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7.8 Adoption and Permanence Panel

AMENDMENT

In July 2016 minor revisions were made to this chapter in the interests of clarity.


Contents

  1. Functions of the Adoption Panel
  2. Panel Composition
  3. Appointments to the Central List
  4. Confidentiality
  5. General Conduct
  6. Member Attendance
  7. Panel Adviser
  8. Other Specialist Advice
  9. Reports to Panel
  10. Adoption Panel Meetings
  11. Adoption Panel Minutes
  12. Reports to Adoption Panel
  13. Agency Decision Maker
  14. Agency Decision in Respect of Children
  15. Agency Decision in Respect of Applicants
  16. Agency Decision in Respect of Placements
  17. Further Reports to the Adoption and Permanence Panel
  18. Attendance at Panel
  19. Ongoing Financial Support (Adoption Allowance)
  20. Panel Records
  21. Presenting a Case to Panel


1. Functions of the Adoption Panel

The panel is known as the Medway Adoption and Permanence Panel

The Panel is independent of Medway and has a responsibility to promote good practice, consistency of approach and fairness in all aspects of the adoption service. It receives annual reports on the adoption service and its performance.

The Adoption Panel contributes to the running and quality assurance of the local authority's adoption service and receives annual reports on the service and its performance.

In doing so it has an overriding responsibility to promote good practice, consistency of approach and fairness in all aspects of the adoption service, in accordance with its procedures and values

As part of its function the Panel makes recommendations as to the following:

  1. The suitability of prospective adoptive applicants to adopt;
  2. Whether a child should be placed for adoption and whether application for a Placement Order is appropriate, some cases – see below;
  3. Whether a particular child should be placed for adoption with particular prospective adopters.

The recommendations must be unconditional and cannot be 'in principle'.

As from 1 September 2012, not all cases must be referred to the Adoption Panel. Cases where the criteria apply for the local authority to apply for a Placement Order, i.e. the child is the subject of a Care Order or the Threshold Criteria for a Care Order are satisfied or where there is no parent or guardian, will not be referred to the Adoption Panel for a recommendation, but will be referred directly to the Agency Decision Maker for a decision. All other cases (i.e. where the parents have given consent and there is no application for a Placement Order) will continue to be referred to the Adoption Panel for a recommendation, which the Agency Decision Maker will take into account when making a decision.

Timescales

The adoption agency must decide whether the prospective adopter is suitable to adopt a child within four months of the date on which the agency received the prospective adopter’s notification that they wished to proceed with the assessment process.

Where cases are referred to the Adoption and Permanence Panel for a recommendation, the Panel may also advise on the following issues:

  • Where applicants are recommended as suitable to adopt, the number of children which they may be suitable to adopt, as well as their age range, gender likely needs and background and, in the case of inter country adopters, the country from which they are suitable to adopt;
  • Where it is recommended that a child should be placed for adoption, what the contact arrangements should be and whether a Placement Order should be applied for;
  • Where it is recommended that a child should be placed with particular prospective adopters, the proposed adoption support including adoption allowance, future contact arrangements and whether/how the exercise of Parental Responsibility by birth parents and/or prospective adopters should be restricted.

Note that in cases which are referred directly to the Agency Decision Maker for a decision, he/she is expressly prohibited from referring a case to the Adoption and Permanence Panel for advice.

In addition the panel makes recommendations as to:

  • Whether permanence is in the best interest of a particular child;
  • Whether particular approved permanent foster carers are suitable for a particular child.

The Panel monitors the progress of individual children for whom adoption is the plan up to the making of an Adoption Order, through progress reports and receives disruption reports in relation to any breakdowns in adoptive placements. It also monitors the progress of approved adopters in terms of their consideration for linking to children.


2. Panel Composition

There is no fixed Panel membership or maximum number of members or maximum tenure of office.

A Central List needs to be maintained containing a list of persons considered to be suitable to be members of an Adoption Panel. This List must be maintained by an appointed senior social worker with at least 5 years’ relevant post-qualification experience and relevant management experience. When setting up an Adoption Panel, members will be drawn from this Central List. The same people do not have to be appointed to every Panel meeting.

