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11.2.14 Placement Support and Disruption Meetings (Fostering and Adoption)

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter details the procedures to be followed for Placement Support Meetings and Disruption Meetings for foster care placements and Nottinghamshire children placed for adoption or Nottinghamshire approved adopters, where disruption occurs prior to the Adoption Order.This has amalgamated previous PPG's -Placement Support and Disruption Meetings (Foster Care) and Child Placement Disruption Meetings (Adoption).

RELEVANT LEGISLATION AND GUIDANCE

Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011

Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005 (Regulation 36(10))

Adoption and Children Act 2002 Guidance (2011) Chapter 5, paragraphs 31 - 41

AMENDMENT

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


Contents 

  1. Introduction
  2. Placement Planning Meeting for Foster Placements
  3. Placement Support Meeting
  4. Disruption Meetings in Foster Placements
  5. Disruption Meeting in Adoption Placements
  6. Convening a Disruption Meeting in Adoption Placements
  7. Preparing for the Disruption Meeting in Adoption Placements
  8. Conduct of the Disruption Meeting in Adoption Placements
  9. After the Disruption Meeting in Adoption Placements
  10. Safeguarding Children

    Appendix A: Reports to be Provided to the Adoption Placements Disruption Meeting Chair

    Appendix B: Draft agenda for the Adoption Placements Disruption Meeting

    Appendix C: The Adoption Placements Disruption Meeting - A guide for those Attending

    Appendix D: The Adoption Placements Disruption Meeting Feedback Form

    Appendix E: The Adoption Placements Disruption Policy - East Midlands Consortium


1. Introduction

The prime aims of this policy are to:

  • Maximise placement stability;
  • Prevent fostering and adoptive placement breakdowns;
  • Ensure where placements do break down, this is managed in such a way as to minimise the damage experienced by the Looked After Child.

It is believed these aims will be best achieved if:

  1. There is a proactive approach to placement support, anticipating and planning for difficulties rather than reacting when they occur;
  2. Social workers and supervising foster care workers work together with shared priorities of maximising how a placement meets the child's needs and avoiding breakdown;
  3. The role and contribution of the foster carer is respected and supported and their views and concerns taken account of;
  4. Placement endings are planned rather than left to happen;
  5. We have a process for learning from placements which do break down.


2. Placement Planning Meeting for Foster Placements

2.1 Current procedures for Looked After Children direct that whenever a child starts a new placement a Placement Planning Meeting should take place as soon as possible after the placement commences (usually within 72 hours). Alongside its other functions this meeting should consider the support needs of the placement including the possibility of regular placement support meetings.


3. Placement Support Meeting

3.1 The purpose of Placement Support Meetings is to:

  1. Identify the current and future support needs of the placement;
  2. Plan how these needs will be met;
  3. Monitor and evaluate the provision of support.

3.2 Placement Support Meetings are likely to be particularly useful:

  1. When a long term foster placement is planned. Experience shows that a proactive approach in planning these placements and anticipating support needs greatly increases the chances of such placements being successful and not breaking down;
  2. When a placement is thought to be at risk of breaking down (but prior to crisis point), a Placement Support Meeting can help analyse the issues that threaten the placement's stability and produce a plan of action to address these.

3.3 Chair and Attendees

Placement Support Meetings will normally be chaired by the case responsible Team Manager. In addition the following should be invited to the meeting:

  • Social worker for the child;
  • Supervising Foster Worker;
  • Present Carers;
  • Child or Young Person (if appropriate);
  • Family Resource Worker (if involved);
  • Parents of the child or young person (if appropriate);
  • Anyone else who might usefully contribute to the goals of the meeting.

3.4 Attendance of Child or Young Person

A judgment will often be required about whether the looked after child should attend the meeting. This judgment should take account of the following:

  • The child's wishes and feelings;
  • The age and understanding of the child;
  • The likely conduct and content of the meeting and possible impact on the child;
  • A general presumption in favour of attendance unless there are good reasons against this;
  • Whether the child/young person attends or not, regard needs to be given to:
  • Maximising the child/young person's understanding of what is happening;
  • Ensuring the child's/young person's views are obtained and taken account of.

