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14.1.15 Placement Planning Meetings and Introduction to Adoptive Parents

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter details the procedure for planning a child’s placement with prospective adopters, including introductions to the placement, the drawing up of the Adoption Placement Plan and the role played by foster carers.

It also addresses the planning of the meeting of the birth family with the prospective adopters and contact with foster carers following placement. It summarises action when placements do not go ahead.

RELEVANT LEGISLATION AND GUIDANCE

Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005, Regulation 35 and Schedule 5 Information to be included in the Adoption Placement Plan

Adoption and Children Act 2002 Guidance (2011) Chapter 5

Adoption National Minimum Standards, Standard 13

AMENDMENT

In January 2016, information was added in Section 2.1.4, The Adoption Placement Plan, a mandatory document and can be accessed in the framework episode ‘intro to order’.


Contents

  1. Introduction                                                                                         
  2. The Planning Meeting                                                                        
  3. Foster Carer Adoptions                                                                      
  4. Interagency Placements                                                                    
  5. Planning the Introductions                                                                 
  6. The First Meeting                                                                              
  7. Meetings with With Parents/Other Birth Relative                             
  8. Meetings with Other Professionals                                                 
  9. Overnight Stays                                                                                 
  10. Space to Reflect                                                                                
  11. Keep Talking - and Listening!                                                          
  12. Midway Review                                                                                  
  13. Placement Day                                                                                 
  14. Post-Placement Contact with Foster Carers                        
  15. Placements that do not go Ahead                                                  
  16. Other Sources of Helpful Guidance and Material for use in Preparing Children


1. Introduction

1.1 This chapter deals with the Adoption Placement Planning Meeting and the process of introductions for children moving into adoptive families.
1.2 Introductions are a stressful time for everyone involved, but this can be minimised by careful preparation, planning and good communication with all involved, including the child.
1.3 Placement for adoption is intended to be the last of possibly many moves for the child and, therefore should be the most carefully planned. It is important to acknowledge that this will also be another separation for the child and so the child needs to be properly prepared and to understand, as far as their age and ability permits, why, what, when and how things will happen.
1.4 Perhaps more than any other part of the placement process, the planning of introductions evokes strong feelings in workers about what works best, what should be included during introductions and how the move should be managed. It is also an area where custom and practice can easily and inadvertently become confused with policy. This procedure attempts to distinguish between the two and identify the issues which should be considered when designing a plan for introductions.
1.5

The procedure attempts not to be unduly prescriptive or rigid. This is because there is no blueprint for introductions and every aspect of the process should be open for discussion. Workers should approach each situation with an open mind, informed by what has worked well in the past, but recognising that each set of introductions must be tailor-made to suit the individual needs and circumstances of the child. The guiding principles must always be:

  • What is best for the child; and
  • What approach is most likely to achieve the smooth transfer of the physical and emotional care of the child from foster carers to the prospective adopters.


2. The Planning Meeting

A placement planning meeting must be held following approval of the placement by the adoption panel and agency decision maker, and prior to the child being placed for adoption under the Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005.

  • A date for this meeting may be set in advance of the matching panel, but it is important to bear in mind that the agency decision maker has up to 8 working days following panel to make the decision. The date set must take account of this;
  • If authority to place the child for adoption has not yet been obtained by means of formal parental consent or a Placement Order, the placement planning meeting should not be held until this has been resolved.