The Central List should include (in addition to the Independent Chair):

  • Adoption social workers with at least 3 years' relevant post qualifying experience in child care social work, including direct experience in adoption work (not necessarily employed by the agency);
  • The Medical Adviser/s;
  • Other persons whom the agency considers suitable including specialists in education; race and culture; child and adolescent mental health services; and those with personal experience of adoption.

The Chair (Independent Person) must be independent of the adoption agency, and is appointed by the Designated Manager (Adoption Panel Appointments).

The Panel must also have one, and can have two, Vice Chairs (who are not necessarily independent members), who are also appointed by the Designated Manager (Adoption Panel Appointments).

The Agency Decision Maker on adoption matters must not be included on the Central List.

The agency should decide how many people should sit at each Adoption Panel meeting, provided that there is a quorum of 5 or 6 if a joint panel, one of whom must be the Chair or Vice Chair, one of the adoption social worker representatives and at least one independent member.

Where the Adoption Panel is also a Permanence Panel and consider fostering issues it must also be constituted to meet the requirements of the Fostering Service Regulations and have as a member a person who is, or has in the past two years, been a foster carer for another foster care agency.


3. Appointments to the Central List

Those on the Central List are appointed by the Designated Manager (Adoption Panel Appointments) and will able to continue their membership as long as they are able to carry out their duties.

All those on the Central List should have undergone a recruitment process that includes interviews, identity checks, verification of qualifications and right to work in the UK, references and DBS checks, which are recorded.

New appointees will be asked to give signed agreement to checks being undertaken as above and cannot take up their appointment until the outcome of the checks are known. They are excluded from Panel membership if they have any offences against children or of violence. They are required to notify the Panel Adviser immediately if they receive such a conviction or caution while on the Central List.

They should have the opportunity to observe an Adoption Panel meeting before they sit as a member and to attend an annual joint training day with adoption agency staff; have induction training completed within 10 weeks of inclusion on the list and access to appropriate training and skills development and are kept abreast of changes to legislation, regulation and guidance.

They should also have access to the agency's whistle-blowing policy.

Written information about the expectations arising from their appointment should be given to new appointees to the Central List (in relation to their performance objectives, participation in induction and other training, safeguarding the confidentiality of information provided to the Panel and their general conduct - see Section 4, Confidentiality and Section 5, General Conduct and they should be asked to sign a written agreement confirming their acceptance of these before taking up their appointment.


4. Confidentiality

All written and verbal information given to Panel members in the course of their duties is strictly confidential. As indicated above, those included on the Central List are required to sign a written agreement, before their appointment, to confirm that all information they receive will remain confidential.

Panel members are expected to keep all written information in a secure place and return all Panel documents to the agency immediately after each Panel meeting.

Panel members must not copy, in part or in whole, any documents that relate to a case.

If a Panel member has some knowledge of a case, whether in a personal or professional capacity, they should declare an interest and inform the Chair of the Panel at the earliest opportunity, so that an alternative member can be invited if required to ensure that the Panel is quorate (see Conflicts of Interest).

Failure to comply with the above paragraphs may result in the member's inclusion on the Central List being terminated.


5. General Conduct

All those on the Central List should be committed to anti-discriminatory practice and should be prepared to consider each case on its own merits.

Panel members should have read the Panel papers carefully, prior to the Panel meeting, and come prepared to contribute to the Panel discussion.

The Panel Adviser will review the performance of those on the Central List on a regular basis.

The Panel Adviser, in consultation with the Chair, will review their performance on a more formal basis at least annually.

If there are concerns about the conduct or behaviour of a person on the Central List, these should be conveyed to the Chair who should raise these concerns with the member in private.

If concerns about a Panel member's conduct or behaviour cannot be resolved informally, the Chair, in consultation with the Agency Decision Maker will write to the member concerned setting out the concerns and what action it is proposed to take (see Termination of Appointment to the Central List).

The Chair's performance should be appraised annually by the Agency Decision Maker, taking into account the views of Panel members and those who attend Panel meetings, namely persons on the Central List, social workers and prospective adopters.