3.5 Attendance of Parents

Whether to invite parents will primarily be determined by a judgment as to whether their involvement will help promote the goals of the meeting. Workers and managers should also be aware that placement breakdown can sometimes initiate a return home for a child and where this is appropriate, encourage parental involvement. Again whether parents attend or not, regard needs to be given to:

  • Ensuring parents are appropriately informed about what is happening to their child;
  • Ensuring parental views are known and taken account of.

3.6 Preparation for the Meeting

Although helpful and desirable, preparation of a written report may not always be practicable in the timescale. As a minimum however the case responsible social worker should brief the chair before the meeting and provide them with copies of relevant background papers e.g. Last LAC review, Child and Family Assessments, Care Plan. All professionals also need to come to the meeting prepared to contribute relevant information and adopt a positive, problem solving approach to maintaining the placement.

3.7 Format of the Meeting

An agenda along the following lines is suggested:

  1. Introduction and explanation of the purpose of the meeting;
  2. General background (summary):
    • Family Background (summary);
    • Reasons for being Looked After;
    • Assessment of Needs;
    • Care Plan;
    • Placement History.
  3. History of Current Placement;
  4. What are the support needs of the placement;
  5. Events/Factors which may undermine stability;
  6. What has been done up to now to support placement/prevent breakdown?
  7. What can be done to support the placement and/or prevent breakdown?
    • Does the focus of social work intervention need changing or clarifying?
    • Does the work need to focus on particular problems or tasks e.g. school attendance, staying out at night?
    • Would some contract-based work help?
    • What other forms of intervention might help e.g. solution focused?
    • What additional support might be helpful e.g. enhanced fostering worker/social worker visits, some form of respite?
    • Would the involvement of a Support Worker assist /referral to another agency assist?

Whilst working through this agenda, care should be taken to ensure the child/young person's views are represented and taken account of.

3.8 Record of Meeting

The Chair should ensure notes of the meeting are taken and circulated. Detailed minutes are not necessary but the notes should include a clear record of the actions agreed at the meeting.


4. Disruption Meetings in Foster Placements

4.1

Disruption meetings have a similar function and agenda to Placement Support Meetings with the following differences:

  1. They should be convened when placements are at or close to breakdown which the Placement Support process has not succeeded in addressing;
  2. Whilst still endeavouring to prevent breakdown, where this is judged to be inevitable, the meeting should help to plan this in a way which minimises the damage to the child;
  3. The meeting will also aim to identify lessons for future practice.
To facilitate the above the meeting should be independently chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer.


5. Disruption Meeting in Adoption Placements

A disruption meeting in adoptive placements is intended as a positive opportunity to explore the child's history and needs, the adopters' journey towards adoption and the way in which these two strands have come together.

The meeting attempts to analyse the events and issues leading up to the placement, to understand what happened in the placement and what led to its ending. The main purpose is to help meet the child's needs both now and in the future. Such meetings also assist practice learning, and may also prove supportive to the family recovering from the disruption experience.

If staff become aware of an adopted child where a disruption is threatened or has occurred, the Support After Adoption Team must be notified as soon as possible.


6. Convening a Disruption Meeting in Adoption Placements

6.1 As soon as an adoptive placement is known to be disrupting, the child’s social worker or Team Manager should notify the Service Manager (Adoption). The Service Manager will make arrangements for one of the non-case holding Adoption Managers to convene a disruption meeting in due course, and confirm with the child’s social worker who they should contact.
6.2 As soon as the placement has disrupted, the child’s social worker should inform the named manager, who will be responsible for co-ordinating the disruption meeting and will act as adviser to the chair of the meeting when it takes place.
6.3 Disruption meetings should be held.The timing of the disruption meeting should take into account the feelings and circumstances of those involved. If held too soon after the disruption, feelings are too raw and people defensive. If held too long after the disruption, events can be rationalised and people may be less open to deeper emotional issues.
6.4

The adviser will identify a person to act as chair. This person must be independent of the child's plan and of the approval of the adopter. The chair must have sound knowledge of the needs of children, including an understanding of attachment issues and family placement processes. S/he must also be sensitive to the anxieties of personnel responsible for the placement. It is essential that the chair has experience and skills in chairing complex meetings. It is also desirable, though not essential, that s/he has had experience of disruption within her/his own practice.

For "in house" placements, the chair would be independent of the case and if necessary the authority, This should be arranged through the Adoption Service Manager.

