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14.1.17 Adoption Support Services

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter describes the adoption support services provided by the adoption agency and the assessment process for those who request such a service.

RELEVANT LEGISLATION AND GUIDANCE

RELEVANT CHAPTERS

Working with and Supporting Birth Families Procedure

FOR THE ATTENTION OF social workerS

Please pay particular attention to Section 5, Adoption Support Services (Children Placed by Notts) below and consider the specific sub-section which applies.        

Section 8, Assessing Support Needs (Pre-Order) deals with Adoption Support Plans and should also be read carefully.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in January 2016.


Contents

1. Introduction
2. Principles of Adoption Support
3. Core Adoption Support Services
4. Role and Functions of the Adoption Support Services Adviser
5. Adoption Support Services (Children Placed by Notts)
6. Other Agencies' Children
7. "Historic" Adoptions
8. Assessing Support Needs (Pre-Order)
9. Reviews of Plan (Pre-Order)
10. Assessing Support Needs (Post-Order)
11. Writing the Plan
12. Notification of Decision
13. Reviews of Plan (Post-Order)
14. Non-Agency Adoptions
  Appendix A: Adoption National Minimum Standards (2001), Standard 15
  Appendix B: Adoption Support Services Provided by Nottinghamshire
  Appendix C: Eligibility for Assessment for Adoption


1. Introduction

  • Sections 3 and 4 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 place a duty on Local Authorities to maintain an adoption service, which must include making and participating in arrangements for the adoption of children and for the provision of adoption services (to include financial support). The Act also provides a right to assessment of needs for adoption support services for adoptive families and others (see Appendix C);
  • The Adoption Support Services Regulations 2005 implement the adoption support framework created by the Act;
  • Adoption Minimum Standards also address issues of adoption support in relation to adopted children, adoptive parents and birth relatives (see Appendix A);
  • Workers are encouraged to consult the Support After Adoption Team about issues relating to adoption support services by e-mail at support.afteradoption@nottscc.gov.uk;
  • Workers are also advised to read Practice Guidance on Assessing the Support Needs of Adoptive Families (2008). This looks at how the Assessment Framework should be used with adoptive families, understanding and assessing needs in adoption, and responding to these.


2. Principles of Adoption Support

  • All parties affected by adoption have a right to be assessed for adoption support;
  • Support services should be delivered by professional staff who: 
    • Are sensitive to the issues surrounding adoption;
    • Have the necessary understanding, skills and experience to support those affected by adoption;
    • Recognise the life-long impact of adoption; 
    • Support is provided in a way which is seamless and accessible to all parties throughout the adoption process and beyond;
    • The provision of adoption support should improve the success of adoptive placements and the outcomes for children and their families.


3. Core Adoption Support Services

See also The Adoption Passport : A support guide for adopters.

Regulation 3 of the Adoption Support Services Regulations 2005 prescribes the services which the Local Authority must provide, which are:

  • Financial support (see Adoption Financial Support Procedure) This can include paid adoption leave at similar rates to maternity and paternity leave;
  • Priority access to social housing, and access to additional support to cover a spare room whilst adopters wait for their child to arrive in their new home;
  • Priority admission for school places, including academies and free schools;
  • Support groups for adoptive parents, adoptive children and birth parents;
  • Assistance for contact arrangements between adoptive children and their birth relatives or with other people with whom they share significant relationships;  
  • Services in relation to the therapeutic needs of an adoptive child; 
  • Assistance to support an adoptive placement or adoption (including special needs training and respite care);  
  • Assistance where a disruption has occurred or is in danger of occurring, both during the placement period and after the adoption order has been made; 
  • A range of adoption support services, including access to counselling, information and advice for both adoptive parents and their children, who may have complex needs;
  • Counselling, advice and information. 

Local Authorities are able to offer such additional support services as they see fit.

Where the child is placed in the area of another Local Authority, the agencies in that authority's area will need to be consulted as to what services may be available for the adopters and the adopted children. In these circumstances, the prospective adopters should be assisted with any cross-boundary issues that may arise. 


4. Role and Functions of the Adoption Support Services Adviser

The Adoption and Children Act 2002 introduced the role of the Adoption Support Services Adviser (ASSA). The functions of the ASSA are described in Regulation 6 of the Adoption Support services Regulations 2005. The role is acknowledged to be primarily operational.  

The ASSA’s functions are to: 

  1. Give advice and information to persons who may be affected by the adoption or proposed adoption of a child, including as to:
    1. Services that may be appropriate to those persons; and 
    2. How those services may be made available to them.
  2. Give advice, information and assistance to the Local Authority which appointed him, including as to 
    1. The assessment of needs for adoption support services in accordance with Regulations 13 and 14; 
    2. The availability of adoption support services and services available to meet the needs of people entitled to be assessed; and 
    3. The formulation of plans in accordance with Regulation 16; and 
  3. Consult with, and give advice, information and assistance to, another Local Authority where appropriate. 