Conflicts of Interest

Panel members should consider any conflicts of interest in relation to Panel agenda items. A potential conflict arises if an interest may be seen to adversely affect a Panel member's capacity to act without prejudice or preference in a matter.

It is anticipated that in many circumstances there may be professional knowledge of a case which should be notified to the Chair but which will not affect a member's capacity to participate in the Panel. In other circumstances there may be a personal interest or connection which would require the Panel member to refrain from participation. It may be less clear in some cases when advice should be sought.

In the case of a potential conflict of interest where advice is required, Panel members should consult the Chair, Panel Adviser or Legal Adviser, giving as much advance notice as possible particularly having regard to the implications for the quorum.

Resignations from the Central List

All those on the Central List are expected to give a minimum of one month's written notice of their wish to resign, except where personal emergencies e.g. accidents, illness, make this impossible. Resignation letters should be addressed to the Designated Manager (Adoption Panel Appointments), with a copy to the Chair of the Panel.

Initial verbal resignations may be given, but should always be followed by a written resignation. Those on the Central List are asked, as a matter of courtesy, to inform the Chair of the Panel of their intention to resign, before making any public announcement.

Those on the Central List wishing to withdraw a submitted written resignation must do so before the one month notice period expires by writing to the Designated Manager (Adoption Panel Appointments), who reserves the right not to accept a withdrawal of notice and to allow the original letter of resignation to stand.

Termination of Appointment to the Central List

Where it is considered that someone is unsuitable to be on the Central List, they must be given one month's notice in writing and reasons for the decision to end their appointment.

Where there are concerns about the behaviour of a person on the Central List either inside or outside the meetings, and the difficulties have not been resolved by discussion and correspondence between the Chair, Panel Adviser and the person concerned, the matter will be raised by the Panel Adviser with the Designated Manager (Adoption Panel Appointments), who will decide whether to propose the end of the appointment and if so, will advise the person concerned in writing giving clear reasons for the proposal.

The person concerned will be given the opportunity to make observations on the matter before a final decision is made by the Designated Manager (Adoption Panel Appointments).


6. Member Attendance

Appointed Panel Members are expected to make every effort to attend Panel meetings. If unable to attend, they should inform the Panel Administrator as soon as possible, to ensure the Panel is quorate.

Failure to attend three consecutive Panel meetings or less than 75% of Panel meetings in one year, for other than medical reasons, may result in the member's appointment being withdrawn.


7. Panel Adviser

The agency should appoint as Panel Advisor a senior member of social work staff with at least five years post qualification experience and management experience in adoption and family placement. (In Medway, the Panel adviser undertakes the responsibilities of the Agency Adviser as set out in the Adoption Guidance.) The Adviser is not a Panel member and cannot take part in the decision-making process.

The panel adviser should:

  • Act as the link between Panel and Agency;
  • Assist in making and terminating appointments to the panel;
  • Arrange the induction and training of panel members;
  • Monitor panel member performance and the general functioning of panel;
  • Undertake a quality assurance role on the agency’s reports, to both the Panel and to the Agency Decision Maker, and liaise with team managers to quality assure the Child's Permanence Report, the Prospective Adopter's Report and the Adoption Placement Report. Where there are concerns about a report to the Panel, the Panel Adviser and the Panel chair should consider whether it is adequate for submission to the Panel. It will be for the Panel Adviser alone to decide whether a report is adequate for submission to the Agency Decision Maker;
  • Contribute to Panel meetings by raising issues and providing advice, for example about the agency’s procedures and practices;
  • Provide advice, both specific and general;
  • Update the Panel on the general progress of cases it has considered. This is particularly important where the Panel’s recommendation or advice was not accepted.

Where the agency is considering inter-country adoption applications it should have access to advice from someone experienced in this field.

The Panel Adviser may on request provide advice to the Agency Decision Maker when s/he is considering a particular case.


8. Other Specialist Advice

Panel is expected to have legal advice on all items being brought but the Legal Adviser is not required to be a panel member. If Inter-Country applications are being considered there should be access to specialist advice including specialist medical advice in this area. Educational advice is clearly very useful to panel given what is known about the educational difficulties Looked After Children are likely to have.

