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EalingChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Assessment and Approvals of Prospective Adopters

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure accords with the Government's Adoption Reform Programme, which includes a shorter two-stage assessment and approval process for prospective adopter/s with specified timescales. Prospective adopter/s will be able to access general information about adoption and the assessment process through the National Gateway for Adoption (First4Adoption) thereby being better informed before they approach their local Adoption Agency.

As part of the Government's Adoption Reform programme existing foster carers and some adopter/s could be assessed using a fast track process.

In addition, the Government is keen to promote earlier placements of children, for whom adoption is the plan, with prospective adopter/s by requiring assessing Social Workers to assess their suitability for 'Fostering for Adoption' (Regulation 25A Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010, which came into force on 1st July 2013). This enables a person who is an approved adopter/s to be temporarily approved as foster carers for a named child, without having to undergo the full assessment and approval process as required by under the Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011.

RELEVANT LEGISLATION AND GUIDANCE

The Adoption Agencies (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2013

The Adoption and Children Act 2002 Adoption Statutory Guidance

NOTE

All forms referred to in this chapter can be accessed from the Adoption team.

Contents

  1. Prospective Adopters - Eligibility Criteria: (The Adoption and Children Act 2002 Adoption Statutory Guidance)
  2. Timescales
  3. Compliance
  4. Initial Enquiry & Response
  5. Information Session
  6. Initial Home Visit 
  7. Information to be Provided about the Prospective Adopter/s for Stage 1 – AAR 26(a) ROI Form (Appendix E)
  8. Receipt of Registration of Interest Form
  9. Stage 1: The Pre-Assessment Process
  10. Stage 1: Agreement Plan (AAR 22) (Appendix I)
  11. DBS Check (AAR 25)
  12. Health (AAR 26)
  13. References (AAR 26) 
  14. Local Authority Checks (AAR 26e)
  15. Other Checks / References (Practice Guidance – Preparing and Assessing Prospective Adopters)
  16. Stage 1: Pre-Assessment Decision (AAR 27)
  17. Stage 2: The Assessment Process (AAR 28)
  18. Prospective Adopter/s (Stage 2) Assessment Agreement Plan (AAR 29)
  19. The Assessment 
  20. Fostering for Adoption – (Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review) 
  21. Second or Subsequent Adoption Applications and Applications from Foster Carers - Fast Track Approval Process
  22. Reports to the Adoption and Permanence Panel (AAR 30) 
  23. The Adoption and Permanence Panel (AAR 30A)
  24. Agency Decision (AAR 30B)
  25. Representations
  26. Agency Decision Following Representations or Review by Review Panel
  27. Post Approval 
  28. Review of Approval: AAR 30(d)

1. Prospective Adopters - Eligibility Criteria: (The Adoption and Children Act 2002 Adoption Statutory Guidance)

  1. Applicants must be at least 21 years old (there is no upper age limit);
  2. At least one of the couple or the single applicant must be domiciled in the British Isles or both of the couple or the single applicant have been habitually resident for at least one year;
  3. Neither applicant nor any adult member of their household can have been convicted or cautioned in respect of a specified offence.

Potential adopter/s cannot be discriminated against by virtue of their age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity or health.

2. Timescales

The Government wants to ensure that all aspects of the adopters' assessment process and the placement of children in adoptive placements are done in a timely manner. The following timescales need to be adhered to unless there are exceptional circumstances, where the assessing Social Worker and/or the potential/prospective adopter/s agree that a longer period is required. In such cases, this should be agreed with the Adoption Team Manager and the reasons and new time scales recorded on the adopter/s' case file. The following timescales need to be adhered to:

  1. Within 10 working days respond to requests for detailed information about adoption by potential adopter/s. This can be achieved either through a telephone discussion, an office appointment with the Adoption Team's Duty Social Worker or via the monthly information sessions;
  2. Within 5 working days from receipt of the completed Registration Of Interest (ROI) Form to adopt a child, the Adoption Team should decide whether or not the potential adopter/s may be suitable to adopt a child. The 5 working days period may be extended in exceptional circumstances which mean that longer time is needed;
  3. Within 8 weeks from the decision to accept the ROI, Stage 1 has to be satisfactorily completed. This includes all the required checks and references (by LB Ealing); Stage 1 Agreement Plan including self evaluation and analysis of training and learning (by the prospective adopter/s). If the time period has to be extended either because the assessing Social Worker deems it necessary or because the prospective adopter/s requests it, the reasons and the new timescales must be recorded. At the completion of Stage 1 the potential adopter/s must notify the allocated Social Worker if they wish to progress to Stage 2;
  4. Within 6 months of being notified by the LB Ealing that they may be suitable to adopt a child and progress to Stage 2, the prospective adopter/s must notify the allocated Social Worker of their decision whether to proceed to Stage 2 or not;
  5. Within 4 months of their request to proceed to Stage 2 the LB Ealing must conclude Stage 2 culminating in the Agency Decision Maker (ADM) making the decision about the suitability of prospective adopter/s' to adopt a child;
  6. For existing foster carers and previously approved adopter/s, the Agency Decision Maker (ADM) must make the decision about the suitability of prospective adopter/s' to adopt a child within 4 months of their registering an interest to adopt a child;
  7. Appendix A: Initial Enquiry, Stage 1 and 2 Flow chart outlines the above timescales and process.