2.1

Preparing for the Meeting

  2.1.1 Before the meeting the child’s social worker should download the Child’s Portrait from CYPS Forms CH/A/Pl.5) and ask the current carer to complete and bring this to the planning meeting. It may be helpful to alert the foster carer’s supervising social worker to this request and seek their support. Although much of the information should be communicated verbally to the adopters during introductions, it is also helpful for adopters to have a written record which they can refer to.
  2.1.2 The child’s social worker and Team Manager should consider the level of any hospitality allowance to be offered to the foster carer(s) for the period of introductions which takes place in their home, and in respect of any expenses incurred in transporting the child to the adoptive home during introductions. The foster carers should be advised of what has been agreed prior to the meeting. Payment will usually be from Adoption budgets. If long distances are involved the social worker or Team Manager should contact the Service Manager (Adoption) to discuss costs.
  2.1.3 Similarly, to facilitate introductions adopters will be able to claim traveling expenses. If necessary, consideration may be given to paying expenses for accommodation and meals. (See Adoption Financial Support Procedure for full details). Before the planning meeting, the adopters’ social worker should establish what expenses are to be claimed and seek authorisation from the Adoption Team Manager to request such payments. The adopters should be told what has been agreed prior to the meeting. Payment will be from adoption budgets and must be requested by the prospective adopter’s social worker or Home Finder using the “One-Off Payment” episode in Framework.
  2.1.4 The child’s worker should prepare a provisional draft of the Adoption Placement Plan in readiness for the placement meeting. This is a mandatory document and can be accessed in the framework episode ‘intro to order’.
  2.1.5 It is likely that there will have been some preliminary discussions about the timescale and “shape” of introductions before the meeting is actually held. This can be helpful in drafting an outline, but it is the planning meeting which brings together the key people and where the plan for introductions should be jointly negotiated, taking all the relevant factors into consideration.
  2.1.6

The following people should attend the meeting:

  • The social worker for the child;
  • The Team Manager for the child (who normally chairs the meeting);
  • The child’s current foster carer/s;
  • The foster carer’s supervising social worker;
  • The prospective adoptive parent/s;
  • The social worker for the prospective adoptive parent/s;

There may be exceptional cases where an older child attends the planning meeting.

Birth relatives should not attend this meeting.

2.2

At the Meeting

  2.2.1 At the planning meeting, the Adoption Placement Plan must be completed. The meeting will also plan the process of introductions (see Section 5, Planning the Introductions onwards).
  2.2.2 All those attending should be given a draft copy of the Adoption Placement Plan at the end of the meeting, apart from the foster carers who will only need the timetable for introductions. Copies should not be circulated to birth relatives.
  2.2.3 The prospective adopters should be advised that they will be asked to sign the Adoption Placement Plan at the time of the midway review of introductions to confirm that they wish to proceed with the placement (see Section 12, Midway Review below). This allows them to consider the elements of the plan outside the planning meeting and gives them the opportunity to discuss any issues or concerns with their worker.
  2.2.4 By signing the Adoption Placement Plan the prospective adopters are in effect notifying the agency that they wish to proceed with the placement, in accordance with Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005, Regulation 35(3).

2.3

After the Meeting

  2.3.1 The appropriate Independent Reviewing Officer will have full access to these documents on framework before the first review after placement.
  2.3.2 The agency is required to notify the prospective adopter in writing of any change to the Adoption Placement Plan.
  2.3.3 A copy of the Adoption Placement Plan and any changes to that plan should be placed on the child’s case record.


3. Foster Carer Adoptions

If a fostering placement is being converted to an adoptive placement it is still important to hold a planning meeting, although the child is already in placement. This should be convened as soon as possible after the agency decision has been made and the agency has Authority to Place for Adoption. Completing the Adoption Placement Plan will ensure that foster carer adopters have the same access to the information listed in the Adoption Placement Plan as all other adopters.


4. Interagency Placements

In inter agency adoption placements the Permanence Team Manager ensures the Adoption Placement plan is completed during the placement planning meeting. This follows on from the Interagency meeting taking place during which the BAAF Form H is completed and circulates it quickly to all participants.

There is an additional meeting organised prior to matching panel for interagency placements, called an adoption support planning meeting which is chaired by the Home Finding social worker. See Inter-Agency Placements Procedure.