Guardians for the child may be invited to attend panel in accordance with Medway's policy on their attendance and involvement in panel proceedings.


9. Reports to Panel

The following reports are presented to panel:

  • The Child's Permanence Report (the old Form E);
  • The Prospective Adopters Report (the old Form F);
  • The Adoption Placement Report;
  • The Adoption Support Plan;
  • Expert/specialist reports as required.


10. Adoption Panel Meetings

The Adoption Panel should meet at least one day every month. The Panel Adviser will ask the Panel Administrator to arrange additional special meetings at short notice as necessary, with the Chair's authority, where for example there is a need to consider an urgent placement and/or the Court timetable requires it.

The Panel Administrator will prepare and circulate an annual list of Adoption Panel dates and deadlines in advance of the designated start of the Panel's year.

The Panel Adviser, who must be a senior practitioner or manager in the adoption service with at least 5 years' relevant post-qualification and management experience, attends all Panel meetings to advise the Panel but is not a member of the Panel. His or her role is to ensure all the necessary reports are available for the Panel, to advise the Panel on social work and procedural matters and to report to social workers and their managers on issues arising from Panel meetings.

Where the Panel is considering a matter relating to an inter country adoption, the Panel Adviser must arrange to provide specialist advice and any relevant information required.

The Panel Adviser's role is also to assist with appointments to the Central List, to arrange induction and other training for those on the Central List, monitor and review their performance and monitor and review the administration of the Panel.

The Panel Administrator, in consultation with the Panel Adviser, will prepare the agenda for each meeting and draw members from the Central List. The agenda and Panel papers for each meeting should be sent to Panel members at least five working days before the meeting.

The Panel's legal adviser attends all Panel meetings, but is not a Panel member.

The agenda will include at the beginning an opportunity for any Panel member to declare an interest in any item on the agenda (see Conflicts of Interest above). If an interest is declared, the Chair must then decide whether the Panel member should withdraw during consideration of the item.

In the event of a disagreement between Panel members, the Chair will consider whether further information is required or whether the Panel should go ahead and make a recommendation on the basis of the majority view. In this event, any dissenting view should be fully recorded in the minutes.

Social workers presenting reports to the Panel must send their report and any supporting documentation required (as specified in the relevant procedures elsewhere in the Manual; see Placement of Children for Adoption Procedure and Assessment and Approval of Prospective Adopters Procedure) to the Panel Administrator at least 10 working days before the date of the Panel meeting.

At the end of each Panel meeting, the Panel Administrator will collect all members' papers. Panel members unable to attend a meeting will be asked to return his or her papers to the Panel administrator.


11. Adoption Panel Minutes

The Panel minutes will always record the information in relation to the following:

  1. The reports received. (The Panel's requirements as to reports are specified in the relevant procedures elsewhere in the Manual; see Placement of Children for Adoption Procedure and Assessment and Approval of Prospective Adopters Procedure);
  2. Who attended and for which part of the discussion;
  3. Medical advice;
  4. Legal advice;
  5. The Panel's discussions (main points) and conclusions;
  6. The Panel's recommendations and reasons, including any reservations expressed by any member;
  7. Any advice given by the Panel.

The Panel minutes will be written in accordance with the format agreed from time to time and kept on every child's or prospective adopter's Adoption Case Record.

The Panel Chair is responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the Panel’s recommendations, reasons and, following agreement with Panel members, the minutes. The Chair must also make sure that a person who is not a member of the Panel fulfils the task of writing these documents.

The minutes must accurately reflect the discussion and cover the key issues, rather than be a verbatim record of the meeting. Where Panel members have serious reservations, the Panel Chair must ensure these are recorded in the minutes and are attached to the Panel’s recommendation. If the Panel cannot reach a consensus on its recommendation after the Chair and other members of the Panel have voted, the Panel Chair has a second vote, i.e. the casting vote. The Panel’s minutes should clearly set out the reasons why the Panel Chair had to use the casting vote.

The Panel minutes must be produced promptly and agreed by the Panel members before being approved by the Chair and sent to the Agency Decision Maker, together with the reports considered by the Panel when the recommendation was made, so that the Agency Decision Maker can meet the timescales for making the decision as set out in the relevant procedures – usually the timescale is within 7 working days of receipt.