In Nottinghamshire the role of the ASSA is discharged by Support After Adoption Team Managers and duty worker.


5. Adoption Support Services (Children Placed by Notts)

5.1 If You Are Placing a Nottinghamshire Child

  • With adopters approved by Nottinghamshire;
  • Who live in Nottinghamshire. 

5.1.1 Child's social worker

The relationship between children and their social workers is a vital aspect of support throughout the adoption process, and up to the point of the adoption order being made. 

Key factors in maximising the potential success of adoptive placements include: 

  • Undertaking timely direct work with children in preparing them for adoption, including the use of the “Understanding Adoption” children’s guide;
  • Having the Life Story Book available before placement - see Life Story Work and Preparation for Adoption Procedure;
  • Completing a risk assessment of the child to be placed, and ensuring the Adoption Support Plan details how risk will be monitored and managed;
  • Ensuring the full range of the child’s needs are clearly and comprehensively identified in a detailed Adoption Support Plan;
  • Liaising with Support After Adoption and other local services/agencies re delivery of the plan;
  • Assessing the appropriateness and viability of proposed contact arrangements;
  • Convening a Life Appreciation Meeting - see Child Placements: Preparatory Information/Life Appreciation Meetings Procedure;
  • Supporting the child in making the transition to the adoptive family and beyond;
  • Visiting  the child regularly (the child must also be seen alone);
  • Completing the Later Life Letter so that it is available at the point of adoption order - see Later Life Letter Procedure).  

5.1.2 County Adoption Team 

Adopters generally build a close, trusting relationship with their social worker, which will equip them to manage the range of new experiences that becoming adoptive parents will expose them to. 

The support provided by the Adoption Team begins from the time of the adopters’ first enquiry and lasts at least until the adoption order is made.

Examples of support provided can be found in Appendix B: Adoption Support Services Provided by Nottinghamshire.

The County Adoption Team may continue to issue invitations to its social events in recognition of the importance of the adopters’ relationship with their approving placing agency. Social events may also serve to encourage adopters to maintain important links which have been formed with other adopters, or to provide a focus and venue for direct contact between siblings placed in other adoptive families. 

5.1.3 Support After Adoption Team 

The County Adoption Team will liaise closely with Support After Adoption prior to the adoption order being made in relation to the support to be offered to adoptive families post-order. 

The full range of adoption support services will be provided by Support After Adoption for as long as the family continues to live within Nottinghamshire. This includes: 

  • Responding to post-order requests for additional adoption support when needs have changed, by undertaking Adoption Support Assessments and writing Adoption Support Plans (see Section 10, Assessing Support Needs (Post-Order) and Section 11, Writing the Plan);
  • Support to birth family members;
  • Support to all parties in relation to contact arrangements (i.e. Letterbox, face-to-face, financial support for contact);
  • Support to adoptive parents requesting access to birth records on behalf of their adopted children; 
  • Support to adopted adults requesting access to birth records.

Nottinghamshire’s Finance Section will continue to deal with all existing aspects of regular financial support. 

Examples of support services provided can be found in Appendix B: Adoption Support Services Provided by Nottinghamshire.

5.2 If You Are Placing a Nottinghamshire Child

  • With adopters approved by Nottinghamshire;
  • Who live outside Nottinghamshire.         

5.2.1 Child's social worker

The relationship between children and their social workers is a vital aspect of support throughout the adoption process, and up to the point of the adoption order being made. 

Key factors in maximising the potential success of adoptive placements include: 

  • Undertaking timely direct work with children in preparing them for adoption, including the use of the “Understanding Adoption” children’s guide;
  • Having the Life Story Book available before placement - see Life Story Work and Preparation for Adoption Procedure;
  • Completing a risk assessment of the child to be placed, and ensuring the Adoption Support Plan details how risk will be monitored and managed;
  • Ensuring the full range of the child’s needs are clearly and comprehensively identified in a detailed Adoption Support Plan;
  • Liaising with Support After Adoption and other local services/agencies re delivery of the plan;
  • Liaising with Education re securing a school place and any additional needs - see Meeting Educational Needs Moving Into Adoptive Placement Procedures;
  • Assessing the appropriateness and viability of proposed contact arrangements;
  • Convening a Life Appreciation Meeting - see Child Placements: Preparatory Information/Life Appreciation Meetings Procedure;
  • Supporting the child in making the transition to the adoptive family and beyond;
  • Visiting the child regularly (the child must also be seen alone);
  • Completing the Later Life Letter so that it is available at the point of adoption order - see Later Life Letter Procedure.