5. Planning the Introductions

5.1

Aim of introductions

  5.1.1

The period of introductions aims to:

  • Facilitate the effective and smooth transfer of the physical and emotional care of the child from their current carers to their adoptive carers;
  • Provide an opportunity for the child and family to learn more about each other (e.g. routines, values, rules, roles, expectations) as well as how they express their feelings, affection and disapproval;
  • Provide an opportunity to share reservations so that concerns can be aired and worked with;
  • Begin the process of transferring attachments;
  • Enable foster carers to give permission to the child to move on;
  • Enable prospective adopters to express their commitment to the child without rejecting his/her past;
  • Encourage foster carers and adopters to work together and form a relationship which will enable on-going contact when this is seen to be of benefit to the child.
  5.1.2 In addition to the actual contact time between the child and prospective adopters, it should be clearly identified what other visits or meetings need to be built into the introduction period (e.g. school visits, birth parent meeting with prospective adopters, prospective adopters’ consultation with medical staff if child has special medical needs).
  5.1.3 There should be discussions with the foster carers and prospective adopters about which of them manages the child’s needs at each stage of the introductions and when this role is transferred to the prospective adopters. This should minimise any uncertainty or awkwardness, especially when the prospective adopters are in the foster carers’ home.
  5.1.4 Careful consideration should be given to how children who are already living in the foster carers’ or prospective adopters’ household are included in the introductions and prepared for the child’s move.
  5.1.5 It is essential to ensure that, the child, the foster carers and the prospective adopters are well supported by their respective social workers. The child should be seen separately by their social worker and for siblings, each child should be seen individually.
  5.1.6 Introductions should take place at a time when staff/carers with significant and supportive relationships with the carers and the child are fully available. If this is impossible, it is essential to identify alternative appropriate support.
  5.1.7 It is equally important to ensure that the workers who will be supervising the placement will be available when the child moves into their new family.
  5.1.8 If the child is currently placed with siblings who are not moving with the child, the introductions will need to be explained so that they have an understanding of what is happening for their brother/sister.
  5.1.9

Introductions at times of heightened emotional significance (birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries of deaths etc) should be avoided.

Holidays are often seen as a good time to place school age children, enabling them to begin a new term or half-term in their new school, and providing the opportunity of a period of uninterrupted relationship building with the new family. Whilst this should not be ruled out completely, experience shows that placements which are made at the start of school holidays (especially the long summer holidays) can significantly increase stress in the early days of the placement. Having no natural respite, which the routine of school naturally allows, can create additional pressures for both children and adults at a time when the relationship is still in its infancy. It can also create difficulties if or when the parent has to return to work.

Term-time introductions on the other hand can be helpful as the child has the stimulation they need during the day. Parents can then concentrate on evenings and weekends to build relationships.

Whilst the child’s education is important, the priority in the early days of placement must always be to enable the child and prospective adopters to start building their relationship in circumstances which are the most conducive to achieving this.

  5.1.10 The prospective adopters should be encouraged to keep a record (diary/photos) of the introductions for the child’s Life Story Book.
  5.1.11 Prospective adopters should be advised to plan everyday, commonplace activities during introductions and avoid introducing the child to a variety of new people too quickly. The child needs to identify the prospective adopters as the primary attachment figures, and this can be dissipated by having too many adults involved too quickly.
  5.1.12

Sheila Byrne, writing in the BAAF Good Practice Guide “Linking and Introductions” says:

“There is a degree to which introductions will always be artificial and the real work will not begin until placement and beyond. Yet these are life-changing events for those involved and it is important that while acknowledging the limitations, introductions are managed sensitively and efficiently. This is a critical first step for both child and family and the long-term implications are immense”.

5.2

Timescales and Constraints

  5.2.1

Before setting a timetable it is important to be aware of any factors that might impact on the timing and design of introductions. Examples of this might be:

  • Holiday plans of foster carers or social workers’ leave arrangements;
  • Setting placement date to coincide with school terms or holidays (see 5.1.9 above);
  • Prospective adopters’ adoption leave or work plans.

Realistically, there will often be influences or pressures which will have some bearing on the planning of introductions. It is essential, however, that this does not result in rushed or precipitate action which may be detrimental to the child and prospective adopters, and which in turn could compromise the stability and potential of the placement from the outset.

  5.2.2

Sheila Byrne (Linking and Introductions, BAAF) writes:

“Disruption experience as well as research (Lowe et al, 1999, Thomas et al, 1999) shows that both children and adopters often feel that placements have been made too hurriedly”.

