South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures
South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures

5.2.6 Adoption Reviews

SCOPE OF CHAPTER

This chapter applies to the reviews where the adoption agency has authority to place a child for adoption either through a Placement Order or Parental Consent to Adoptive Placement. It sets out the different timescales that apply depending on whether or not the child has been placed for adoption by the adoption agency.

RELATED CHAPTERS

Appointment and Role of Independent Reviewing Officers Procedure

For reviews in relation to children from overseas placed with Inter Country Adopters, see Inter Country Adoption Procedure.

For reviews of prospective adopters approval, see Assessment and Approval of Prospective Adopters Procedure and Inter Country Adoption Procedure.

For Disruption Meetings, after a Placement Breakdown, see Disruption of Adoptive Placements Procedure.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was reviewed and updated in November 2015 when a minor change to Section 5, The Conduct of Adoption Reviews (1.e) was made.


Contents

  1. Arrangements for Adoption Reviews  
  2. Convening and Chairing Adoption Reviews  
  3. Timescales for Adoption Reviews 
  4. Reports for Adoption Reviews 
  5. The Conduct of Adoption Reviews
  6. After an Adoption Order is made

    Appendix A: Parental Responsibility  


1. Arrangements for Adoption Reviews

Once an adoption agency has Authority to Place for Adoption, there is a requirement to review the child's case under the Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005. Until the child is placed for adoption, this runs alongside the requirement to hold a Looked After Review in relation to the child - see Looked After Review Procedure.

The child's social worker should provide written information about the intended arrangements for Adoption Reviews, to the child (depending on age and understanding), to the prospective adopters (usually this will be part of the Adoption Placement Plan), and to any other person considered relevant, such as the child's parents.


2. Convening and Chairing Adoption Reviews

So far as reasonably practicable, all Adoption Reviews will be chaired by the child's Independent Reviewing Officer.

The child's social worker, in conjunction with the Independent Reviewing Officer, will invite relevant persons to Adoption Reviews.

There is no requirement to invite birth parents to Adoption Reviews or to consult them prior to a Review, but the child's social worker, in conjunction with the Independent Reviewing Officer, may consider that their views should be ascertained and reported to an Adoption Review or that the parents should be invited in appropriate cases.


3. Timescales for Adoption Reviews

The timescales for holding Adoption Reviews will depend on whether the child has been placed for adoption.

3.1 Adoption Reviews of children not yet placed for adoption

Where the child has not been placed for adoption, arrangements must be made so that an Adoption Review is held:

  • No later than 3 months after authority from the ADM to place the child for adoption has been obtained;
  • At least every 6 months thereafter until an adoptive placement is made.

3.2 Adoption Reviews of children who have been placed for adoption

Where the child has been placed for adoption, arrangements must be made so that an Adoption Review is held:

  • Within 4 weeks of the placement;
  • Not more than 3 months after the first review unless an application for an adoption order has been made;
  • At least every 6 months thereafter until an adoption order has been made or the adoptive placement ends.

Where there are concerns that the placement is at risk of breaking down, an Adoption Review must be convened immediately. Where a placement breaks down, see Disruption of Adoptive Placements Procedure.

Where a placement has been made with parental consent and notice is received that such consent has been withdrawn, a Review must be convened immediately and urgent legal advice should be taken as to whether there are grounds for an application for an Emergency Protection Order/Interim Care Order (if no Care Order exists) and/or a Placement Order.

Unless there are exceptional circumstances, for example child protection concerns and/or significant risk, no decision to move a child from a placement shall take place without a formal review having taken place.  In such circumstances, legal advice should be sought as soon as possible and prior to any action being taken. 

3.3 All Cases

The child's social worker must inform the Independent Reviewing Officer of any failure to make arrangements agreed at a review or any significant changes in the child's circumstances at a review, so that a decision can be made as to the need to convene a further Review  - see Appointment and Role of Independent Reviewing Officer Procedure.


4. Reports for Adoption Reviews 

The child's social worker will prepare a report for the Adoption Review, incorporating the views of the child, the prospective adopters and the prospective adopters' link worker (where the child is placed), the birth parents or family members (in appropriate cases) and any other relevant person (for example health visitor or teacher), which should be circulated prior to the meeting.