5.2.2 County Adoption Team 

Adopters generally build a close, trusting relationship with their social worker, which will equip them to manage the range of new experiences that becoming adoptive parents will expose them to.

The support provided by the Adoption Team begins from the time of the adopters’ first enquiry and lasts at least until the adoption order is made. Examples of support provided can be found in Appendix B: Adoption Support Services Provided by Nottinghamshire.

Nottinghamshire is responsible for providing support for the first three years from the date of the adoption order. Thereafter responsibility for the majority of support services will transfer to the receiving Local Authority. The adopters’ support worker will therefore need to establish at an early stage (pre-placement), via the receiving authority’s Adoption Support Services Adviser, that the necessary support services will be available to ensure that the match is viable.

The County Adoption Team will negotiate with Support After Adoption prior to the adoption order being made in relation to the support to be offered to adoptive families post-order. The County Adoption Team will also “broker” services from the receiving Local Authority, and other agencies in the adoptive family’s home area. They will monitor that services commissioned in this way are being provided satisfactorily. 

The County Adoption Team may continue to issue invitations to its social events beyond the three year cut-off point in recognition of the importance of the adopters’ relationship with their approving agency. Social events may also serve to encourage adopters to maintain important links which have been formed with other adopters, or to provide a focus and venue for direct contact between siblings placed in other adoptive families.  

5.2.3 Support After Adoption 

It is Nottinghamshire’s responsibility to provide adoption support to the adoptive family for the first three years from the date of the adoption order, so it is quite possible that Support After Adoption will have some involvement during this time. Adoption support assessments may be carried out by the team and services delivered under an adoption support plan. Applications to the Adoption Support Fund may be particularly relevant for Out Of County placements where local therapeutic services are not available through health services.

Examples of support services provided can be found in Appendix B: Adoption Support Services Provided by Nottinghamshire.

Three years from the date of an adoption order, responsibility for support to the adoptive family transfers to the receiving Local Authority. 

Support After Adoption will retain responsibility for: 

  • Support to birth family members;  
  • Support to all parties in relation to contact arrangements (i.e. Letterbox, face-to-face, financial support for contact); 
  • Support to adoptive parents requesting access to birth records on behalf of their adopted children;  
  • Support to adopted adults requesting access to birth records. 

Nottinghamshire’s Finance Section will continue to deal with all existing aspects of regular financial support. 

5.3 If You Are Placing a Nottinghamshire Child

  • With another agency’s adopters;
  • Who live in Nottinghamshire.      

5.3.1 Child's social worker

Important - you must be familiar with Inter-Agency Placements Procedure.

The relationship between children and their social workers is a vital aspect of support throughout the adoption process, and up to the point of the adoption order being made. 

Key factors in maximising the potential success of adoptive placements include: 

  • Undertaking timely direct work with children in preparing them for adoption, including the use of the “Understanding Adoption” children’s guide;
  • Having the Life Story Book available before placement - see Life Story Work and Preparation for Adoption Procedure;
  • Completing a risk assessment of the child to be placed, and ensuring the Adoption Support Plan details how risk will be monitored and managed;
  • Ensuring the full range of the child’s needs are clearly and comprehensively identified in a detailed Adoption Support Plan;
  • Liaising with Support After Adoption and other local services/agencies re delivery of the plan;
  • Liaising with Education re securing a school place and any additional needs - see Meeting Educational Needs Moving Into Adoptive Placements Procedure;
  • Assessing the appropriateness and viability of proposed contact arrangements;
  • Convening a Life Appreciation Meeting - see Child Placements: Preparatory Information and Life Appreciation Meetings Procedure;
  • Supporting the child in making the transition to the adoptive family and beyond;
  • Visiting the child regularly (the child must also be seen alone);
  • Completing the Later Life Letter so that it is available at the point of adoption order - see Later Life Letter Procedure.

The child’s worker must involve the Home Finding team as soon as potential adopters are identified.  

It is the responsibility of the child’s worker to establish at an early stage (pre-placement) what support services will be provided by the adopters’ agency, and to discuss this with the Homefinding team. 

The adoption panel will expect to see an Adoption Support Plan which reassures them that the child’s needs for support will be properly addressed in the placement proposed. 

The Home Finder will also initiate a welfare rights assessment to assess the level of financial support that the adopters may be entitled to - see Adoption Financial Support Procedure.

At the Interagency Meeting, the Home Finder must confirm the services to be provided by the adopters’ agency and the cost of these. These details must be recorded in the Form H (interagency agreement).