3. Compliance

The Adoption Team Manager should monitor the Agency's performance and provide reports to Senior Managers and the Adoption and Permanence Panel every six months about children who are in the care of their local authority and who are waiting to be placed with new families. These reports should include:

  1. The number, type and age of the children waiting for an adoptive placement and length of time they have been waiting;
  2. The agency's performance against the timescales set out for the two-stage process above;
  3. Progress in the recruitment of suitable adoptive families;
  4. The number of children placed for adoption and adopted since the last report; and
  5. The number of children whose placement has disrupted or where there has been a change of plan and the child is no longer to be placed for adoption.

4. Initial Enquiry & Response

  • All initial enquiries should be responded to within 24 hours of the initial contact, which could be via phone, email or post. This will generally be done by the Carer Recruitment Coordinator (Fostering & Adoption Recruitment);
  • For all enquiries: the Initial Enquiry Form (Appendix B) should be completed; a case record initiated on MOSAIC and a Tracking Sheet (Appendix C) initiated;
  • An Information Pack, with an invitation to attend the next Information Session, should be posted or emailed within 48 hours of the initial contact;
  • If following this initial discussion the potential adopter/s is deemed not to be suitable due to their personal circumstances, the reasons must be clearly explained to them and they must be given information about the National Gateway For Adoption (First4Adoption); OR
  • If LB Ealing is not recruiting, the potential adopter/s should be informed of neighbouring agencies who may be recruiting. This should be noted on MOSAIC;
  • If the potential adopter/s are existing, adopter/s or foster carer/s, the Initial Enquiry Form (Appendix B) should be completed and passed to the Adoption Team;
  • If the enquiry is about Inter-Country adoption, the potential adopter/s should be given information about Inter-Country Adoption and sent an information pack within 48 hours. However, information about domestic adoption should also be shared with them so that they can make an informed decision. If appropriate, they should be sent an Information Pack about Domestic Adoption, including an invitation to attend the next Information Session, within 48 hours of enquiry;
  • Following receipt of the Information Pack the potential adopter/s may call the Duty Social Worker – Adoption Team for more information. Following this discussion, if appropriate, they should be:
    • Encouraged to attend the next information session; OR
    • Offered a home visit; OR
    • If deemed not suitable, the reasons must be clearly explained to them and they must be given information about the National Gateway For Adoption (First4Adoption); OR
    • If LB Ealing is not recruiting, the potential adopter/s should be informed of neighbouring agencies who may be recruiting. This should be noted on MOSAIC.

5. Information Session

  1. There is no regulatory requirement for potential adopter/s to attend an information session. However, they should always be encouraged to do so as the information session will be informative in enabling them to make an informed decision about whether they wish to pursue adoption as well as hear directly from experienced adopter/s and Social Workers;
  2. All potential adopter/s who attend the information session should be given the opportunity to register their interest to progress as potential adopter/s either verbally or in writing to a member of staff;
  3. Potential adopter/s may chose not to attend the information session but may still register their wish to progress as potential adopter/s, verbally or in writing;
  4. The list of potential adopter/s wishing to progress their interest as potential adopter/s should be passed by the Recruitment Team to the Adoption Team Administrator within 24 hours of the information session;
  5. Within 48 hours following receipt of the list from the Recruitment Team, the Adoption Team Manager/equivalent should allocate a Social Worker;
  6. The Allocated Social Worker (ASW) should phone the potential adopter/s. If appropriate, arrange initial home visit. If deemed not suitable, the reasons must be clearly explained to them and they must be given information about the National Gateway For Adoption (First4Adoption) OR if LB Ealing is not recruiting, the potential adopter/s should be informed of neighbouring agencies who may be recruiting. This should be noted on MOSAIC.

6. Initial Home Visit

  1. Within 10 working days from receiving the list, the ASW from the Adoption Team should visit the potential adopter/s;
  2. The purpose of the initial visit is for the ASW:
    • To answer any questions the Potential Adopters have about adoption or the adoption process;
    • To explain the two stage approval process; and
    • Gather information in order to determine if the potential adopter/s may be suitable to adopt a child (Appendix D);
    • If the ASW is satisfied there is no adverse information, the potential adopter/s should be given the Registration Of Interest Form (ROI Form) (Appendix E) should they wish to proceed to Stage 1 – The Pre-assessment;
    • If the ASW is unsure whether potential adopter/s may be suitable to adopt a child the ROI Form should not be given;
    • Within 48 hours of the home visit, the ASW and Adoption Team Manager/equivalent should decide whether potential adopter/s might be suitable to adopt a child or not;
    • Potential adopter/s should be informed of the decision and either asked to complete the ROI Form or if they may not be suitable to adopt a child, the reasons must be clearly explained to them and they must be given information about the National Gateway For Adoption (First4Adoption) OR if LB Ealing is not recruiting, the potential adopter/s should be informed of neighbouring agencies who may be recruiting. This should be noted on MOSAIC.