  5.2.3

The approximate duration of introductions will be shaped by the unique circumstances of each child, including their age, developmental stage and understanding and whether they are being placed with siblings. As general guidance, however, the following may be useful:

Age of Child Period of Introductions
0-6 months 3-4 days intensive introduction
6-18 months 7-10 days intensive introduction
18 months-2 ½ years 10-14 days intensive introduction
2 ½ - 5 years 2 weeks intensive introduction
Over 5 years Minimum of 2 weeks, which is likely to be staggered, but normally placed within a month.
  5.2.4

Give extra time to planning introductions for siblings. If siblings have been previously placed together, it is usual for their introductions to take place jointly. If they have been living separately, careful consideration should be given to the pros and cons of staggering the introductions. Issues to consider will include:

  • The quality of the relationship between the children;
  • Their level of contact;
  • Their ages and individual needs;
  • The experience and parenting ability of the adopters;
  • Distance between foster home and adoptive home.

(See Fahlberg, V.  A Child’s Journey Through Placement - Chapter 4).

5.3

Communication

  5.3.1

The period of introductions can be stressful for all concerned. One way to minimise this is to ensure that there is clear and frequent communication between all those involved in the process. This may happen more readily between each party and their respective worker, but it will be vital for the workers to be in regular contact with each other throughout the process, and for the working relationship between the foster carers and prospective adopters to be nurtured and encouraged.

Above all, it will be important for the child to be aware of what is happening.

  5.3.2 It is important that foster carers, adopters and child (at an age appropriate level) understand the purpose of the introductions.
  5.3.3  Plans must be clearly written down for all parties (times, venues, approximate duration of visits etc). The plan should include the reasons for the decisions so that everyone is clear why the process is being managed in this way. The child should be given a timetable of the introductions, perhaps in an alternative and more creative form, so that s/he can understand the process.

5.4

Roles and Responsibilities

One result of clear communication is that everyone understands the roles and responsibilities they each have in relation to each other and the process of introductions. This should be clearly recorded in the Adoption Placement Plan.

5.5

Changes only by Agreement

Any proposed change to the final plan must be negotiated and agreed by all parties, and must not be the result of a unilateral decision of any of the parties. There will have been good reasons for planning the introductions as they were originally intended; there should be equally good reasons for changing any aspect of the plan. It is suggested that the Team Manager who chaired the Planning Meeting should be consulted if a change to the original plan is requested by any party.

5.6 

Placements at a Distance

  5.6.1

Interagency or long distance placements present additional challenges and may impact on introductions in the following ways:

  • The pace and “shape” of introductions may be influenced by the distances to be travelled;
  • The periods of contact with the child when introductions are based within Nottinghamshire may be longer and more intensive;
  • In addition to contact time with the child, meetings with birth parents or other relatives, school teacher, other siblings etc add to the intensity;
  • There are potentially fewer opportunities for prospective adopters to have a breathing space to reflect and take stock - this is also more difficult when they are not in their own home;
  • When visits transfer to the prospective adopters’ home foster carers may stay in the area, which may reduce the “alone time” the child and prospective adopters have together;
  • The pace and venues of introductions may make it more difficult for prospective adopters to make last-minute preparations to receive the child into their home on the date of placement;
  • The change of environment may be even more marked for the child who moves to a different part of the country.
  5.6.2 When planning introductions for such placements, workers should be aware of the above issues and the potential risks they pose. Every effort should be made to ensure that these do not compromise the process.


6. The First Meeting

6.1

After the Planning Meeting has been completed and the timetable for introductions have been agreed, comes the long-anticipated first meeting between the child and the prospective adopters. This is often arranged immediately after the Planning Meeting and marks the beginning of introductions, although there may be some advantages in arranging this for the next day. For example:

  • The Planning Meeting does not need to be rushed;
  • Everyone has time to “digest” the plan for introductions;
  • The first meeting can take place when the child and prospective adopters are “fresh” rather than at the end of a long and tiring day;
  • Offers foster carers the chance for final preparation of the child before the meeting takes place.