Arrangements should be made by the Agency Adviser to the Panel for the safekeeping of the minutes and the record. Panel minutes, like other parts of Adoption Case Records, are exempt from the subject access provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 (i.e. the person to whom they relate does not have a statutory right of access to the information they contain – see Access to Adoption Case Records Procedure.


12. Reports to Adoption Panel

Reports to the Adoption Panel in relation to matters upon which the Panel are asked to make recommendations must be prepared by qualified social workers with at least three years post-qualification experience. This must include direct experience of adoption work either in assessing prospective adoptive parents or implementing an adoption plan for a Looked After child. Where the author of the report does not have the requisite qualifications and experience, he or she must have either a qualification in social work or be a social worker in training, and supervised by a qualified social worker with three years' relevant experience.

Where the person preparing the report is an independent social worker, they must always be suitably qualified and experienced and supervised by a member of staff with the suitable qualifications and experience.

The same qualifications and experience are required for social workers undertaking visits of children placed for adoption.


13. Agency Decision Maker

The Agency Decision Maker considers recommendations from the Adoption Panel and, in those circumstances outlined in Section 1, Functions of the Adoption Panel, also makes decisions about whether a child is suitable to be placed for adoption without reference to the Adoption Panel. The following principles apply to all such decisions.

In reaching his/her decision, the Agency Decision Maker must consider:

  • The welfare checklist in Section 1 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002*;
  • All the information surrounding the case including the reports submitted to the Adoption Panel (where applicable), and that the authors of the reports are appropriately qualified to prepare them (see Section 12, Reports to Adoption Panel);
  • The stability and permanence of the relationship of any couple under consideration;
  • The recommendation and reasons of the Adoption Panel and any Independent Review Panel under the Independent Review Mechanism; and
  • The final minutes of the Adoption Panel including any minutes from adjourned Panel meetings and the Independent Review Panel;
    1. *The child's ascertainable wishes and feelings regarding the decision (considered in the light of the child's age and understanding);
    2. The child's particular needs;
    3. The likely effect on the child (throughout his life) of having ceased to be a member of the original family and become an adopted person;
    4. The child's age, sex, background and any of the child's characteristics which the court or agency considers relevant;
    5. Any harm (within the meaning of the Children Act 1989 (c. 41)) which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
    6. The relationship which the child has with relatives, and with any other person in relation to whom the court or agency considers the relationship to be relevant, including:
      1. The likelihood of any such relationship continuing and the value to the child of its doing so;
      2. The ability and willingness of any of the child's relatives, or of any such person, to provide the child with a secure environment in which the child can develop, and otherwise to meet the child's needs;
      3. The wishes and feelings of any of the child's relatives, or of any such person, regarding the child.

It is good practice for the Agency Decision Maker:

  • To list the material taken into account in reaching the decision;
  • To identify key arguments;
  • To state whether they agree with the process and approach of the relevant Panel(s) and are satisfied as to its fairness and that the Panel(s) has/have properly addressed the arguments;
  • To consider whether any additional information now available to them that was not before the Panel has an impact on its reasons or recommendation;
  • To identify the reasons given for the relevant recommendation that they do or do not wish to adopt; and
  • To state (a) the adopted reasons by cross-reference or otherwise and (b) any further reasons for their decision.


14. Agency Decision in Respect of Children

The Agency decision that a child should be placed for adoption should be made within seven working days of receipt of the final Panel minutes and reports.

The parents will be informed orally of the agency’s decision within two working days and written confirmation should be sent to them within five working days. These arrangements will be made by the Agency Decision Maker in conjunction with the child’s social worker.

When the Agency decision has been made that the child should be placed for adoption and a placement order is appropriate, it must notify in writing:

  • The child if they are of a suitable age and level of understanding;
  • The legal parents or guardians;
  • The father of the child who does not have parental responsibility if this is considered to be in the best interest of the child.