For inter-agency placements, the chair will be arranged by the Adoption Manager convening the meeting. The chair will be someone independent of both agencies, with the costs of the meeting being shared. This will have been agreed at the interagency meeting prior to placement and recorded in BAAF Form H.

Where the interagency placement was with an agency which is a fellow member of the East Midlands Consortium, the Consortium's Disruption Policy will be followed (see Appendix E: The Adoption Placements Disruption Policy - East Midlands Consortium).
6.5 The adviser will also request a minute taker who will either be a member of the business support staff of the case-holding Locality or the Adoption Service where this is possible.
6.6 This then releases the adviser to concentrate on professional matters.
6.7

The meeting organiser e child's social worker and the adoption worker for the names and contact details of those who should be invited to attend the disruption meeting.

Those normally invited are as follows:

  • Current social worker and Team Manager for the child;
  • Current social worker and Team Manager for the adopters;
  • Any previous social workers or Team Managers for the child or adopters who have had a significant role/involvement;
  • Foster carer prior to the placement which disrupted;
  • Foster carer's social worker;
  • Present carer, if different from above;
  • Present carer's social worker;
  • The adopter/s who have experienced the disruption;
  • Independent Reviewing Officer;
  • Homefinding Team social worker;
  • Other professionals if significant (e.g. teacher, therapist).
The adviser will consider whether participants are invited for the full meeting or for part of the meeting, consulting with relevant staff as necessary.
6.8

A judgment will be required about whether the child/young person should be invited to attend the meeting. This should take account of the following factors:

  • The child's wishes and feelings;
  • The age and understanding of the child;
  • The likely conduct and content of the meeting, and its possible impact on the child.
If the child is invited to attend the disruption meeting, the social worker must provide thorough preparation beforehand, and support the child during and after the meeting. The chair should consider meeting the child beforehand with the social worker.
6.9

In arranging the meeting, the adviser should first identify a date with the chair, child’s social worker and team manager, and then establish whether the prospective adopters wish to attend and are able to do so on the suggested date via their worker.

This can be extremely valuable for all concerned, not least the prospective adopters themselves.

Once the date has been confirmed, other participants should be invited. Only if key people are unable to attend on the given date should this be re-negotiated.
6.10 The adviser will send to the child's social worker and the adoption worker a list of reports that will be required by the chair in preparation for the disruption meeting. These must be sent to the adviser by the deadline given. The adviser will ensure that the chair has access to appropriate reports to prepare for the meeting. (see Appendix A: Reports to be Provided to the Adoption Placements Disruption Meeting Chair).
6.11 Often take a full working day. Participants should be prepared for this, to ensure there is time to discuss events in sufficient detail.


7. Preparing for the Disruption Meeting in Adoption Placements

7.1 Social workers and Team Managers should be familiar with this policy and guidance. All those attending will be sent a copy of the draft agenda (see Appendix B: Draft agenda for the Adoption Placements Disruption Meeting) and general guidance on disruption meetings (see Appendix C: The Adoption Placements Disruption Meeting - A guide for those Attending) by the adviser.
7.2

The adviser will convene an initial meeting with the chair to discuss the purpose of disruption meetings and the circumstances of the specific case in question. The adviser outlines from his/her own experience the way in which such meetings normally operate. At this meeting the chair is provided with a copy of:

  • The bundle of reports which have been put together from the files. These should be annotated for ease of reference, mainly for the benefit of the minute-taker;
  • The letter of invitation, including time and venue;
  • The Notes for Participants;
  • The Draft Agenda;
  • The list of invitees.
Further discussion may identify other reports or issues on which the chair needs clarification. A date is set for a second meeting to take place shortly before the Disruption Meeting itself.
7.3

By the time of the second meeting, the chair and adviser must have read the reports. The second meeting provides an opportunity for a general update on additional information, those attending, the possible dynamics between parties in the meeting and how this might be managed etc. This meeting also enables the identification of any obvious issues or areas that need to be covered in the disruption meeting, as well as gaps in available information.