Whatever is decided about the timing of the first meeting, it is essential that everyone involved has been prepared for this.

6.2 The first meeting usually lasts for no more than a couple of hours and takes place in the foster carer’s home with the carer present. The child’s social worker should also be present initially to “introduce” the child to the prospective adopters, but may then leave if this seems appropriate.
6.3 Prospective adopters may be surprised if they are immediately welcomed by the child as “Mum” or “Dad”. It is important that they are made aware in advance of the possible emotional impact this may have on them at this very sensitive time. Some see this as confirmation that “it was meant to be” and the fulfilment of their quest for parenthood, whereas others find themselves feeling the real burden of responsibility of becoming a parent to a child who is still a stranger to them. Still others may question what meaning these terms have for the child, particularly when the only mum and dad the child has known previously have been abusive or neglectful.


7. Meetings with With Parents/Other Birth Relative

7.1 There are significant benefits in holding such meetings for both the prospective adopters and the child, particularly if there is going to be some form of on-going contact. Prospective adopters are expected to meet the birth parent/s or other birth relatives of the child whenever circumstances permit this and will be supported in this by their social worker.
7.2 Prospective adopters may also meet siblings of the child who are in other placements. Again this will be particularly important in setting the scene for future contact.
7.3 Such meetings are often built into the process of introductions, and can add significantly to the stress of this very intense period, depending on the number of birth relatives involved and the outcome of the meetings. It may be appropriate to hold some or all of these meetings at this stage, but careful consideration should be given to this and other options discussed if relevant.
7.4 Whenever they occur, meetings between the prospective adopters and birth relative must be carefully planned, structured and supervised.


8. Meetings with Other Professionals

8.1 Prospective adopters may also need to meet with a variety of other professionals who are involved with the child. Again this will require careful and sensitive planning to avoid them feeling overwhelmed during the introductions.
8.2 It is likely, and desirable, that meeting with health professionals or CAMHS staff, for example, will have taken place prior to introductions as part of the information-sharing process. In many cases the only meeting that will be required is with the child’s current teacher. It is the responsibility of the workers concerned to ensure that suitable arrangements are made and that the prospective adopters are fully supported.


9. Overnight Stays

When the introductions shift to the prospective adopters’ home, the issue of overnight stays comes into play. Although these are often not used for younger children because it may be difficult to explain what is happening, for older children they may well be a logical progression in building up the time spent alone with the prospective adopters in their home as the introductions move towards placement. As with many other aspects of the introductions this issue should be considered in the light of the two guiding principles mentioned earlier. That is:

  • What is best for the child; and
  • The approach which is most likely to achieve the smooth transfer of the physical and emotional care of the child from foster carers to the prospective adopters.


10. Space to Reflect

10.1 In many cases the relatively short, intense period of introductions represents the culmination of months or years of waiting and there can be pressures, both internal and external, which make people feel that they just want to “get on with it”. Because of this the process of introductions tends to develop its own momentum, but for all concerned, particularly the child and prospective adopters, the stakes are high.
10.2 The impact of introducing a child to a potential new family cannot be underestimated and it is essential that there are plenty of opportunities for reflection and “taking stock”. For the prospective adopters in particular this is a highly-charged experience emotionally as the child becomes a real person to them.
10.3 It is therefore essential that opportunities to reflect are built into the timetable for introductions when these are being planned. These can be as important as the actual contact times with the child and should be seen as a legitimate part of the process rather than delays to the placement date. These “pauses” should be used by everyone involved in the introductions to check out how the introductions are progressing and their own personal part in the process.


11. Keep Talking - and Listening!

11.1  Workers should be in regular contact with the child, foster carers and prospective adopters throughout the process, and should make good use of the “pauses” built into the introductions. In addition they must ensure a high level of communication between themselves so that any issues can be picked up and dealt with quickly.