If the whereabouts of any party is unknown, all reasonable steps must be taken to trace and notify them. A record must be kept of all steps taken. The Agency Decision-maker signs the letters which are then forwarded to the social worker by the adoption administration staff. There may be occasions when the social worker prefers to deliver the letter in person.

In cases where the case has been presented to the Adoption Panel and the decision is different from the Panel's recommendation, a copy of the Panel minute should also be sent to the parents.


15. Agency Decision in Respect of Applicants

Applicants will be informed verbally of the Panel's recommendation. If they have not attended their worker will contact them later in the day.

If the Agency decides to approve the prospective adopters as suitable to adopt a child, they must be notified in writing.

If the Agency considers that the prospective adopter is not suitable, it must inform the prospective adopter that it is proposed not to approve them as suitable to be an adoptive parent and include the reasons. The recommendations of the Panel should also be included. The prospective adopter should be invited to submit any representation that they wish to make within twenty-eight days, and be informed that the final decision will not be made until any representations have been considered. If representations are received within twenty-eight days, Panel will be asked to reconsider the case and the written representations. The Panel will make a fresh recommendation and the Agency will make the final decision, having taken into account the recommendation from the Panel. The applicants should be notified as soon as possible of the decision and given reasons for the Agency in writing and the recommendation from the Panel, if this is different from the Agency's decision

Alternatively the prospective adopters can ask for their assessment, or partial assessment if the matter has been brought at an early stage to panel, be considered by the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM). This is an independent panel constituted similarly to Medway's Adoption Panel. It will consider the assessment and any representations made by the prospective adopters and will make a recommendation to the agency. The Agency Decision Maker will then make a decision taking this recommendation into account. This decision is final. Again reasons should be given.


16. Agency Decision in Respect of Placements

No placement can be made before the Agency decision has been taken and there is authority to place the child in the form of a Placement Order or formal consent by anyone with parental responsibility witnessed by CAFCASS.

The Agency decision should be made within seven working days of the Adoption and Permanence Panel recommendation, and the written confirmation of the decision should be made within a further seven working days.

When the Agency decision has been made that a particular approved adopter would be a suitable parent for a particular child, i.e. a match, the following people must be notified of the decisions in writing: - the child if they are of suitable age and level of understanding, and the legal parents or guardians unless they have made a formal declaration that they seek no further involvement. The father of the child who does not have parental responsibility should also be notified if this is considered to be in the best interests of the child. If the whereabouts of any party is unknown, all reasonable steps must be taken to trace and notify them. A record must be kept of all steps taken.

NB. The whereabouts of the child or the identity of prospective adopters must not be disclosed.

The prospective adopters should then be notified in writing.


17. Further Reports to the Adoption and Permanence Panel

Children with a plan for adoption - a short update on developments will be given to the Panel at six monthly intervals from the date the case is first heard until a match is agreed, or the plan for adoption is withdrawn at Panel. The Service Manager will monitor, collate and present updates to the Panel, ensuring that the child's CPR is updated. It is not necessary for the child's social worker to attend in person unless specifically requested to do so by the Panel Chairperson and/or the Service Manager. However, if the plan for adoption is to be withdrawn, this must be formally presented by the child's worker.

Children Subject to a Placement Order - the Adoption and Permanence Panel must be informed if a child is not placed within six months of a Placement Order being made.

Prospective Adopters - Following approval of prospective adopters, the case will be updated to the Adoption Manager at one yearly intervals. It is not necessary for the Adoption Social Worker to attend in person unless requested to do so by the Panel Chairperson and/or the Adoption Manager. Updates will include information on how many times the applicant(s) have been considered for a child since approval, and any changes in circumstances, or new information since the assessment was completed. The PAR should be updated if necessary. Approval will stand for a total of three years though it should be noted that DBS checks should be updated every three years.

Matches - Updates on matches, which have been agreed by Medway, will take place at six monthly intervals until the Adoption Order is granted. It is not necessary for the workers involved to attend unless specifically requested to do so as above. The adoption administration staff will notify workers when updates are due.

Updates on matches with Medway adopters will be presented at 6 monthly intervals by the Adoption Manager.

Statistics on children and prospective adopters -Three monthly reports will be presented to the Panel on numbers of waiting children and waiting families, by the Adoption Manager.