5.3.2 County Adoption Team

As the adopters were approved by another agency, the County Adoption Team will have no role in this scenario. 

5.3.3 Support After Adoption Team 

The full range of adoption support services will be provided by Support After Adoption for the first three years post-order and as long as the family continues to live within Nottinghamshire, or for the first three years post-order if the family move out of Nottinghamshire.

Examples of support services provided can be found in Appendix B: Adoption Support Services Provided by Nottinghamshire.

Support After Adoption will also provide: 

  • Lifelong support to birth family members;
  • Lifelong support to all parties in relation to contact arrangement;
  • Support to adoptive parents requesting access to birth records on behalf of their adopted children (i.e. Letterbox, face-to-face, financial support for contact); 
  • Support to adopted adults requesting access to birth records. 

Nottinghamshire’s Finance Section will continue to deal with all existing aspects of regular financial support. 

Support After Adoption is also responsible for responding to post-order requests for additional adoption support when needs have changed, by undertaking assessments and writing Adoption Support Plans (see Section 10, Assessing Support Needs (Post-Order) and Section 11, Writing the Plan below) 

5.4 If You are Placing a Nottinghamshire Child

  • With another agency’s adopters;
  • Who live outside Nottinghamshire. 

5.4.1 Child's social worker

Important - you must be familiar with the Inter Agency Placements Procedure.

The relationship between children and their social workers is a vital aspect of support throughout the adoption process, and up to the point of the adoption order being made. 

Key factors in maximising the potential success of adoptive placements include: 

  • Undertaking timely direct work with children in preparing them for adoption, including the use of the “Understanding Adoption” children’s guide; 
  • Having the Life Story Book available before placement - see Life Story Work and Preparation for Adoption Procedure;
  • Completing a risk assessment of the child to be placed, and ensuring the Adoption Support Plan details how risk will be monitored and managed; 
  • Ensuring the full range of the child’s needs are clearly and comprehensively identified in a detailed Adoption Support Plan; 
  • Liaising with Support After Adoption and other local services/agencies re delivery of the plan;
  • Liaising with Education re securing a school place and any additional needs - see Meeting Educational Needs Moving Into Adoptive Placements Procedure;
  • Assessing the appropriateness and viability of proposed contact arrangements; 
  • Convening a Life Appreciation Meeting - see Child Placements: Preparatory Information and Life Appreciation Meetings;
  • Supporting the child in making the transition to the adoptive family and beyond;  
  • Visiting the child regularly (the child must also be seen alone); 
  • Completing the Later Life Letter so that it is available at the point of adoption order - see Later Life Letter Procedure.

The child’s worker must involve the Home Finder as soon as potential adopters are identified.  

It is the responsibility of the child’s worker to establish at an early stage (pre-placement) what support services will be provided by the adopters’ agency and by the Local Authority in whose area they live, and to discuss this with the Home Finder.  

The adoption panel will expect to see an Adoption Support Plan which reassures them that the child’s needs for support will be properly addressed in the placement proposed. 

The Adoption Manager (Interagency Liaison) will also initiate a welfare rights assessment to assess the level of financial support that the adopters may be entitled to - see Adoption Financial Support Procedure.

At the Interagency Meeting, the Home Finder must confirm the services to be provided by the adopters’ agency and the cost of these. These details must be recorded in the Form H (interagency agreement).

By the time of the adoption order an appropriate support package must have been brokered with the receiving authority. 

5.4.2 County Adoption Team 

As the adopters were approved by another agency, the County Adoption Team will have no role in this scenario. 

5.4.3 Support After Adoption Team 

A robust and appropriate support package must have been brokered with the receiving authority by the time of the adoption order. Support After Adoption may provide consultation to the child’s worker and Home Finding team in this respect. Adoption support assessments may be carried out by the team and services delivered under an adoption support plan. Applications to the Adoption Support Fund may be particularly relevant for Out Of County placements where local therapeutic services are not available through health services.

Three years from the making of the adoption order, the receiving authority will inherit responsibility for adoption support, but Support After Adoption will continue to be responsible for: 

  • Support to birth family members;
  • Support to all parties in relation to contact arrangements (i.e. Letterbox, face-to-face, financial support for contact); 
  • Support to adoptive parents requesting access to birth records on behalf of their adopted children; 
  • Support to adopted adults requesting access to birth records. 


6. Other Agencies' Children

There are three possible scenarios which will require input from parts of Nottinghamshire’s Adoption Service: 

6.1 If another Agency’s Child is being Placed

  • With adopters approved by Nottinghamshire;
  • Who live in  Nottinghamshire.

6.1.1 County Adoption Team   

Adopters generally build a close, trusting relationship with their social worker, which will equip them to manage the range of new experiences that becoming adoptive parents will expose them to. 