7. Information to be Provided about the Prospective Adopter/s for Stage 1 – AAR 26(a) ROI Form (Appendix E)

  1. Name, sex, date and place of birth and address including the local authority area;
  2. If the prospective adopter/s is married or has formed a civil partnership and is applying alone for an assessment of their suitability to adopt, the reasons for this;
  3. Details of any previous family court proceedings in which the prospective adopter/s has been involved;
  4. Names and addresses of three referees who will give personal references on the prospective adopter/s, not more than one of whom may be a relative;
  5. Name and address of the prospective adopter/s registered medical practitioner;
  6. If the prospective adopter/s:
    • Is married, the date and place of the marriage;
    • Has formed a civil partnership, the date and place of registration of that partnership; or
    • Has a partner, details of that relationship.
  7. Details of any previous marriage, civil partnership or relationship;
  8. Whether the prospective adopter/s is domiciled or habitually resident in a part of the British Isles and if habitually resident for how long they have been habitually resident;
  9. Details of other members of the prospective adopter/s household (including any children of the prospective adopter/s whether or not resident in the household).

8. Receipt of Registration of Interest Form

  1. Upon receipt of the ROI Form, the Adoption Team must decide within 5 working days whether to accept or decline the Registration of Interest i.e. the potential adopter/s may or may not be suitable to adopt a child;
  2. If the decision is that they may be suitable to adopt a child, the potential adopter/s must now be referred to as prospective adopter/s. The decision letter should be sent within 5 working days of receipt of the ROI Form (Appendix F);
  3. Adoption Team Manager to allocate a Social Worker within 5 working days of the receipt of the ROI Form;
  4. If the decision is that they may not be suitable to adopt a child or that the agency is not recruiting due to lack of capacity, the potential adopter/s should be informed of this in writing (Appendix F1). The letter should clearly state the reasons and the potential adopter/s should be offered the opportunity to discuss the outcome with the ASW. They should also be informed of the Agency's Complaints Procedure as well as the option to discuss any concerns with the National Gateway for Adoption. Potential adopter/s do not have access to the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM);
  5. The 5 working day deadline for decision making can be extended in exceptional circumstances if the Agency requires further information to enable a decision to be made;
  6. The Agency:
    • Can decline a Registration of Interest if the potential adopter/s do not meet the Eligibility Criteria as specified in Section 1;
    • Cannot decline a Registration of Interest on the basis of age, sexual orientation, health, ethnicity, religious beliefs;
    • Cannot decline a Registration of Interest on the basis that the potential adopter/s' cannot meet the needs of the local children awaiting adoption, unless there is insufficient capacity. The Government requires all Agencies to recruit adopter/s who can meet the needs of any children awaiting adoption;
    • If there is insufficient capacity, the potential adopter/s should be referred to another Agency who may be recruiting or the National Gateway for Adoption.

9. Stage 1: The Pre-Assessment Process

9.1 Counselling, Information and Preparation for Adoption

Some prospective adopter/s may have limited relevant experience whilst others may already have recent experience of caring for a child, as parents, foster carers or child minders. Some may be applying to adopt for a second time. The agency should discuss and agree the nature of the preparation that is most appropriate for the prospective adopter/s.

All prospective adopter/s will need some form of adoption preparation. The agency will need to decide its form and substance, arranging preparation that takes into account the prospective adopter/s' circumstances. Preparation should be designed to help prospective adopter/s make an informed decision about pursuing adoption based on an understanding of the qualities they have to offer a child. The agency should build on these strengths when working with the prospective adopter/s.

Stage 1 which is 'adopter-led', will focus on initial training and preparation, and on ascertaining, through prescribed checks and references, whether there is any absolute reason why the prospective adopter/s should not proceed further. During this stage, the prospective adopter/s will be exploring the extent of their interest in and capacity for adoption, prior to a firmer decision on whether to proceed to Stage 2. The Allocated Social Worker is expected to take into account fully the prospective adopter/s' wishes on how they wish to work through Stage 1.

The Allocated Social Worker should also explain the importance of openness at all times. Matters the prospective adopter/s might consider unimportant may be of greater significance than they realise. Nevertheless, the agency should not assume that a failure to disclose information that it considers relevant automatically implies that the prospective adopter/s is unsuitable. It will be necessary to discuss the matter and the reasons for non-disclosure. See Hofstetter v London Borough of Barnet and IRM [2009] EWHC 3282 (Admin).