The minute taker may be invited to attend this meeting with the chair and adviser, which may be particularly useful if this is their first Disruption Meeting. This allows the minute taker to be made aware of how the meeting will be conducted, and expectations for recording etc.
7.4

In preparation for the meeting, the child's social worker should:

  • Be familiar with the information on the child's file, identifying any gaps and rectifying these if possible before the meeting;
  • Ensure the file is in good order so that information can be accessed without undue delay;
  • Have as much information as possible about the child's early life, moves, changes of carers and quality of attachments;
  • Be able to present a concise summary of the child's development, relationships, health and education etc. and the needs which arise from these;
  • Review the history of the case through all stages and note significant dates;
  • Consider, with the benefit of hindsight, whether anything could or should have been done differently;
  • Identify any aspects of the process relating specifically to the child which may have played a part in the eventual disruption of the placement;
  • Consider what went well and what was difficult;
  • Consider the support offered and provided (by social workers and other agencies) in terms of its value and what more may have been needed emotionally and practically;
  • If more than one child is involved, the social worker will need to consider the dynamics of the sibling relationships, their impact on the placement, and the anticipated or actual effects of the disruption on the relationship.
Where a paper file exists, this should be brought to the meeting.
7.5

In preparation for the meeting, the adopters' social worker should:

  • Be familiar with the information on the adopters' file;
  • Ensure the file is in good order so that information can be accessed without undue delay;
  • Review the history of the case through all stages (enquiry to placement and beyond) and note significant dates;
  • Consider, with the benefit of hindsight, whether anything could or should have been done differently;
  • Identify any aspects of the process relating specifically to the adopters which may have played a part in the eventual disruption of the placement;
  • Consider the ways in which the adopters met, exceeded or fell short of the worker's expectations in their parenting of the child/ren in placement;
  • Have detailed information available about links considered and the reasons these links were not pursued;
  • Consider what went well and what was difficult;
  • Consider the support offered and provided (by social workers and other agencies) in terms of its value and what more may have been needed emotionally and practically.
Where a paper file exists, this should be brought to the meeting.
7.6

In preparation for the meeting, adopters should be encouraged and assisted by their worker to think through:

  • Each successive stage of the adoption process and their views and experience of this at the time;
  • With the benefit of hindsight, whether anything could or should have been done differently;
  • What they coped well with and found satisfying and what was difficult;
  • What was helpful in the support they received and what else was needed;
  • What precipitated the disruption of the placement;
  • Were Whether there were aspects of their own past experiences which may have contributed to stress during the placement;
  • What support would they like to receive from the agency.
7.7

In preparation for the meeting, the foster carer's worker should consider:

  • The nature of the relationship between the foster carer/s and the child and any issues or circumstances which may have affected the move;
  • How the foster carer was involved in moving the child and the level of support that was needed;
  • The process of introductions from the worker's perspective;
  • With the benefit of hindsight, whether anything could or should have been done differently.
7.8

In preparation for the meeting, foster carers should be encouraged and assisted by their worker to think through:

  • What was the child like to live with prior to placement;
  • What was the child's understanding of the plan and how well prepared was s/he;
  • The process of introductions from the foster carer's perspective;
  • With the benefit of hindsight, whether anything could or should have been done differently.
7.9

In many cases a child whose adoption placement has disrupted will return to the previous foster carer, but sometimes this might not be possible or appropriate.

In preparation for the meeting, the current carer should be encouraged and assisted by their worker to think through:

  • What was the child like on their return from the adoptive placement?
  • What is the child's understanding of what happened and why?
  • How has the child reacted/adjusted to these events?
  • What support do the carers and the child need now?
  • What is the child's view of the adoption plan now?
7.10 The adviser will also write to those professionals in other agencies who have been invited to attend the meeting, outlining the preparation that is likely to be helpful.


8. Conduct of the Disruption Meeting in Adoption Placements

8.1

General

  8.1.1 The venue should be comfortable and private, with "time out" facilities. Refreshments must be available throughout the day.
  8.1.2 Promptness is important so that everybody can participate.
  8.1.3 The chair should ensure that everyone at the meeting has the opportunity to contribute. Although there will be key contributors at different stages of the meeting, the chair should ask for any additional comments or contributions at the end of each section.
  8.1.4

The role of the adviser is to support the chair and provide advice as required. In the inevitably complex discussions that take place and the following up of particular themes or issues which may need a view from a number of participants, it is easy to lose the thread or the logical progression of chronological events. The adviser is able to monitor the discussion and prompt the chair as necessary). The adviser can also intervene to ask for further clarification or specific dates, for example, to ensure that this information will be recorded in the minutes.