The support provided by the Adoption Team begins from the time of the adopters’ first enquiry and lasts at least until the adoption order is made. 

 Examples of support provided can be found in Appendix B: Adoption Support Services Provided by Nottinghamshire.

The County Adoption Team may continue to issue invitations to its social events in recognition of the importance of the adopters’ relationship with their approving agency. Social events may also serve to encourage adopters to maintain important links which have been formed with other adopters, or to provide a focus and venue for direct contact between siblings placed in other adoptive families.  

The County Adoption Team may liaise with Support After Adoption in relation to the Adoption Support Plan. 

6.1.2 Support After Adoption 

The full range of adoption support services will be provided by Support After Adoption for as long as the family continues to live within Nottinghamshire. However, the child’s agency has responsibility for providing adoption support for the first three years from the date of the adoption order. Nottinghamshire may be approached by the child’s agency to provide support services on their behalf during this period. 

The child’s social worker from the placing agency should have contacted the Team Manager Support After Adoption acting as Adoption Support Services Adviser prior to placement, to ensure that the required support will be available in Nottinghamshire, when responsibility transfers. A copy of the Adoption Support Plan will be requested and forwarded to Support After Adoption for information and comment. 

Once the adoption order is made, Support After Adoption should be notified and receive a copy of the most recent Adoption Support Plan. They will write to the adopters to make initial contact and enclosing an information leaflet. This will be particularly important if no request has been made by the child’s agency for Nottinghamshire to provide support services on their behalf. Such families may be offered the chance to be on the mailing list for adopters’ training and youth events where relevant.

Examples of support services provided can be found in Appendix B: Adoption Support Services Provided by Nottinghamshire.

Access to birth records and established arrangements for regular financial support remain the responsibility of the child’s agency. Similarly, responsibility for contact arrangements and support to the birth family remains with the child’s agency. 

Three years from the making of the adoption order, responsibility for adoption support will formally transfer to Nottinghamshire. Support After Adoption will write to the adopters at this stage. Support After Adoption will also assume responsibility for responding to post-order requests for additional adoption support when needs have changed, by undertaking assessments and writing Adoption Support Plans (see Section 10, Assessing Support Needs (Post-Order) and Section 11, Writing the Plan below).

6.2 If Another Agency’s Child is Being Placed

  • With adopters approved by Nottinghamshire;
  • Who live outside Nottinghamshire. 

6.2.1 County Adoption Team 

Adopters generally build a close, trusting relationship with their social worker, which will equip them to manage the range of new experiences that becoming adoptive parents will expose them to. 

The support provided by the Adoption Team begins from the time of the adopters’ first enquiry and lasts until the adoption order is made.  

Examples of support provided can be found in Appendix B: Adoption Support Services Provided by Nottinghamshire.

The County Adoption Team will provide support initially to the adoptive family. 

The County Adoption Team may continue to issue invitations to social events after the adoption order is made in recognition of the importance of the adopters’ relationship with their approving agency. Social events may also serve to encourage adopters to maintain important links which have been formed with other adopters, or to provide a focus and venue for direct contact between siblings placed in other adoptive families.  

6.2.2 Support After Adoption 

Support After Adoption has no role in this scenario, but is available to the County Adoption Team for consultation on request. 

6.3 If Another Agency’s Child is Being Placed

  • With adopters approved by another agency; 
  • Who live in Nottinghamshire. 

6.3.1 Team Manager Support After Adoption 

Team Manager Support After Adoption Team Manager Support After Adoption in their ASSA role are responsible for receiving, responding to and monitoring enquiries from other agencies about the availability of adoption support services in Nottinghamshire.

The Team Manager Support After Adoption or SAA duty officer in their ASSA role will request copies of adoption support plans from the placing Local Authority to ensure that the support needs outlined in the plan can be met by existing services, and will inform the other agency accordingly.

The Team Manager Support After Adoption is part of a network of Adoption Support Services Advisers (ASSA's) across the country. 

S/he will also encourage the other agencies to contact Support After Adoption to discuss future support needs. 

6.3.2 Support After Adoption 

Once the adoption order is made, Support After Adoption will be notified and should receive a copy of the most recent Adoption Support Plan. They will write to the adopters to make initial contact and enclosing an information leaflet. This will be particularly important if no request has been made by the child’s agency for Nottinghamshire to provide support services on their behalf. Such families may be offered the chance to be on the mailing list for adopters’ training and youth events where relevant.

Access to birth records and established arrangements for regular financial support remain the responsibility of the child’s agency. Similarly, responsibility for contact arrangements and support to the birth family remains with the child’s agency.

