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14.1.12 Child Placements Preparatory Information/Life Appreciation Days

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter details the process prior to the child’s proposed placement with particular prospective adopters being considered at Adoption Panel and includes the Life Appreciation Meetings which give further information to prospective adopters. This helps them to make an informed choice about whether they are able to meet the child’s needs if placed with them for adoption.

RELEVANT LEGISLATION AND GUIDANCE

  • Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005 (Regulation 31);
  • Adoption and Children Act 2002 Chapter 4;
  • Adoption Minimum Standards (2011) Standard 13.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in January 2016, in particular Section 2.5 was added.


Content

  1. Introduction
  2. Policy
  3. Guidance


1. Introduction

1.1 This chapter details policy and practice guidance about the positive use of good preparatory information and the purpose, timing and content of Life Appreciation Meetings.
1.2 Statutory Adoption Guidance prescribes the information that should be provided to prospective adopters to enable them to decide whether or not to proceed with the placement of a specific child. This can be found in Chapter 4 of the Guidance - Matching and proposing a placement.


2. Policy

2.1 The agency will hold a meeting with prospective adopters prior to the placement being considered by the adoption panel. The meeting will cover the areas prescribed in the Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005 - (see 3.1 and 3.2 below).
2.2 The agency will write an Adoption Placement Report when proposing a placement. A copy of this will be sent to the prospective adopters, allowing them 10 working days to send the agency their views on the report. The placement report and the prospective adopters’ views on that report will be sent to adoption panel for consideration of the proposed placement three weeks prior to matching panel taking place.
2.3

The prospective adopters and child should not normally meet until after a panel recommendation and agency decision that the placement is appropriate, and the agency has authority to place the child.

In very exceptional cases, a meeting may be justified in the best interests of the child, e.g. for an older child who desperately needs to feel part of the total process, or for a disabled child where it is thought essential that the prospective adopters have a real understanding of the child prior to committing themselves further to the process. In such circumstances approval must be sought from the Adoption Locality Service Manager for a one-off meeting to occur. Some prospective adopters will have met children during adoption activity days.
2.4

When adoption is requested by the birth parent/s and the legal status of the child is Section 20 of Children Act 1989 there should be no contact between the prospective adopters and the child prior to the panel recommendation and agency decision which approves the plan for adoption of the child.

The only exception to this is where the prospective adopters are already the adoptive parents of the child’s sibling, where the importance of maintaining contact between the siblings may override other considerations.

Adopters must be clear that no guarantees about placement can be given, until the panel has made its recommendation and the agency has approved the plan, and the agency has obtained authority to place the child.
2.5 A further exception to the two points above is if a child is placed under Regulation 24 or Regulation 25a, whereby the child is being fostered by their prospective adopters often prior to the Agency Decision Maker confirming the adoption plan and a Placement Order being made. Please refer to the policy and procedure in respect of this for further information.
2.6 Life Appreciation Meetings must be routinely built into the process and should be held ideally shortly before the placement is considered by the adoption panel, or as soon as possible thereafter and before introductions begin.
2.7 Introductions should not begin until the placement has been recommended by the adoption panel and approved by the agency, and the agency has authority to place the child by virtue of formal parental consent or a Placement Order.


3. Guidance

3.1

Where the agency is proposing to place a child with prospective adopters it should provide them with the following information:

  • The Child’s Permanence Report;
  • Reports on the child’s health, education and any special needs;
  • Photographs and/or videos of the child.
The confidentiality of such information should be stressed and prospective adopters should be asked to confirm in writing that they will keep it confidential, and that they will return it to the agency if requested to do so.
3.2

The agency must also meet with the prospective adopters to discuss the proposed placement and ascertain their views. In addition it should address the following issues:

  • The prospective adopters’ views of the contact arrangements that are being proposed;
  • Whether they would be willing to meet the birth parents at a later stage, if considered appropriate.
The agency must also provide any further counselling or information that may be required. This may include meeting with the medical adviser if the child has complex health needs, for example.
3.3 The prospective adopters should subsequently have the opportunity to meet the child’s current carers, for discussion about the child and their needs.
3.4 Workers should be sensitive to the impact of the information provided to the prospective adopters, and ensure that opportunities are provided for them to reflect on this, ask questions and seek clarification. Whilst there is likely to be an impetus to place the child as soon as possible, it is vital that the prospective adopters feel that they have been able make an informed decision to proceed with the placement.
3.5 The Life Appreciation Meeting is a further stage in information sharing, which should normally take place before the proposed placement is presented to the adoption panel. This meeting should help the adopters understand the child’s history and experiences more fully, particularly in terms of attachment issues and developmental needs. It will also prepare and equip adopters to meet the child’s present and future needs more adequately.
3.6 Where a much older child is involved, consideration must be given to how far he/she can be engaged in the pre-panel preparation process.
3.7

In very exceptional circumstances where a one-off meeting occurs, extreme care will need to be given to how it will be explained to the child. There should be an expectation of honesty where possible. A meeting should not be regarded as a “sighting” where the child is not aware of what is occurring. However, such meetings will be very rare, given the potential damaging impact on the child if the placement does not proceed.

If the placement is an interagency placement there will be an adoption support planning meeting held which is chaired by a social worker from the Home Finding Team which is part of the matching process.
3.8 The agency’s approval of a placement constitutes permission to proceed, assuming that authority to place the child for adoption has been obtained. This is on the basis that both the adopters and the child (according to age and understanding) wish to do so, and there are no pre-placement indications that the arrangement will not be in the child’s best interests.
3.9 It is possible that, having started introductions, either the child or the prospective adopters decide that they do not wish to continue with the introductory process. Support should be offered to both parties by their respective workers, and consideration should be given to convening a meeting to address the issues. This meeting could, if appropriate, follow the format of a Disruption Meeting.

End