sibling group. The PPM will consider the route to permanence from the options outlined above as well as any support issues that may be likely for the child, birth family and / or permanent carers.  Consideration should also be given to holding a Family Meeting at this stage to explore possible kinship parents and involve the birth family as much as possible in the planning process.


Wherever possible the child and any person with parental responsibility should be given information required in a format that they can understand.

The social worker should consult other professionals involved with the child to ascertain views on any contact plans and support issues, whatever the Permanence Plan.  This may be particularly useful in care proceedings, when there may be some dispute between the parties.  It is important that any contact plans are made in the child's best interests, are realistic, and will not unnecessarily hinder family finding.The following also needs to be considered:


The role of the IRO in permanence planning

At the second review, the review chair (Independent Reviewing Officer) will be responsible for ensuring that:



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