The adviser can work alongside the chair in monitoring progress through the agenda and can act as a sounding board for the chair during the course of the meeting or at breaks.

8.2

Process

  8.2.1 Prospective adopters will be met by their social worker on arrival.
  8.2.2 The chair may meet the prospective adopters before the meeting begins to reassure them about the purpose of the meeting and acknowledge anxieties.
  8.2.3

At the beginning of the meeting the Chair introduces herself/himself and confirms their independence of any management responsibility for the case in question. This is followed by:

  • Introductions of those attending and their involvement with the case;
  • Reminder about the purpose of the meeting and confirmation of the agenda to be followed;
  • Acknowledging the feelings that people bring to the meeting;
  • Establishing basic ground rules (e.g. courtesy and respect, allow people to speak without interruption, permission for "time out" if needed etc.).
  8.2.4 The Chair acknowledges that whilst there will be obvious "lead" people for each of the stages that will be covered, any other participant who has a valid contribution to make should feel free to do so. The Chair will ensure that before moving from one section to the next there is the opportunity for any additional comments.

8.3

Agenda

  8.3.1

The child's background, behaviour and individual needs

  • A chronology of the child's moves, changes of carer, school and family membership before becoming looked after, and any other major changes;
  • A concise summary of the child's development, relationships, health and education etc and the needs which arise from these;
  • The child's history of attachment, how control has been exerted in his life (for example through fear or inability to set limits) and inappropriate emotional demands made by parents;
  • The child's knowledge of their past and sense of self identity, including how feelings are expressed.
(The chair may wish to summarise the child's life so far by pointing out the sorts of attachments the child would have experienced and what difficulties have arisen).
  8.3.2

The child's experience of being looked after

  • A chronology of the child's moves and the type and quality of care experienced since becoming looked after. The quality and type of attachments made and any difficulties. Contact with and attachment to birth family;
  • If the child is a BME child, What has been the impact of the child’s experiences on their sense of identity? This should take into account cultural, religious and linguistic considerations;
  • If the child has special needs or difficulties in learning, how did these affect relationships and experiences in care arrangements?
  • The decision to place the child for adoption - how was that decision reached?
(The chair should summarise the different sorts of parenting a child is thought to have received and what the difficulties may have been. It is helpful to point out the child's developmental stages and their ability to make and sustain attachments. The chair should work with the group members to identify what messages the child may have received about him or herself, family relationships and understanding of the past).
  8.3.3

The child's preparation for adoption

  • What was the child's understanding of why they could not stay with the birth family?
  • What direct work was undertaken with the child, by whom?
  • Did the child have a life story book at the point of placement?
  • For BME children, include exploration of their feelings (positive and negative) towards their BME identity.
  8.3.4

Contact issues

  • What contact did the child have with birth family members prior to their placement for adoption?
  • Did a ‘goodbye’ contact take place?
  • What were the plans for ongoing contact?
  • What implications does the disruption have for contact?
  8.3.5

The prospective adopters - assessment and preparation for placement

  • History of the application - enquiry, preparation and assessment, approval and any issues for panel when the application was approved;
  • History of linking and matching, information about how the adopters were linked with this child or children, and what other children they considered;
  • What the prospective adopters brought to the placement from their own history, including experiences which gave them confidence and those which have caused them to be vulnerable;
  • How the family expected to cope with an adopted child's behaviour. What range of behaviour had the prospective adopters had experience of, or been prepared for?
  • What sort of circumstances would lead the prospective adopters to ask for help and in what circumstances would asking for help be difficult?
  8.3.6

Matching the child and prospective adopters

  • What were seen as the key issues and the strengths and vulnerability of the placement, and were there any obvious gaps?
  • How did the workers expect the prospective adopters to meet the needs of the child?
  • If the prospective adopters were an inter-racial couple what was their sense of security and identity, and what was that of children already in the family? What was this child’s place in the family? How did this compare with any other children in the family? How did this impact on the prospective adopters’ own identity within the family unit?
  • What were the prospective adopters’ feelings held about contact with the birth family, if any? Was there any Adoption panel/agency advice on contact?
(The chair should summarise the prospective adopters' abilities and vulnerabilities as anticipated and their perceived strengths and weaknesses in understanding and responding to the child's level of functioning).
  8.3.7