  1. Stage 1 should be completed within 2 months of the Registration Of Interest being accepted;
  2. A case record must be set up to in accordance with AAR 23 (Appendix G);
  3. Within 10 working days of the decision to accept the ROI, the Allocated Social Worker should conduct a home visit to the prospective adopter/s. The purpose of the home visit is to:
    • Provide further information about the Stage 1 process;
    • Discuss the individual needs of the prospective adopter/s;
    • Complete the Stage 1 Agreement Plan (Appendix H) setting out clearly the responsibilities and expectations of the prospective adopter/s and the Agency during Stage 1. The content should accord with AAR 22 (Appendix I);
    • Agree a date for the Midway Review (Appendix J) to consider the Stage 1 Agreement Plan and review whether the agreed timescales of 2 months will be adhered to;
    • Request the prospective adopter/s to complete the Self Evaluation and Reflection Form (Appendix K), DBS and the CoramBAAF Medical forms and arrange a medical examination with their General Practitioner (GP).

10. Stage 1: Agreement Plan (AAR 22) (Appendix I)

The Stage 1 Agreement Plan must include the following:

  1. The procedure for carrying out the Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) checks under AAR 25 (Refer to 11 below);
  2. If the prospective adopter/s have lived or worked abroad for longer than 6 months in any country they will be required to obtain foreign police reference/s (Refer to 11b below);
  3. All prescribed checks and references, including the medical (AAR26b) (Refer to 12 -14 below);
  4. Information about the counselling, information and preparation for adoption to be provided under AAR 24;
  5. Details of any training, reading and research that the prospective adopter/s have agreed to undertake;
  6. On line training/learning, when it is available via the National Gateway for Adoption (First4Adoption), and guidance on accessing this;
  7. Information about the role of the prospective adopter/s in the Stage 1 process;
  8. Information about the role of the Agency/Allocated Social Worker;
  9. Applicable timescales including a date for the mid-way review meeting;
  10. Information about the process for making a representation (including a complaint) under the 1989 Regulations; and
  11. Any other information that the agency considers relevant.

11. DBS Check (AAR 25)

The Allocated Social Worker should make it clear that the prospective adopter/s will not be able to proceed to Stage 2, where criminal record checks identify them or an adult member of their household as having been convicted of a specified offence or police caution in respect of a specified offence (Appendix L).

Where an agency will not learn the full history by conducting a criminal record check and other background checks on the prospective adopter/s, for example, where they have lived abroad for an extended period, it should decide whether in addition to the foreign police reference it should carry out any other checks or take up additional references. The agency should ensure it has sufficient information to justify continuing with Stage 1 but not delay the approval process. If it decides not to proceed, it should provide the prospective adopter/s with a clear written explanation of the reasons why.

An agency may not consider a prospective adopter/s suitable to adopt a child if they or any adult member of their household has been convicted of a specified offence committed at 18 or over, or has received a police caution in respect of a specified offence, which they admitted at the time, the caution was given. In such circumstances, the agency must notify the prospective adopter/s in writing, with reasons, without delay.

  1. The Allocated Social Worker should request the prospective adopter/s and any other adults living in the household to complete the DBS Check Form and provide the required documentation for this to be processed;
  2. Where the adopter/s or any member of their household has lived abroad for longer than 6 months in any country they should be requested to apply for a police check directly from that country at the earliest.

12. Health (AAR 26)

The agency must obtain a written report from a registered medical practitioner about the health of the prospective adopter/s following a full examination. The report must include the matters specified in Schedule 4, Part 2 of the AAR (Appendix M), unless the agency has received advice from its medical adviser that such an examination and report is unnecessary.

The agency's medical adviser will need to provide a summary of the prospective adopter/s' state of health as part of the prospective adopter/s' report. The medical adviser will need to form a view as to the adequacy of the reports received and to advise whether additional specialist opinion should be obtained. The prospective adopter/s' current GP may not have a full health history of the prospective adopter/s, particularly if they have received private medical care outside the NHS.

Agencies have a duty to satisfy themselves that prospective adopter/s have a reasonable expectation of continuing to enjoy good health. The medical adviser should explain and interpret health information from the prospective adopter/s, their GP, and consultants to facilitate Adoption and Permanence Panel discussion. The opinion of the agency's medical adviser needs to be given sufficient weight by Adoption and Permanence Panels and the agency decision-maker.