Three years from the making of the adoption order, responsibility for adoption support will formally transfer to Nottinghamshire. Support After Adoption will write to the adopters at this stage.  

Examples of support services provided can be found in Appendix B: Adoption Support Services Provided by Nottinghamshire.

Support After Adoption will also assume responsibility for responding to post-order requests for additional adoption support when needs have changed, by undertaking assessments and writing Adoption Support Plans (see Section 10, Assessing Support Needs (Post-Order) and Section 11, Writing the Plan below).


7. "Historic" Adoptions

7.1

Many adoptive placements have been made over the years within Nottinghamshire, or adoptive families may have subsequently moved into the county, without ever having come to the attention of the Support After Adoption team. 

Those concerned will be eligible to receive an assessment of support needs by Nottinghamshire on the basis that they live within the county and that adoption orders were made more than three years ago. This assessment will normally be undertaken by Support After Adoption. Services may then be delivered under an adoption support plan.
7.2 There will also be a number of adoptive placements which were made by Nottinghamshire, where adoptive families have since moved out of the county. Although it is, strictly speaking, the responsibility of the Local Authority in whose area the adoptive family now lives to provide adoption support services, Support After Adoption may still provide advice in such cases.
7.3 Support After Adoption must be informed of and consulted about all other referrals of adoptive families to childcare teams. Wherever possible this should be before contact is made with the adoptive family.


8. Assessing Support Needs (Pre-Order)

Robust and comprehensive support plans are the crucial foundation on which all future support will be built and developed. 

Workers are advised to read Practice guidance on assessing the support needs of adoptive families (2008). This looks at how the Assessment Framework should be used with adoptive families, understanding and assessing needs in adoption, and responding to these.

The child’s social worker is responsible for writing the Adoption Support Plan, which must clearly identify every aspect of the child’s and birth parents’ support needs. 

The adopter’s social worker is responsible for similarly identifying the support needs of prospective adopters at the application stage, and of approved adopters at the match stage. 

 

8.1

The Child’s Adoption Plan

  8.1.1 An up-to-date Child’s Permanence Report must be available to adoption panel when considering whether a child should be placed for adoption. The report will provide the information from which the child and birth family’s adoption support needs may be distilled. This must include contact. 
  8.1.2

The support needs of the child and the birth family must be recorded in the Adoption Support Plan and presented as part of the Child’s Permanence Report to adoption panel.

The Adoption Support Plan must include: 

  • The services to be provided; 
  • The objectives and criteria for evaluating success; 
  • Timescales for provision; 
  • Procedures for review; 
  • Name of the person nominated to monitor the provision of services in accordance with the plan. 
  8.1.3 The Adoption Support Plan is on Framework and must be updated and revised at each stage of the adoption process; that is, at the match with adopters, placement, and at each review. By the time of the adoption order it should record the on-going Adoption Support Plan for all parties in the adoption triangle. 
  8.1.4 Where birth parents are receiving support from an independent social worker, the child’s worker must liaise with this worker when identifying the birth parents’ support needs. These should include any needs in relation to contact.

8.2

Approval of Prospective Adopters

  8.2.1 An Adoption Support Plan in respect of applicants must be completed and presented to the adoption panel at the time of the match being considered. The plan must also clearly specify who is responsible for meeting the identified needs. 
  8.2.2 The Adoption Support Plan must be updated and revised at each stage of the adoption process; that is, at the match with a child, placement, and at each review. The plan should be detailed and specific, covering short, medium and long-term needs. By the time of the adoption order it should record the on-going adoption support plan for all parties in the adoption triangle. 

8.3

Match with Adopters 

  8.3.1 When the match with adopters is presented to adoption panel, the Adoption Placement Report must clearly identify how the needs of the child will be met by the skills of the adopters, and what external support may be necessary to support the placement. This will include recommendations about whether financial support will be required, and details of proposed contact arrangements. 
  8.3.2

The child’s worker and the adopters’ worker must liaise to produce an Adoption Support Plan which is presented to panel with the Adoption Placement Report. The Adoption Support Plan must include an assessment of the needs for adoption support services for the child, the prospective adopters and any children of the prospective adopters.

Prospective adopters must be given 10 working days to consider the Adoption Placement Report (including the Adoption Support Plan) and make comments if they so wish.

As the placing authority, Nottinghamshire will be responsible for adoption support for the first three years from the date of the adoption order. If the adoptive family lives in the county, Nottinghamshire will continue to hold this responsibility. However: 

If the match is with a Nottinghamshire family who live outside the County, the adoption support plan must clearly indicate that the child’s worker and adopter’s worker have explored long-term adoption support services provided by the receiving Local Authority. (See Section 5.2, If You Are Placing a Nottinghamshire Child above).