11.2

The Child

The child’s social worker is responsible for:

  • Helping the child to express what s/he feels about leaving the current carer;
  • Helping the child to ask any questions they may have about the proposed adopters and to think about their feelings;
  • Recognising that the child may be concerned about what the birth parent/s or other members of the birth family may feel about them moving to an adoptive family;
  • Helping the child to express what they feel excited or worried about;
  • Helping the child to think about what it is important to take with them from the current placement;
  • It is important to listen to what the child is saying, but the adults must make the final decision.

The more involved and prepared the child is for the move, the more likely it is that this will be successful, providing a good start to the placement.

11.3

Foster Carers

Foster carers are in the best position to pick up on the child’s feelings during the introductions, but may also have support needs of their own. It is important that they are encouraged to share both with the relevant workers. The child’s worker and supervising social worker should be proactive in identifying any needs by ensuring they maintain regular contact with the child and foster carers throughout the process, and by sharing issues and concerns.

11.4

Prospective Adopters

It is essential that prospective adopters and their worker remain in close contact throughout the introductions. If the prospective adopters are a couple, the social worker must speak to each of them individually, as well as together. This recognises that partners will be affected differently and may experience different reactions to the child. These individual responses can be “hidden” in a joint discussion, but may be critical to the proposed placement.

Prospective adopters should be encouraged by their worker to share any issues or concerns they have. It is natural for them to have anxieties when faced with the reality of assuming full responsibility for a child who is still very much a stranger to them. The social worker should not minimise such anxieties, even if their professional experience suggests that this is normal. The worker should, however, be sensitive to comments which may indicate that real doubts are emerging in the prospective adopters. It is always better to pause and re-plan the timetable to give time for issues to be addressed, than it is to plough ahead regardless and risk inflicting damage on the child and/or prospective adopters.


12. Midway Review

12.1

This meeting should be held once the venue for the introductions has moved to the prospective adopters’ home. It provides a formal opportunity to pause, explore feelings, monitor the progress of introductions, re-plan if necessary and confirm the placement date.

The term “midway” is usually a misnomer as the placement often follows only days after the meeting confirms the placement date.
12.2 It is strongly recommended that there should always be a meeting as opposed to telephone calls to confirm whether the placement should go ahead as provisionally agreed. A meeting gives everybody concerned the chance to come together and reach an informed decision, providing the opportunity to clarify any outstanding issues or actions. Those attending the meeting should be the same people that attended the original Planning Meeting
12.3 The venue and timing of the midway review is also important. It should preferably be on neutral territory. If circumstances dictate that it should be held in the foster home or prospective adopters’ home, it is not appropriate that the child who is to be placed should be present. The time of the meeting should be arranged to enable all key people to attend.
12.4 At the midway review the prospective adopters will also be asked to sign the placement plan, which acts as their notification to the agency that they wish to proceed with the placement, in accordance with Adoption Agencies Regulation 35(3). It is therefore crucial that they feel able to commit themselves to the placement by this stage.


13. Placement Day

13.1 The physical transition of the child from the foster carers to the prospective adopters is always marked by a mixture of feelings for all concerned; loss, excitement, anticipation, anxiety etc. Because of the high emotional impact of this time it is crucial that there has been thorough preparation beforehand and that everyone is aware of how the move will be handled.
13.2 It is normal practice for the prospective adopters to move the child from the foster home; this is seen as them positively “claiming” the child and in most circumstances will coincide with foster carers giving their “blessing” to the child’s new family. If the introductions have been successful and the timing is right, it is likely that managing the move in this way will give the strongest positive message to the child that “we are now responsible for you and want you to be part of our family”. Emotionally, prospective adopters sometimes feel that they are “stealing” the child from loving carers who have given their all to the child, and will need to be supported and reassured by their worker.
13.3 Occasionally, circumstances may result in foster carers taking the child to the prospective adopters’ home as a way of achieving the placement. Whilst this may convey the message to the child that “we trust these people to care for you”, it may also be perceived by the child as being abandoned by trusted carers, and may make a positive transition more difficult to achieve. If a move is planned in this way, there should be good reasons for it, the child should be fully aware of what is happening and why, and it may be necessary for foster carers to have the support of their supervising social worker.
13.4 If prospective adopters do not have their own transport this does not automatically mean that the foster carers should take the child to their new home. Careful consideration will need to be given to how best to manage the move; for example, providing a hire car if one of the adopters is a driver, the child’s social worker taking them to the station or driving the new family home.
13.5 It is usual for moves to be achieved by the prospective adopters arriving at the foster home early in the day, spending just a short time with the foster carers and then leaving with the child. Prolonged farewells are difficult for all concerned.
13.6