Mild chronic conditions are unlikely to preclude people from adopting provided that the condition does not place the child at risk through an inability of the individual to protect the child from commonplace hazards or limit them in providing children with a range of beneficial experiences and opportunities. Agencies should bear in mind the possibility of providing support in appropriate cases to assist in overcoming any possible negative consequences arising from disability or restricted mobility. More severe health conditions may raise a question about the suitability of the prospective adopter/s, but each case will have to be considered on its own facts and with appropriate advice:

  1. Prospective adopter/s should be assisted by their allocated Social Worker to understand the importance of making their full health history available to their GP;
  2. The allocated Social Worker should request the prospective adopter/s to complete the CoramBAAF Health Form and arrange an adoption medical with their GP;
  3. Once completed, the CoramBAAF Form should be returned to the Adoption Team Administrator, who will send it to the Agency Medical advisor;
  4. The Agency medical advisor should provide their medical advice within 10 working days from receipt of the completed CoramBAAF medical form.

13. References (AAR 26)

Referees should be sent information about adoption with the letter seeking the reference. The information should provide general advice about adoption and explain that references are sought to help establish whether the prospective adopter/s could provide a safe and caring family for a child:

  1. The letter from the agency to the referee should ask for the following:
    • Information and views;
    • In what capacity they know the prospective adopter/s;
    • Prospective adopter/s personally;
    • How long they have known them and how often they see them;
    • The prospective adopter/s' child care experience, if any, and any related strengths and weaknesses;
    • If the referee has children, how the prospective adopter/s has interacted with and related to those children;
    • How the prospective adopter/s might cope with caring and parenting a child;
    • Any concerns about the safety of a child placed in the prospective adopter/s' home;
    • If a couple are being assessed, the stability and permanence of their relationship; and
    • Any other information that the referee thinks may be helpful to the assessment;
    • The letter should explain that access to the reference will be restricted to the agency and the Adoption and Permanence Panel, unless access to it is sought under the Data Protection Act 1998 by the prospective adopter/s and the referee subsequently agrees to its disclosure to them.

13.1 Friend and Family

Schedule 4 of the AAR requires the prospective adopter/s to provide the names of three referees, two of whom should not be related to them. The agency must prepare a written report of the interviews held with each of the referees. Where the agency considers it necessary, it may seek references from ex-partners and adult children of prospective adopter/s.

  1. The allocated Social Worker should request the names of three friends (non-related people) from who references could be requested. These should be people who have known the prospective adopter/s well individually in a personal capacity for at least three years. At least one of the referees should have children. LB Ealing will decide which of the two non-related referees they will interview;
  2. Details of one family member, for each applicant, from whom a reference must be obtained.

13.2 Former Partners

  1. Where a prospective adopter/s has been in a previous significant relationship, where they have cohabited and that included child(ren), a reference will usually be taken up from the previous partner and the child/adult child, unless the agency considers there are exceptional reasons for not doing so;
  2. If a prospective adopter/s expresses concerns about the above approaches, these should be recorded and considered;
  3. If the Adoption Team Manager decides that a reference should not be taken from a former partner who jointly parented or cared for a child with the prospective adopter/s, the decision and the reasons should be recorded on the case record and noted on the prospective adopter/s' report (PAR);
  4. Where former partners have not jointly parented or cared for a child with the prospective adopter/s, they should generally not be approached unless there is a specific reason for doing so.

13.3 Children/Adult Children

  1. All children/adult children/step-children of the prospective adopter/s should be interviewed unless there are specific reasons for not doing so.

14. Local Authority Checks (AAR 26e)

  1. The Adoption Team Administrator must ascertain whether the local authority in whose area the prospective adopter/s has their home has any information about them that may be relevant to the assessment. If so, the agency must obtain from that authority a written report setting out the information. Local authorities asked for this information should comply promptly with these requests and provide this information within 15 working days wherever possible;
  2. In requesting information from a local authority, the agency should seek to ascertain whether records held by social services and education departments, including the child protection register, hold relevant information about the prospective adopter/s;
  3. A check must specifically be sought to ascertain if a child of the family has been subject to child protection procedures, as an adoption check may not automatically involve this;
  4. The prospective adopter/s may have lived for only a short period in the area of their local authority. In such cases, the agency should obtain information from the prospective adopter/s' former local authorities.

15. Other Checks / References (Practice Guidance – Preparing and Assessing Prospective Adopter/s)

  1. A reference should be requested from the current or last employer verifying employment dates, their role, and whether there have been any relevant disputes or disciplinary proceedings;
  2. LB Ealing may decide to seek references from previous employers for further verification;
  3. If the prospective adopter/s is or has been employed in a child care capacity or been involved in voluntary work with children or vulnerable adults a reference should also be sought;
  4. If the prospective adopter/s has a child of nursery or school age then a reference should be sought from the nursery/school, asking them to comment upon the child/parent relationship, attendance and any other information they consider relevant including their relationship with the prospective adopter/s;
  5. If the prospective adopter/s has not informed the employer/school about their intention to adopt then a timescale for doing do should be agreed so as to prevent delay in the required verification of the information;
  6. If the prospective adopter/s is or has been known to the probation service, its views should be sought.