5. The Conduct of Adoption Reviews

  1. The Adoption Review will consider the following areas:
    1. Whether it remains satisfied that the child should be placed for adoption;
    2. The child's needs, welfare and development, and whether any changes need to be made to meet the child's needs or assist his/her development;
    3. Review the existing arrangements for contact with foster carers and whether they should continue or be altered;
    4. Review post adoption contact planning according to the Adoption Support Plan;
    5. Where the child has been placed for adoption, the arrangements in relation to the exercise of parental responsibility for the child and whether they should continue or be altered;
    6. The arrangements for the provision of adoption support services for the adoptive family and whether there should be any re-assessment of the need for those services;
    7. In consultation with the appropriate agencies, the arrangements for assessing and meeting the child's health care and educational needs;
    8. Any concerns;
    9. Outstanding Court proceedings;
    10. Where the child is placed for adoption, the timing of the adoption application;
    11. The timing of the ‘Life story book - needs to be with the adopters in draft by the latest second adoption review: acknowledge its on schedule;
    12. The timing of the ‘Later Life Letter’ from the social worker being given to the child (this will usually be within 10 working days of the adoption ceremony, i.e. the ceremony to celebrate the making of the adoption order);
    13. The responsibility for providing Court reports;
    14. The frequency of future reviews and the date for the next Review.
  2. Where the child is the subject of a Placement Order and has not been placed for adoption by the time of the first six month Review, the Review must also:
    1. Clarify that the case is being monitored by the permanence panel;
    2. Establish why the child has not been placed for adoption and consider what further steps it should take to arrange for the child to be placed for adoption; and
    3. Consider whether it remains satisfied that the child should be placed for adoption.
  3. The Independent Reviewing Officer must ensure that the views of the child are properly understood by the Review and taken into account. 

    Where the child wishes to take proceedings on their own account, for example to apply for the revocation of a Placement Order, the Independent Reviewing Officer must assist the child to obtain legal advice or  establish whether an appropriate adult is able and willing to provide legal advice and/or bring the proceedings on the child's behalf.

    The IRO should advise the child about his or her right to appoint an advocate where they have problems or concerns;
  4. The Independent Reviewing Officer must also ensure that anyone responsible for implementing a decision taken at the review is identified, and that any failure to review the case or implement decisions made at a Review  is brought to the attention of senior managers within the agency;
  5. Any decisions made at the Review should be notified in writing to the child (depending on age and understanding), the prospective adopters (where the child has been placed for adoption) and any other person considered relevant by the child's social worker and the Independent Reviewing Officer, such as the birth parents;
  6. The information obtained during an Adoption Review, any decisions made at the Review and the minutes of any meeting arranged to consider any aspect of the Adoption Review must be placed on the child's Adoption Case Record;
  7. Where an agency decision has been made to place a child for adoption but the child has not been placed within 6 months, the child's social worker must present a further report to the Permanence Panel identifying the length of the delay, the reasons and the steps being taken to address any difficulties, including consideration of a review of the adoption plan and/or a possible change to long- term fostering/separation of siblings.

Parental Responsibility

From the point at which the agency has authority to place the child for adoption Parental Responsibility is shared between the agency and the child’s parents. See Appendix A: Parental Responsibility. Once the adoption agency has authority to place a child for adoption, either with consent or with a Placement Order, it should be made clear to all parties which areas of parental responsibility they can exercise. Birth parents should be informed in writing of how they may exercise their restricted parental responsibility until the child is placed for adoption.

The restrictions placed on the parents parental responsibility should be considered at every review, whether the child the child has been placed for adoption or not. All decisions about how parental responsibility is shared must be conveyed to the parents in writing with an explanation of the decision.

For any child subject to a placement order but not yet placed for adoption, at the time of the 6 month review, the meeting should consider:

  • Why the child has not been placed for adoption and what further steps the agency should take to arrange for the child to be placed for adoption; and
  • Whether the agency remains satisfied that the child should be placed for adoption.

Any decision taken as a result of a review must be notified to:

  • The child;
  • The prospective adopter (if any);
  • Any other person the agency considers relevant.

