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14.1.4 Foster to Adopt Guidance

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter details the process to be taken when a foster carer proposes to adopt their foster child. It also gives information regarding Adoption Support Services.

RELEVANT LEGISLATION AND GUIDANCE

  • Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005;
  • Adoption and Children Act 2002 Guidance (2011) Chapter 2;
  • Adoption National Minimum Standards 2011, Standard 10;
  • "Preparing and Assessing Prospective Adopters", Practice Guidance issued by the Government in 2006.

See also: Part 11, Fostering.

RELATED CHAPTER

This chapter should be read in the context of the Assessment and Approval of Prospective Adopters Procedure and Placement for Adoption Procedure.

AMENDMENT

In January 2016, this chapter was extensively updated and should be re-read throughout.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Foster Carers as Adopters
  3. Procedure 
  4. Adoption Support Services


1. Introduction

For some children, adoption may best be realised by their foster carer applying to become their adoptive parent. This decision must not be based on an assumption that this is the right plan for the child, but on careful and detailed assessment.

The assessment should focus on the potential of the carer(s) as adoptive parent(s) AND whether this will be in the long-term best interests of the child. To establish this, the specific needs of the child must be clearly identified and understood to determine whether these can be met by the proposed placement. Each case should be considered on its own merits with the welfare of the child being the paramount consideration.

A guiding principle must be that foster carer applicants receive the same standard of assessment, preparation and training, information sharing and support as any other adopters.

Social workers should refer to the general eligibility criteria for adopters (see Assessment and Approval of Prospective Adopters Procedure).


2. Foster Carers as Adopters

2.1 A skilled foster carer cannot be assumed to be an appropriate adoptive parent. Some different competencies are required.
2.2 The Department will provide foster carers wishing to adopt the same package of preparation, assessment and support that is provided to all adopters. However foster carers can be fast-tracked onto Stage Two of the adoption process.


3. Procedure

3.1

If they are currently fostering, they should be advised to put their request in writing to the Team Manager Adoption. An initial visit will then be undertaken by an adoption social worker and the child's social worker, to confirm that the general eligibility criteria for adopters are met.

In addition, the adoption worker will need to be clear about whether the foster carers propose to continue fostering if they adopt the child in question. If this discussion has not already taken place between the foster carers and their social worker, it is important that this happens as soon as possible and that the adoption worker is made aware of the outcome.

All relevant information about the child's background and past experiences must be shared with the foster carers, to ensure that they are making an informed decision. The Adoption social worker will provide the Registration of Interest form, which the carers will complete and return to the adoption social worker should they wish to proceed with the adoption process.

The reasons for supporting the application to adopt should be recorded. If there are any contra-indications related to health, age, lifestyle, criminal convictions or other significant issues, these should be discussed with one of the Team Managers from the Adoption Team.
3.2 The assessment of the foster carers will only begin once authority to place the child for adoption has been obtained, or when an application for a Placement Order has been made and is pending. Indeed it is likely that the child will already have a Placement Order.
3.3 It is essential that before beginning the assessment, there has been full information sharing with the foster carers. The adoption social worker should check that the Child's Permanence Report and medical report have been seen by the foster carers.
3.4 A Life Appreciation Meeting should also be planned by the child's worker - see Child Placements Preparatory Information/Life Appreciation Days Procedure
3.5 Costs/arrangements for childcare and travel to the groups will be the responsibility of the child's worker. Applicants may not be expected to attend all group sessions but should be offered the opportunity to do so.
3.6 Any delays should be monitored and recorded by the review and panel process.
3.7

Therefore it follows that the same reports must be provided in all cases. These are outlined in the following table:

Report Worker responsible
Up-to-date child's permanence plan Child's worker
Medical report on the child Child's worker
PAR on the applicants and references Adoption worker
Medical report on the applicants Adoption worker
Adoption Placement Report Child's worker
Adoption Support Plan Child's worker/adoption worker
3.8 The list of reports above is based on both the application and the match being presented to the Adoption Panel at the same time. This should be the intended practice as it avoids delay. The panel will consider the application to adopt first, and where it recommends that the applicants are suitable to be adoptive parents, will go on to consider the proposed placement and make its recommendation. The agency decision maker subsequently considers both recommendations. If there are any concerns about the recommendation of the suitability of the applicants then consideration will need to be given as to whether or not it is appropriate to proceed with the match being heard.
3.9

The placement will be converted to an adoption placement and covered by Adoption Agencies Regulations once a positive agency decision has been made.

The foster carers will be informed in writing of the date from which the placement becomes an adoption placement.
3.10

The adoption worker who undertakes the assessment will assume responsibility for supporting the adoption placement once the approval and match have been recommended at adoption panel and decision made by the agency decision maker.

The fostering social worker will continue to be involved in relation to any other child who is being fostered by the foster carer adopters.

It is essential that the workers concerned and the foster carer adopters are clear about this separation of support.

A meeting should be convened to complete the Adoption Placement Plan - for further detail, see the Placement for Adoption Procedure. The Adoption Placement Plan can be found on Forms Online.

This will ensure that foster carer adopters have the same access to the information listed in the Adoption Placement Plan as all other adopters.
3.11 The child's worker must prepare a Later Life Letter for the child which should be completed by the time of the Celebration Hearing/Adoption Order - see Later Life Letter.


4. Adoption Support Services

4.1 Foster carers who have adopted their foster children are entitled to access the range of adoption support services that are offered by Nottinghamshire. (See Adoption Support Services Procedure). They should be actively encouraged to take advantage of these services rather than having to contact their fostering social worker, which may be the tendency, particularly if they continue to foster.
4.2 Financial support can be available to foster carers who adopt, subject to the child/ren meeting the eligibility criteria for the scheme. Full details of this can be found in Adoption Financial Support Procedure. A financial information leaflet for foster carer adopters is also available.

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