16. Stage 1: Pre-Assessment Decision (AAR 27)

  1. If at the Midway Review meeting, or at any time during Stage 1, it is clear that Stage 1 will take longer than two months, for example, because a criminal record check is delayed or the prospective adopter/s wants more time (they might be struggling with the process or have a significant event such as a family bereavement), an agency may delay making their pre-assessment decision. In this case, agencies will be required to detail the reasons for the extended timescale on the prospective adopter/s' case record, along with supporting evidence. This information is important given that performance on the timeliness of the approval process will be measured;
  2. If during Stage 1, the allocated Social Worker and Team Manager decide the prospective adopter/s may not be suitable to adopt a child they must be informed in writing of the decision, clearly stating the reasons why they are not suitable to adopt a child and therefore cannot proceed to Stage 2 (Appendix F1). They must be given information about the National Gateway for Adoption (First4Adoption) should they wish to raise any concerns and offered access to the LB Ealing's Complaints procedure. They do not have access to the IRM;
  3. If having received written notification from the prospective adopter/s that the Stage 1 Plan has been satisfactorily completed, including the self evaluation and reflection and analysis of training and learning and that they wish to progress to Stage 2, the Adoption Team manager and the allocated Social Worker must decide within 5 working days whether the:
    • Stage 1 Agreement Plan has been satisfactorily completed, including:
      • All the statutory checks, including the DBS and medical;
      • The training and learning is evidenced;
      • Self evaluation & reflection has been appropriately undertaken.
    • If so, whether the prospective adopter/s may be suitable to adopt a child and therefore can proceed to Stage 2 or not;
    • If the decision is that they are not suitable to adopt a child, the case should be referred to the Operations Manager (Children's Placements Services) for review and decision within 2 working days of the decision not to proceed;
    • If Operations Manager's decision is that they are not suitable to adopt a child, the potential adopter/s must be notified in writing of decision and the reasons (Appendix N). They must also be given information about the National Gateway for Adoption (First4Adoption) should they wish to raise any concerns and offered access to the LB Ealing's Complaints procedure. They do not have access to the IRM;
    • If the decision is that they may be suitable to adopt a child and are suitable to progress to Stage 2:
      • Adoption Team Manager to allocate a Social Worker within 5  working days of the receipt of notification to progress to Stage 2. Where feasible, continuity of Social Worker should be maintained;
      • The allocated Social Worker should notify the prospective adopter/s of the decision in writing and explain that they must notify the agency if they wish to proceed to Stage 2 within six months of the date of the agency's notification (Appendix N1).
  4. If the prospective adopter/s wishes to take a break between Stage 1 and Stage 2, or an agency recommends such a break, this will be subject to a maximum time limit of six months. Six months should be sufficient in the vast majority of cases to enable prospective adopters to resolve, for example, a housing, employment or financial issue, or to recover from an illness or family bereavement;
  5. Where this break is longer than six months, the prospective adopter/s will need to restart Stage 1. In these circumstances, agencies should respond within 5 working days of contact from the prospective adopter/s and offer them a re-entry interview. The Stage 1 Plan should take into account activities undertaken previously.

17. Stage 2: The Assessment Process (AAR 28)

Prospective adopter/s are not able to commence Stage 2 of the process until they have successfully completed Stage 1 and have notified their agency that they wish to proceed with the assessment process (at the latest within six months of the agency decision), unless they are second time adopter/s or foster carers (see section b below), and the Agency has deemed that they may be suitable to adopt a child.

Stage 2 should generally be completed with the same agency as Stage 1. There could be occasions where the prospective adopter/s will need to undertake Stage 2 with a different agency, for example if they move area or the agency identifies capacity issues which would delay a move to Stage 2, but this would only be in exceptional circumstances. In such circumstances, it would be up to the new agency to decide whether to accept the prospective adopter/s at Stage 2 and, if they did, any case records would have to be transferred to the new agency under AAR 43.

Stage 2 starts when the agency receives notification from the prospective adopter/s that they wish to proceed with the assessment process. Stage 2 should take four months unless there are exceptional circumstances which mean the agency cannot make the decision within that time, or the agency delays making the decision upon the request of the prospective adopter/s. Reasons for any extensions should be recorded on the case file. The Adoption Team Manager should make the decision regarding any extension.

Stage 2 is about intensive training and assessment:

  1. If prospective adopter/s wish to proceed to Stage 2 without a break the allocated Social Worker should visit within 10 working days from receipt of confirmation to progress to Stage 2. The purpose of the home visit is to:
    • Explain what Stage 2 will entail, including the assessment and decision-making process, role of the Adoption and Permanence Panel and the possible outcomes. Information should also be shared about the IRM;
    • Explain the role and responsibilities of the prospective adopter/s and the allocated Social Worker;
    • Complete the Stage 2 Agreement Plan with the prospective adopter/s (Appendix O).