Application of Adoption Order

The timing of an application for an Adoption Order should be considered at each review and agreement reached. The adoption social worker should not allow themselves to be party to decision making, tacitly or openly, which has not been through a formal decision making process or forum, for example in relation to the decision that the time is right for the Local Authority to support the prospective adopters in making an adoption application.

The child must have lived with the prospective adopters (or if they are a couple, with at least one of them) at all times during the 10 weeks preceding their making an application to adopt.

All members of the adoptive family should be consulted individually on the impact of the placement on them before an application is made.

As soon as a Childs Looked After Review has endorsed that the time is right for the prospective adopters to submit their application to Court, the child’s social worker should ensure that the child’s Health Assessments are up to date. These will be relied on by the adoption Medical Adviser in completing the SS431 (a) medical report for submission with the Annex A: Court report, see Court Reports in Adoption/Special Guardianship Guidance, Adoption Applications - Annex A Report - Matters to be Dealt with in Reports for the Court.

The child’s social worker should update the Adoption Support Plan which should be re-signed and a copy sent to the Adoption Team Manager who acts as Adoption Support Services Adviser.

The IRO should check the Life Story (see Life Story Books) and Later Life Letter have been completed and passed to prospective adopters. Also that the Letterbox Contract or other Contact Agreement is in place and the Adoption Support Plan has been updated, and that any changes have been notified to the prospective adopters. The IRO should advise the child about his or her right to appoint an advocate where they have problems or concern.

The Adoption social worker will advise the prospective adopters how to obtain and complete their application to Court. When they make their application, the prospective adopters will normally wish to apply for a serial number so that their names will not be linked to the application.

Any fee required by the Court for the lodging of an adoption application will be met by the Local Authority. If there will be a need for the prospective adopters to be legally represented, refer to Adoption Support Policy (payment of legal costs).

The child’s social worker is responsible for completing the Annex A Court report in conjunction with the adopters social worker.

The child’s social worker will complete:

  • Section A: the report and matters for the proceedings;
  • Section B: The Child and the Birth Family;
  • Section D: The Placement;
  • Section E: Recommendations.

The prospective adopters social worker will complete:

  • Section C: The prospective adopter of the child;
  • (Section F: Further information is unlikely to be required.)

The social workers should consult each other as necessary on sections of the report and child’s social worker and both social workers should keep a copy of the full completed report on file.

The social worker should request the adoption medical adviser to complete SS431 (a) medical information for the Court report.


6. After an Adoption Order is made

Once an Adoption Order is made, the child's social worker should complete the Adoption Case Record and ensure that the necessary work has been undertaken to complete the adoption process. The Adoption Case Record should then be closed and sent to the adoption service for safe storage within 2 months of the Adoption Order being granted.

The computer recording system should also record the Adoption Order.


Appendix A: Parental Responsibility

From the point at which the agency is authorised to place the child for adoption by either parental consent or a Placement Order, Section 25 of the Act dictates that Parental Responsibility (PR) is shared between the Local Authority and the child’s parents, to the extent decided by the agency.

In reaching that decision, they will take account of the views of:

  • The child;
  • The parent or guardian (where practicable);
  • Anyone else they consider relevant.

When the child is placed for adoption the Local Authority also shares PR with the prospective adopters.

In compiling an adoption Placement Plan the Local Authority will set out the extent of the PR for the child that the prospective adopters will have when the child is placed. In reaching that decision, they will take account of the views of:

  • The child;
  • Prospective adopters;
  • Anyone else they consider relevant.

Keys elements of Parental Responsibility (i.e. the various powers and duties of parents) which should be considered include:

  • Providing a home for the child;
  • Having contact with the child;
  • Protecting and maintaining the child;
  • Disciplining the child;
  • Determining and providing for the child’s education;
  • Determining the religion of the child;
  • Consenting to the child’s medical treatment;
  • Naming the child or agreeing to the child’s change of name.

Other aspects of PR for consideration at the point of placement and at subsequent reviews include:

  • Attendance at meetings and involvement in decisions about the child’s special needs education;
  • Attendance at meetings and involvement in decisions about the child’s CAMHS therapy or other therapy;
  • Holidays and trips overseas;
  • Choice of school;
  • Other issues the agency considers appropriate.

End