Disruptions - A report should be presented to the Panel of any match that has been agreed by the Agency that has failed. If introductions have started, or the child has been placed with the adopters, and the placement does not proceed, minutes of the disruption meeting held to consider the case must be put before the Panel, and the adoption workers should attend with the child's social worker.

Interim/Partial Reports and Matters of Principle - In some cases it may be necessary to consider situations or circumstances that do not comply with current policy, or what is currently considered to be best practice. Similarly there may be occasions where an early consideration of a particular aspect of a case is needed. In these situations an interim report may be presented to the Adoption and Permanence Panel with the agreement of the Adoption Manager and Panel Chairperson. Where such an interim report leads to a recommendation and decision not to approve applicants as suitable to adopt this is again known as a "Qualifying Determination" and it gives the prospective adopters access to the Independent Review Mechanism.


18. Attendance at Panel

Prospective adopters are invited to attend the Adoption and Permanence Panel and are given an explanatory leaflet as part of their preparation for this. They are not required to attend.


19. Ongoing Financial Support (Adoption Allowance)

Decisions in respect of ongoing financial support (Adoption Allowances)

The Agency will consider whether the child meets the criteria for payment of ongoing financial support following the recommendation being made by the Adoption and Permanence Panel that the child should be placed for adoption.

The Agency may agree to pay ongoing financial support only after having agreed the match, and after considering the recommendations of the Adoption and Permanence Panel that such adoption is not practicable without payment of an allowance.

The Adoption Support Regulations require one of the following circumstances to be met before ongoing financial support can be considered. All the criteria relate to the child, not to the adopters:

  • Where an Adoption Agency is satisfied that the child has established a strong and important relationship with the adopters before the Adoption Order is made (e.g. adoption application by the child's foster parents);
  • Where it is desirable that the child be placed with the same adopters as his brothers or sisters, or with a child with whom he has previously shared a home;
  • Where at the time of the placement for adoption, the child is mentally or physically disabled, or suffering from the effects of emotional or behavioural difficulties and needs special care which requires a greater expenditure of resources than would be required if the child were not so disabled, or suffering from the effects of emotional or behavioural difficulties;
  • Where at the time of placement for adoption the child was mentally or physically disabled, or suffering from the effects of emotional or behavioural difficulties and as a result, at a later date he requires more care and a greater expenditure of resources then were required at the time he was placed for adoption because there is a deterioration in the child's health or condition or, an increase in his age;
  • Where at the time of placement for adoption it was know that there was a high risk that the child would develop an illness or disability and as a result, at a later date he requires more care and a greater expenditure of resources than were required at the time he was place for adoption because such illness or disability occurs (e.g. genetic risk).

Having agreed that one of the above criteria is met for the child, the Agency must then agree that the adoption is not practicable without payment of the financial support. A thorough assessment of the prospective adopter's financial situation must be undertaken to be evidenced by bank, building society and where applicable, accountant's references.

Adopters who are financially capable of meeting the extra expenditure associated with a child's needs cannot receive an allowance regardless of the fact that the child may reach the criteria.

Disability Living Allowance and Child Benefit in respect of the child are disregarded in assessment of the adopter's income. The benefits adviser should be consulted where adopters are in receipt of Social Security payments.

Compensation awarded for the child by the CICB, should not normally be taken into account.

The amount payable should not exceed the amount of the fostering allowance, excluding the fee payable if the adopters fostered the child but equally there should be no financial disincentive to adoption preventing the child being adopted.

The Panel recommendation and Agency decision must be made before the Adoption Order is granted.

Adopters will be informed of the Agency decision in respect of the ongoing financial support and will be given twenty-eight days to make representations to the Adoption and Permanence Panel if they are not in agreement with the decision. The Agency decision-maker will reconsider the case having taken into account the recommendation of the Panel.

Further guidance on the circumstances in which an allowance may be paid can be found in the Children Act Guidance and Regulations Vol. 9.

Consideration of an adoption allowance should be an integral part of assessment of the child's needs and may need to be reviewed in the light of medical and psychological reports received.