18. Prospective Adopter/s (Stage 2) Assessment Agreement Plan (AAR 29)

  1. The adoption agency must prepare a written plan in consultation with the prospective adopter/s ("the prospective adopter/s assessment plan") which includes the following matters:
    • The procedure for assessing the prospective adopter/s' suitability to adopt a child;
    • Completion of a home study assessment using the CoramBAAF PAR format (Appendix P). Reference should be made to the Framework for Assessment and the Practice Guidance on Assessment and in some circumstances the appropriateness of an Attachment Style Interview;
    • Any applicable timescales, including dates and frequency of meetings, date for the mid-way review and proposed date for the Adoption and Permanency panel;
    • The arrangements for the prospective adopter/s to receive any additional counselling or preparation for adoption;
    • Details of any training that the prospective adopter/s has agreed to undertake, including dates for the 4 day Preparation Course;
    • Information about the role of the prospective adopter/s in the assessment process;
    • Information about the process for submitting representations or applying to the Secretary of State for a review under regulation 30B(5)(c); and
    • Any other matters which the agency considers relevant.

19. The Assessment

AAR 30 sets out the duties of the agency in carrying out its assessment and preparing the prospective adopter/s' report (PAR). The report itself is one of those to which the Restrictions on the Preparation of Adoption Reports Regulations 2005 (ARR) apply.

The assessment will involve a series of interviews generally within the prospective adopter/s' home. If in a partnership, the prospective adopter/s' should also be seen alone as should all other members of the household including any children.

  1. The PAR format identifies key information, which is required about the applicants and the factual information required by regulations. There is greater emphasis upon self-evaluation by prospective adopter/s. In conducting the assessment, the social worker should:
    • Be objective and inquiring, with information evaluated and its accuracy and consistency checked;
    • Analyse and evaluate the information they ascertain from and about the prospective adopter/s, including any issues identified during the adoption preparation, to ascertain the prospective adopter/s' suitability to adopt a child.
  2. The following information is required for inclusion in the prospective adopter/s' report (AAR 30(2) and Part 1 (Stage 1 Pre-assessment Stage) and Part 3 of Schedule 4 (Appendix Q):
    • A photograph and physical description;
    • Racial origin and cultural and linguistic background;
    • Religious persuasion;
    • Relationship (if any) to the child;
    • A description of the prospective adopter/s' personality and interests;
    • The prospective adopter/s, the prospective adopter/s' siblings and any children of the prospective adopter/s, with their ages (or ages at death);
    • A chronology of the prospective adopter/s from birth, verifying that there are no gaps;
    • The observations of the prospective adopter/s' about their own experience of being parented and how this has influenced them;
    • Details of any experience the prospective adopter/s have had of caring for children (including as a parent, step-parent, foster parent, child minder or prospective adopter/s) and an assessment of the prospective adopter/s' ability in this respect;
    • Any other information which indicates how the prospective adopter/s and anybody else living in the prospective adopter/s' household is likely to relate to a child placed for adoption with the prospective adopter/s.

19.1 Wider Family

  1. A description of the wider family of the prospective adopter/s and their role and importance to the prospective adopter/s and their likely role and importance to a child placed for adoption with the prospective adopter/s.

19.2 Information about the Home etc. of the Prospective Adopter/s

  1. Information about the prospective adopter/s' home and the neighbourhood in which the prospective adopter/s lives;
  2. Information about the local community of the prospective adopter/s, including the degree of the family's integration with its peer groups, friendships and social networks.

19.3 Education and Employment

  1. Details of the prospective adopter/s' educational history and attainments and the prospective adopter/s' views about how this has influenced them.
  2. Details of the prospective adopter/s' employment history and the observations of the prospective adopter/s about how this has influenced them.
  3. The current employment of the prospective adopter/s and the prospective adopter/s' views about achieving a balance between employment and childcare.

19.4 Income

  1. Details of the prospective adopter/s' income and expenditure. Only a summary of this needs to be included in the PAR.

19.5 Other Information

19.5.1 Information about the prospective adopter/s' capacity to:
  1. Provide for a child's needs, particularly emotional and behavioural development needs;
  2. Share a child's history and associated emotional issues; and
  3. Understand and support a child through possible feelings of loss and trauma.
19.5.2 The prospective adopter/s
  1. Reasons for wishing to adopt a child and childlessness;
  2. Current relationships and the circumstances of all past significant relationships should be verified;
  3. The ending of all significant relations should be verified; 
  4. Views and feelings about adoption and its significance;
  5. Views about their parenting capacity;
  6. Views about parental responsibility and what it means;
  7. Views about a suitable home environment for a child;
  8. Views about the importance and value of education;
  9. Views and feelings about the importance of a child's religious and cultural upbringing; and
  10. Views and feelings about contact and willingness to promote contact with the child's birth family;
  11. The views of other members of the prospective adopter/s household and wider family in relation to adoption;
  12. What support prospective adopter/s are likely to require post placement;
  13. Any other relevant information, which might assist the Adoption and Permanence Panel or the adoption agency in considering the prospective adopter/s' suitability to adopt a child.