If the match is with an adoptive family approved by another agency and living outside Nottinghamshire, the Adoption Support Plan must clearly indicate that the child’s worker has explored adoption support services provided by that agency and the receiving Local Authority. (See Section 5.4, If You are Placing a Nottinghamshire Child above).

In both cases, responsibility for adoption support will transfer to the receiving authority three years from the date of the adoption order. 
  8.3.3 The support needs of the birth family must also be recorded in the adoption support plan, as Nottinghamshire will retain responsibility for providing support services until the child is 18. It will be particularly important to record details in relation to support for contact arrangements.
  8.3.4 Where birth parents are receiving support from an independent social worker, the child’s worker must liaise with that worker when identifying the birth parents’ support needs. These should include any needs in relation to contact.
  8.3.5

The proposed plan must be based on consultation with all parties, including the child where of an appropriate age and understanding, and must consider:

  • The child’s developmental needs;
  • The parenting capacity of the adopters;
  • How best to address the support needs identified at different points in time. 
  8.3.6 Where children have on-going health and education needs, the social worker will need to liaise with the agencies providing these services (e.g. Health, CAMHS, Education etc).
  8.3.7 In relation to educational needs, social workers should refer to Meeting Educational Needs Moving into Adoptive Placements Procedure. A school place should be secured and appropriate support in place before the child is placed with their adoptive family. If the adoptive parents or social worker are anxious or unsure about any aspect of school placement or education generally, they should seek advice from the Corporate Parenting Consultant.
  8.3.8

In relation to health needs, social workers should liaise with the Consultant Paediatrician for Children Looked After who will: 

  • Assist with the assessment of health needs;
  • Assist with identifying local NHS resources when a child is placed out of County;
  • Assist with accessing NHS provision. 
  8.3.9

In relation to emotional well-being, social workers should request consultation from specialist and Looked After CAMHS team and seek assistance with: 

  • Direct work with children and families before and after placement for adoption;
  • Identifying and accessing local CAMHS services when the child is placed outside Nottinghamshire.
  8.3.10 The adopters’ social worker should also request an assessment from the Welfare Rights Officer (Adoption) to ensure that adopters claim all benefits and tax credits for which they are eligible. Adopters must also be given advice of entitlements to employee’s rights to leave and pay and these should be taken into account when considering amounts of financial support.

8.4

Placement Planning Meeting

  8.4.1 The Adoption Support Plan should form an integral part of the Placement Planning Meeting at which the Adoption Placement Plan is completed - see Placement Planning Meetings and Introductions to Adoptive Families.
  8.4.2 The Placement Planning Meeting should also consider the possible involvement of Support After Adoption post adoption order.  
  8.4.3

The Adoption Support Plan must be circulated to all relevant parties for representations to be made within 28 days.  

However, participants should only be sent the part of the plan relevant to themselves, in order to ensure confidentiality.   

This consultation should include: 

  • The child, where of an appropriate age and understanding, or unless the specific circumstances of the case mean that it would be potentially harmful to the welfare of the child. The child’s social worker should go through the child’s support plan with them according to their age and understanding;
  • All recipients of services;
  • Any party who has a role or responsibility in implementing the plan, including Support After Adoption.
  8.4.4 Representations should be made to the chair of the Placement Planning Meeting. This will usually be the Team Manager for the child unless other arrangements have been made. Any disagreements should be dealt with at this level initially, although participants should be made aware of the Department’s Complaints Procedure.


9. Reviews of Plan (Pre-Order)

9.1 The Adoption Support Plan must be reviewed and updated at all Adoption Reviews post placement. 
9.2

Whenever the Adoption Support Plan is changed, the new proposed plan must be notified to all parties as in 8.4.3 allowing a period of 28 days for representations to be made. 

Contact arrangements must be tested before the adoption order is made (see Adoption Plans and Contact Arrangements (Including The Letterbox Scheme) Procedure).
9.3 At the final review, the Adoption Support Plan must be confirmed; any gaps addressed and then re-circulated to all parties, including Support After Adoption (see 8.4.3). This review may take place before the adoption hearing or, by arrangement with the Independent Reviewing Section, shortly after the order has been made. This will be particularly valuable if there are outstanding issues which need to be finalised. 
9.4 In complex cases, the attendance of Support After Adoption at the final review may be desirable as all on-going support arrangements will be transferred to Support After Adoption just before the order is made. In some cases, workers from the County Adoption Team or the child’s social worker will have work to complete post-order. Support After Adoption should be informed of any such work and notified on its completion.


10. Assessing Support Needs (Post-Order)

10.1

The Local Authority is required to undertake assessments of needs for adoption support services at the request of entitled people.  

See Appendix C: Eligibility for Assessment for Adoption.

