Fostering for Adoption, Concurrent Planning and Temporary Approval as Foster Carers of Approved Prospective Adopters
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter seeks to deal with the placement of a child with carers who are dually approved, i.e. approved both as prospective adopters and as local authority foster carers and the understanding of concurrent planning for early placement of children within legal proceedings.
The Children and Families Act 2014 imposes a duty upon all local authorities to consider a placement with dually approved carers whenever it is considering adoption or where the decision has been made that the child ought to be placed for adoption.
This chapter was introduced into the manual in November 2016.
1. Fostering for Adoption: Placing a Child with Dually Approved Foster Carers and Adopters
Moving very young children from their foster carers to their adoptive families can be distressing for the child. It interrupts a very important relationship for the child and may impact the child's security, trust, and development, until the attachment with the adoptive family is established. Dually approving a carer as both the foster carer for the child and as an adopter means that when the child becomes subject to a placement order (or with parental consent) the child is already well established with the family that will go on to become their adoptive family. This can only happen, however, when the Agency Decision Maker for Merton, the Service Director, agrees that the child should be placed for adoption. See Placement for Adoption Procedure.
The Children and Families Act 2014 has imposed the duty on the local authority to carefully consider placement with dually approved carers whenever it is exploring the possibility that the child ought to be placed for adoption, even when it does not yet have a Placement Order or parental consent. Merton is legally obliged to consider if there is a relative, friend, or Connected Person who is also a local authority foster carer who might appropriately care for the child, and if not, then to consider placement with a dually approved carer. It should not consider this arrangement for a child accommodated under Section 20 and where there is a reasonable possibility of the child returning home. The dually approved carer can be approved for any child or for a named child.
Dual approval does not imply from the outset that the child will be adopted, because plans change according to circumstances, and the child might ultimately return home or have an alternative permanence arrangement, for example, a Special Guardianship. See Special Guardianship Orders Procedure. This means that carers who are dually approved for fostering and for adoption must fully understand the role that they have in respect of the child and be prepared to assist the child to transition to another permanence outcome, if this becomes the plan. When the local authority is considering the adoption of a child at the early outset, it is required to notify in writing the child, (if age appropriate), the birth parents, (including fathers and legal guardians with Parental Responsibility) and the prospective adopters. If the child is accommodated under section 20, the parent(s) must be reminded of their right to withdraw consent at any time. See Care Planning for Looked After Children Procedure.
2. Concurrent Planning
Concurrent planning means that the child is placed with dually approved foster carers but with a very clear and comprehensive plan for the child's return home to its parent(s). This requires the foster carer to facilitate contact between the child and its parent(s) and for the foster carer to build a supportive relationship with the parent(s). The benefit of concurrent planning is that if the plan for return home is unsuccessful, the foster carers can go on to adopt the child once the placement order is made following the ADM decision.
3. Temporary Approval as Foster Carers of Approved Prospective Adopters
The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations, 2010,amended by The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review and Fostering Services (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2013, allows for the temporary approval as foster carers of persons who are already approved prospective adopters, or to be approved at the same time as both a prospective adopter and a temporary foster carer. The temporary approval can only be for a named child and it expires when the prospective adopter is approved as a foster carer or the child is placed for adoption with the carer. It can also expire if the approval of the prospective adopter is terminated, or the placement is terminated, or the prospective adopter gives 28 days notice in writing that they no longer wish to be temporarily approved as foster carers for the child.