Information sharing

  • What information did the prospective adopters receive about the child and in what format?
  • Who were the prospective adopters able to talk to about the children before the placement? (e.g. foster carer, medical adviser etc);
  • Was a Life Appreciation Meeting held? Give details and outcomes;
  • Do the prospective adopters feel they had all the information they needed before the placement was made? If not, what was missing?
  8.3.8

Introductions

  • How were introductions perceived by all parties?
  • Were they any significant issues or practical problems that arose during introductions?
  • Were any changes made to the plan for introductions?
  • What was the date and outcome of the review of the introductions?
  8.3.9

The move

  • How was this managed?
  • What was the child's reaction to the move from the foster carer?
  • What did the child understand about any future contact with the foster carer?
  8.3.10

The child's time with the prospective adopters

  • How long was the child in placement?
  • In general terms, what went well and what was more difficult?
  • What were the early stages of the placement like (e.g. up to first review);
  • What issues emerged for the child and prospective adopters, and when?
  • How the family progressed with the child placed, in terms of adjustment, handling behaviour, receiving and asking for support.
  8.3.11

Support to the placement

  • What social work support was available to the placement, and was this adequate?
  • What other support was available to the placement, and how effective was this? (e.g. Health, Education, therapeutic services etc);
  • Was the placement supported adequately financially, subject to the conditions of the Financial Support Scheme;
  • Record any differences of opinion re support offered and provided.
  8.3.12

The breakdown

  • What factors contributed to the breakdown of the placement?
  • Detail the circumstances and chronology of events leading to the disruption, and how the precipitating factors were handled.
  8.3.13

The child now

  • The child's views and understanding of what has happened;
  • The child's current situation.
  8.3.14

The future

  • What support does the child need?
  • What support does the adoptive family need?
  • What do the adopters and child need now to enable them to grieve and move on?
  • Is there any contact (current or planned) between the child and the adoptive family?
  8.3.15

Key issues arising from the placement

The chair should give all participants the opportunity to identify the message/s that have impressed them before summarising the key issues from the meeting.

  • Is there anything that might have helped to sustain the placement? Would it have been right to try to sustain the placement?
  • The chair should summarise what has been learnt about the child's ability to attach and the adopters’ ability to bond;
  • For the prospective adopters the chair will reflect upon the impact of their own values The chair will reflect on the impact of rejection and relationship breakdown, for the child and the adopters;
  • At the end of the meeting all participants will be given a feedback form (see Appendix D: The Adoption Placements Disruption Meeting Feedback Form).


9. After the Disruption Meeting in Adoption Placements

9.1 Approximately two weeks after the meeting, the adviser and chair should meet to reflect on the process and content of the meeting, and begin to identify areas which the chair may wish to focus on in formulating his/her conclusions.
9.2 Draft minutes, which should be completed within 4 weeks of the disruption meeting, are sent to the chair and adviser who then arrange to meet to make any amendments they consider necessary and to subsequently agree a final draft.
9.3 The chair completes the conclusions and recommendations to the agency, which is the chair's sole prerogative and should not be influenced by the adviser.
9.4 The minutes of the meeting are circulated by the adviser to those who attended the meeting. If participants were only present for part of the meeting they receive only the minutes of that part. The appropriate minutes will be sent to the foster carer's supervising social worker who should go through these with the foster carer. A copy should not be left with the foster carer, so that the confidentiality of the prospective adopters can be respected and preserved.
9.5 Full minutes are sent to the appropriate Children's Service Manager (for discussion with the Team Manager), and the Service Manager (Adoption).The minutes provide valuable information for the improvement of practice and need to be used for this, as well as the central purpose of planning for the child's future.
9.6 Minutes are also circulated Outcomes and areas for learning and development are shared with members of the adoption panels.
9.7 The agency periodically considers disruptions that have occurred to attempt to identify any common or key factors that might inform future practice.


10. Safeguarding Children

If the meeting concludes that any issue from the disruption indicates that the prospective adopters or foster carers may be unsuitable to work with or care for children, this should be discussed urgently with the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO)/Team of Designated Officers. For further information see Managing Allegations/ Concerns about Staff and Volunteers who Work with Children (including Foster Carers and Prospective Adopters) Procedure.