The Local Authority may also undertake assessments for other people named in the table at Appendix C who request a service which they have no automatic entitlement to be assessed for. 

Requests for reassessment for adoption support will normally be made directly to the Support After Adoption Team, but in some circumstances may be received by a Reception and Assessment Team.

Support After Adoption must be informed of and consulted about all referrals of adoptive families to childcare teams before contact is made with the adoptive family.
10.2

If, as a result of an assessment, the Local Authority proposes to provide support services, it must give notice of the outcome of the assessment to the person who has been assessed, which covers the following information: 

  • A statement as to the person’s needs for adoption support services;
  • Where the assessment relates to his need for financial support, the basis upon which financial support is determined*;
  • Whether the Local Authority proposes to provide him with adoption support services;
  • The services (if any) that are proposed;
  • If financial support is to be paid, the proposed amount that would be payable*;
  • Any conditions attached to the payment*;

 See also Adoption Financial Support Procedure.


11. Writing the Plan

11.1

Having carried out an assessment the Local Authority must prepare a written Adoption Support Plan if it proposes to provide any adoption support services other then advice or information.

There is no duty placed on the authority to automatically provide services and there is no entitlement for those assessed to receive services. However, the Local Authority must act reasonably in making its decision, and will be expected to take into account the circumstances of each individual case and the resources that are available locally. 
11.2

The Adoption Support Plan should set out the same areas as in 8.1.2. Namely:

  • The services to be provided;
  • The objectives and criteria for evaluating success;
  • Timescales for provision;
  • Procedures for review;
  • Name of the person nominated to monitor the provision of services in accordance with the plan. 

The draft plan should be sent to the person who requested the assessment with a copy of the notice of assessment (see 10.2). This person should then be allowed a period of time to consider the proposals (28 days) and make any representations.


12. Notification of Decision

12.1 Having made a decision about what, if any, service to provide, the Local Authority must give notice of that decision, including the reasons for it. This should be sent with a copy of the Adoption Support Plan and the name of the person responsible for monitoring the provision of services in accordance with the plan.
12.2 Where agencies other than Social Care Services have been involved in the assessment of support needs, the Local Authority should try, wherever possible, to ensure that decisions made by the other agencies follows the same timetable as their own considerations. This would allow a single notification to be sent which encapsulates the whole package of support services.


13. Reviews of Plan (Post-Order)) 

The provision of adoption support services after adoption must be reviewed in the following cases: 

  • If any change in the person’s circumstances which may affect the provision of services comes to the attention of the Local Authority (reviews should be held within 4 weeks of this being known);
  • At such stage in the implementation of the support plan as the Local Authority considers appropriate;
  • In any event, at least annually.


14. Non-Agency Adoptions

For adoption support services in relation to non-agency adoptions please refer to Appendix C: Eligibility for Assessment for Adoption and Non Agency Adoption Procedure.


Appendix A: Adoption National Minimum Standards (2001), Standard 15

Click here to view Appendix A: Adoption National Minimum Standards (2001), Standard 15.


Appendix B: Adoption Support Services Provided by Nottinghamshire

Birth Family Members

For details of services provided to birth parents and other birth relatives please see Working with and Supporting Birth Families.

Adopted Children

  • Events and forums for children and young people;
  • Family events;
  • Social work support, including life story work, identity work and Theraplay;
  • Support after post-order breakdowns.

Adopted Adults

  • Advice and information via telephone or e-mail;
  • Social work support;
  • Access to birth records;
  • Intermediary and reunion work.

Adoptive Families

  • Social work support including support with therapeutic parenting;
  • Assessments for adoption support;
  • Holistic adoption support delivered via adoption support plan with regular reviews;
  • Application to the Adoption Support Fund for therapeutic services for children and families (especially for Out Of County families in the first three years post order);
  • Mailing list;
  • Regular training events for adopters;
  • Newsletter and other information leaflets;
  • Specialist collection of books in Nottinghamshire County Council Libraries;
  • Links to other adoptive parents;
  • Out of Hours support service;
  • Advice and information via telephone or e-mail via SAA phoneline;
  • Facilitation of referrals to other services (e.g. Health, CAMHS, Education, Culture and Community) in particular CAMHS consultations;
  • Welfare rights assessments and advice;
  • Letterbox scheme;
  • Support for Letterbox and face-to-face contact arrangements when requested;
  • Post Adoption Linking Scheme (PALS) - provides mentoring support for adoptive families;
  • Support after post-order breakdowns (e.g. to maintain contact between the child and their adopters or to support a return home for the child.


Appendix C: Eligibility for Assessment for Adoption

Click here to view Appendix C: Eligibility for Assessment for Adoption.

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