Annual Review of Adoption Allowances, see below.


20. Panel Records

A register will be kept of all the Panel recommendations, which will be signed by the Chair of the Panel. The same register will include all the Agency decisions, and the Agency decision maker will sign these.

A separate register will be kept of the attendance of Panel members.

Minutes of the Panel discussion and outcome will be taken. These will specify the reasons for the Panel recommendations and will record whether the recommendation is unanimous. If there is dissent this should be recorded. The minutes will be formally ratified at the next meeting of the Panel. However, the Chairperson of the Panel can agree the minutes in advance of this if necessary. The draft minutes will be produced within four working days of the Panel having met for the:

  • The Decision Maker;
  • The Panel Chairperson (or vice Chair, if the Chairperson was not at the Panel meeting;
  • The Agency Medical Adviser;
  • The Agency Legal Adviser;
  • The Adoption Manager.

Once ratified, copies of the minutes for each case will be placed on the relevant case files and the adoption administration section will retain the signed copies.

Index cards will be kept on each case that has been presented to the Panel and updated as the case progresses. These will be kept in addition to the department's computer record and will facilitate the provision of a comprehensive adoption record.  

The original CPR and PAR will be retained by the adoption section for use in the selection of a suitable adoptive family where necessary. Once an adoption order has been granted the original Forms will be returned to the child's social worker to be put on the Child's adoption file prior to closure.


21. Presenting a Case to Panel

When a case is to be presented to Panel, the social worker for the child or the Adoption Social Worker for the applicants will book a Panel date and prepare the necessary reports, including up-to-date medical reports, giving at least two months notice to the medical adviser and the adoption section.

Medical reports must have been seen and commented on by the Panel medical adviser prior to the meeting of the Panel.

A pre panel discussion should be booked with the Adoption Manager at the earliest opportunity, if required.

When presenting of child for consideration as to whether the child should be placed for adoption the papers required are: CPR, Form IHA, Form PH, Foster Carer's annexe, plans for future contact.

At the same time panel will consider whether the criteria in respect of the child for payment of ongoing financial support are met. It will not be possible at this stage for the final decision to be made before prospective adopters are identified. The budget holder's signature to payment of financial support in principle should be obtained beforehand.

For presentation of prospective adopters the paperwork required is: PAR, AH1 Medical, views on contact, range of acceptance.

For presentation of a match: The PAR including updated medicals completed within the last six months on prospective adopters and current DBS checks, an updated CPR on each child with updated medical information and an Adoption Placement Report and Adoption Support Plan.

If the match is inter-agency and the adopter's medical is not more than two years old, the standard letter should be sent to the applicant's G.P. Medicals should be updated within the last year for children over two years of age and within six months for children under two years. Minutes of matching meeting and Panel minutes for adopters and child should be presented. Financial statement for prospective adopters if financial support is to be considered and budget holder's agreement to payment of this support.

Permanence cases - children: Panel will consider prospective carers and matches on submission of paperwork as above.

The papers must be submitted by the deadline. No reminders are sent.

Leave of the Court must be sought before any papers filed in care proceedings are disclosed to the Adoption and Permanence Panel or the Agency's medical adviser.

The worker for the child, and where possible, their supervisor and the adoption linkworker should attend the Panel when presenting a child.

The Adoption Social Worker should present the case for the adoptive applicants; the social worker for the child and the Adoption Social Worker and social worker for the child should present the case jointly for a match.

When the child is presented for a match, the budget holder's signature to payment of ongoing financial support should be sought first. Panel will then consider whether the adoption is practicable without payment of financial support, in view of the financial resources of the prospective adopters. Should the Panel, having discussed a case, feel financial support is appropriate but the budget holder is not in agreement, this should be indicated clearly to the Agency Decision Maker.

The social worker will be given the proposed date of the Agency decision at Panel, and should ring the adoption administration section on that date for confirmation of the decision, and to advise the administration clerk whether statutory decision letters may be sent directly to birth parents.

Introductions meetings and inter-agency agreements may not be entered into until the Agency decision in favour of the match is made.

Inter-agency placements for Medway children will be presented to the Medway Adoption and Permanence Panel.

End