References

  1. "Foster Home Breakdown" by Berridge and Cleaver (1987);
  2. Adoption and Fostering 2.2.1978 - the Dynamics of Disruption by Kay Donley;
  3. "Learning from Disruption" by Sheila Smith - BAAF 1994;

    (The Department acknowledges in particular the reliance of this policy document on work by Sheila Byrne, nee Smith);
  4. "Understanding Disruption" by John Fitzgerald - BAAF 1990.

Other Useful References

  1. "Disruption Risks Rates and Responses" by Barth and Berry (1988) Aldine & de Gryter (USA);
  2. "Problem Adoptions" Katherine Davies Fishman Atlantic Monthly USA September 1992.


Appendix A: Reports to be Provided to the Adoption Placements Disruption Meeting Chair

Child's Worker

  • Flowchart of child's moves and changes of carer from birth;
  • Child's Permanence Report;
  • Adoption Placement Report;
  • Minutes of adoption panel (Plan);
  • Minutes of adoption panel (Match);
  • Any other minutes of adoption panel re child;
  • Adoption Support Plan/s;
  • Background Information Report;
  • Adoption Placement Agreement (including timetable for introductions);
  • Minutes of midway review of introductions;
  •  Minutes of reviews since placement for adoption, to include internal disruption minutes for interagency placements;
  • Any other information (e.g. case notes) that may be helpful.

Adopters' Worker

  • PAR and Second Opinion/Final Visit report (if applicable);
  • Minutes of adoption panel (Application);
  • Any other minutes of adoption panel re prospective adopter/s;
  • Notes of any review/s of prospective adopter's approval;
  • Any other information (e.g. case notes) that may be helpful.


Appendix B: Draft agenda for the Adoption Placements Disruption Meeting

  1. The child's background, behaviour and individual needs - key points;
  2. The child's preparation for adoption - including understanding of why they could not stay with birth family (life story work, direct work etc);
  3. Contact issues;
  4. The adoptive family - preparation for placement;
  5. The link - why the placement seemed a good match;
  6. Information sharing - what the adopters received and in what format, impression gained, any gaps etc;
  7. Introductions - how these progressed, how the child and prospective adopters felt and how each coped. Any significant issues in relation to the foster carers and their role during introductions;
  8. The move - saying goodbye to foster carers, the child's reactions on moving. What did the child understand about future contact with foster carers?
  9. The child's time with the adoptive family - what went well? What was more difficult?
  10. Support to placement - including education and any therapeutic work;
  11. The breakdown - what factors contributed to things not working out as had been hoped for or planned;
  12. The child now - child's views and understanding of what happened;
  13. The future - what support does the child need? What support does the family need? - include any contact between the child and the family;
  14. Key issues arising from the placement - what, if anything might have helped? Is there anything that can be learned from this?


Appendix C: The Adoption Placements Disruption Meeting - A guide for those Attending

Why Hold an Adoption Placement Disruption Meeting?

When an adoption placement ends, a meeting about the placement can prove to be a valuable learning exercise. It helps us work out why some situations do not work out as hoped, and recognise any implications for social work practice.

These notes are to clarify the purpose of the meeting, its procedure and what to expect. The purpose of the meeting is to examine the various elements of a placement and bring some logic into the sequence of events that led to the disruption. This will help to:

  1. Meet the child's needs now and in the future;
  2. Support the family in moving on;
  3. Improve the practice of all involved;
  4. Show that disruption is rarely the fault of a particular person, nor the result of a single factor.

Such a meeting is likely to last a full working day. The early stages of the meeting are important, so it is not possible to begin until everyone is present. The meeting will be as relaxed as possible given the circumstances, with refreshments available throughout the day.

Who Should be Involved?

All workers involved with the child and the adoptive family and their managers should attend. Also the child's present carer needs to be there, and any significant people from the child's past. The family involved in the disruption should attend if they feel able to (and their worker should be available to talk to them afterwards if that is helpful). A lot is lost if the adoptive family is not able to attend, as they have much to offer. BMEBMEA child or young person's views should be accurately represented. With good preparation, support and sensitive chairing, a young person can sometimes attend a disruption meeting themselves. This certainly helps them to understand their situation and participate in future planning.