Opinions are mixed about whether or not social workers should be present when the child moves and if so which social worker/s; some feel this can be intrusive and that the foster carers and prospective adopters should be allowed to manage this themselves; others feel that it is important for a social worker to be present, even if only in the background, to facilitate the move.

The decision may rest on some of the following issues:

  • How experienced the foster carers are in moving children on to adoption;
  • How difficult the foster carers will find it to say goodbye to the child, especially if they had expressed an interest in adopting the child themselves or have formed a strong emotional bond;
  • How confident or comfortable the prospective adopters feel in achieving the move without a worker being present;
  • How significant the child’s relationship with their social worker is to them, and whether this could facilitate the transition between sets of carers.

The decision should never be based on the fact that a social worker is unavailable because it has been decided to place the child at a weekend.

13.7 If a social worker is to be present it is likely that the child’s worker is the most appropriate person. This enables her/him to act as the “constant”, saying goodbye to the child in the foster home, then seeing the child next within their new family’s home.
13.8 The foster carers’ supervising social worker should agree with them in advance how and when they will be in touch after the move has taken place. In some cases the worker may need to visit as soon as the child has moved, but at the very least there should be telephone contact or a visit on the day of the move.
13.9 The prospective adopters’ worker should contact them by prior agreement on the day of the move. This is likely to be later in the day or in the evening once the child is in bed.


14. Post-Placement Contact with Foster Carers

14.1 In recognition of the important relationship that often exists between foster carers and the child, and to reassure the child once s/he has moved on, it is usual to plan some form of contact once the child has moved into their adoptive family. This may be by phone calls initially, but often the foster carers will visit the child in their new home. Although 6 weeks after placement is often quoted as a suitable time for such a visit, this is not a rigid policy requirement. The timing of the visit needs to be based on what is right for the child.
14.2 Plans will need to be made before the child is placed so that all parties share the same understanding of what will happen in terms of contact. Workers often feel that this can be left to foster carers and prospective adopters to organise themselves once the child has been placed, but this may not be straightforward. Both parties may find it difficult to keep to previous agreements for their own personal reasons or because they believe that it is not in the child’s best interests. Unless the latter point can be substantiated, it is the role of the child’s social worker to ensure that contact takes place as planned. Further work may need to be undertaken with the foster carers and/or prospective adopters by their own workers to facilitate this.
14.3 Reviews after placement will consider all aspects of contact, including that with foster carers, and this is an appropriate forum in which to confirm the timing of a visit from foster carers to the child in their new home.


15. Placements that do not go Ahead 

15.1 Although relatively unusual, it is possible that prospective adopters will feel unable to proceed with the proposed placement as a result of their experiences during introductions. Prospective adopters will never reach this decision easily, often fearing that they will be judged and that it may jeopardise their chances of being considered for another child in the future.
15.2 Whilst social workers will want to confirm that there is no possibility of retrieving the placement, the wishes and feelings of the prospective adopters must be taken seriously and respected. Although this will be a distressing time for all concerned, it is always better to end introductions and deal with the aftermath than to proceed to placement and risk an early disruption.


16. Other Sources of Helpful Guidance and Material for use in Preparing Children

  • Departmental resource pack “Preparing Children for Permanence”;
  • A Child’s Journey Through Placement - Vera Fahlberg (BAAF);
  • Linking and Introductions - Sheila Byrne (BAAF);
  • Ten Top Tips for Making Introductions - Lindsey Dunbar (BAAF, 2009.

End