The chairperson will be someone with knowledge of child development and family placement, and will be experienced in chairing large and complex meetings. S/he may have had experience of disruption in her/his own professional experience.

A member of our business support staff will take notes and a written report will later be circulated to everyone taking part.

What is Considered

Agenda - the following will be considered in sequence:

  1. The child's background, behaviour and individual needs;
  2. The child's experience of being looked after;
  3. The child's preparation for adoption;
  4. Contact issues;
  5. The adoptive family - assessment and preparation for placement;
  6. Matching the child and adopters;
  7. Information sharing;
  8. Introductions;
  9. The move;
  10. The child's time with the adoptive family;
  11. Support to the placement;
  12. The breakdown;
  13. The child now;
  14. The future;
  15. Key issues arising from the placement.

Key workers are invited to make the initial contributions at each stage, but the meeting is open to free comment throughout.

The first 3 topics are of great importance and may appear to take a disproportionate length of time, but this is usually unavoidable if we are to gain as full a picture as possible on the child and their experiences.

Towards the end of the meeting the chair will give all those present the opportunity to identify what they feel are the most important messages to have come out of the discussion. The chair will then summarise what s/he considers to be the key issues. Following the meeting, the chair will reflect on the discussion and prepare his/her conclusions and recommendations.

The minutes of the meeting and the chair's conclusions and recommendations are circulated only to those attending and to key decision makers for the child and family's future. Those who attended part of the meeting will receive notes of that part only.

Foster carers will be able to read the relevant parts of the minutes in the presence of their social worker, but will not retain a copy. This protects the confidentiality of the prospective adopters.

Minutes are also circulated to members of all three Adoption Panels for information and learning Information and learning points are also circulated to members of the Adoption Panels.

The agency periodically considers disruptions that have occurred to attempt to identify any common or key factors that might inform future practice.


Appendix D: The Adoption Placements Disruption Meeting Feedback Form

Click here for Appendix D: The Adoption Placements Disruption Meeting Feedback Form.


Appendix E: The Adoption Placements Disruption Policy - East Midlands Consortium

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to provide a framework for the management of disruption meetings.

  • A disruption is defined as the ending of the placement of a child (or children) who has been placed in a prospective adoptive placement. The placement can be ended by being requested by the carers, the child or by the placing authority;
  • Disruption meeting will be called on all inter-agency placements between consortium members.

All parties to the disruption process are responsible for:

  • Giving a time commitment to the disruption meeting;
  • The giving of proper consideration to equality issues;
  • Acting at all times in an open and honest manner about the issues raised by the disruption.

The placing authority with case responsibility for the child will be responsible for:

  • Identifying an independent chair from the other members of the consortium;
  • Agreeing with the chair a suitable date for a disruption meeting and issuing invitations and maps;
  • Providing a suitable venue with refreshments;
  • Providing a minute taker;
  • Providing a copy of the CPR and the matching report to the independent chair;
  • Ensuring that foster carers and significant others are able to attend the disruption meeting if it is agreed that this is appropriate;
  • Ensuring that the views of the child are represented at the meeting;
  • Providing a summary report to the authority's Adoption Panel.

The Authority responsible for the prospective adoption placement will be responsible for:

  • Providing a copy of the PAR to the disruption meeting chair;
  • Ensuring that the voice of the prospective adopters is heard either by their attendance at the meeting or by obtaining a written report from them;
  • Providing the minutes of the disruption meeting and a summary report to authority's Adoption Panel.

Consortium members are responsible for:

  • Giving a commitment to chairing disruption meetings provided that they are neither the child's nor the carer's authority;
  • Learning the lessons of disruption to improve practice within the consortium.

The Chair will be responsible for:

  • Reading in advance all the background papers;
  • Checking and distributing the minutes of the meeting;
  • Producing recommendations;
  • Agreeing who should be invited to the meeting. Agreeing if they should attend for all or part of the meeting;
  • Ensuring that the meeting is run in an open honest and inclusive way;
  • Ensuring the voice of the child is heard;
  • Producing an agenda for the meeting;
  • Disruption meetings for consortium cases are based on the framework contained in "Disruption" {BAAF Publications}.

End