The following information does not need to be included in the PAR but must form part of the prospective adopter/s' case record:

  • A family tree;
  • Eco map;
  • Health & Safety check;
  • Detailed financial statement;
  • Self evaluation and reflection completed by the prospective adopter/s.

19.6 Stage 2 Midway Review (Appendix R)

  1. A Midway Review, (8 weeks into Stage 2), involving the Assessing Social Worker and the prospective adopter/s should consider whether:
    • The Stage 2 Assessment Agreement Plan is being adhered to;
    • Further training or other input which is required;
    • Whether the prospective adopter/s or the assessing Social Worker think longer than 4 months is required, if so the reasons and the new timescales should be agreed and clearly recorded. The Adoption Team Manager should sanction any extension beyond the 4 months.

19.7 References

  1. Whilst majority of the prescribed checks and references will be carried out during Stage 1, unless there is a specific reason for completing personal references earlier, these should be carried out after the midway review when the assessing social worker will be in a position to ask pertinent questions and seek clarification of the referees. There is discretion to ask the applicant(s) to provide contact details for additional referees if required. (Refer to 13 and 15 above).

19.8 Second Opinion Visit

  1. There is no regulatory requirement to carry out a second opinion visit and it should not be routinely carried out, however, where having completed the assessment there are specific concerns or information needs to be clarified, this can be a useful tool;
  2. The assessing Social Worker should draft the PAR, highlighting any issues of concern and submit it to the Adoption Team Manager;
  3. The Adoption Team Manager may arrange for another experienced Social Worker or Senior Social Worker to visit the prospective adopter to discuss these;
  4. The author of the report and the countersigning officer should both sign and date the report, state their qualifications and experience, and confirm that they have complied with The Restriction on the Preparation of Adoption Reports Regulations 2005 (3).

20. Fostering for Adoption – (Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review)

  1. As part of the Stage 2 assessment, the assessing Social Worker should discuss with the prospective adopter/s whether they may be interested in fostering a child for whom adoption is thought to be a likely outcome. Although the child's plan is likely to become adopted, the local authority has not yet ruled out other options for that child. Such placements are known as Fostering for Adoption (FFA) and include practices such as concurrent planning;
  2. There is no need for the agency to assess and approve the prospective adopter as a temporary foster carer at the same time as they are carrying out the adopter/s approval process although they can do so if they and the prospective adopter/s wish to do so. The child's local authority can arrange for the foster care assessment and approval of an approved adopter/s as a temporary foster carer. A voluntary adoption agency can undertake the foster carer assessment if it is also a fostering agency;
  3. The assessing Social Worker should indicate in the PAR if the prospective adopter/s is interested in FFA and whether they are likely to be suitable for this. This will allow local authorities to match the prospective adopter/s with a child requiring a FFA placement.

21. Second or Subsequent Adoption Applications and Applications from Foster Carers - Fast Track Approval Process

Previous adopter/s and foster carer/s may be able to bypass Stage 1 and enter the process at Stage 2. They should receive a tailored assessment to take account of such factors as their previous experience of adopting or fostering and the needs of the child they have previously adopted/fostered. Those who qualify are:

  1. Second time adopter/s who have previously adopted in England and Wales and been approved under the Adoption Agency Regulations 2005 or the Adoptions with a Foreign Element Regulations 2005; and
  2. Anyone who is approved as a Foster Carer in England at the time that they apply to adopt;
  3. These assessments must be fast tracked and completed within 4 months of the prospective adopter/s expressing their interest to adopt a child;
  4. All of the prescribed checks and references must still be current or must be re-applied for depending upon the time since approval and, in the case of foster carers, the time since a child was placed with them;
  5. Foster carers and prospective adopter/s who are interested in adopting specific child/ren must be advised that their assessment will be in respect of their suitability to adopt generally and that, if they are approved, their suitability to adopt the specific child/ren in question will be addressed as part of the matching process;
  6. The fast track process does not apply to a person who is caring for a child placed under Regulation 24 (temporary approval of relative, friend or other person connected with Child) or 25A (temporary approval of prospective adopter as foster parent) the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010.
Note: Foster carers can make an application to the Court to adopt child/ren in their care once they have been in placement for more than one year. However, the Statutory Adoption Guidance suggests that Foster carers should be encouraged to participate in the usual Adoption Agency process. If carers decide to progress a Notified Adoption, they should give notice of their intention to adopt to the Local Authority. Under these circumstances, the carers will not go through the usual preparation and assessment process. Foster carers can, in these circumstances, make an application for an Assessment for Adoption Support under the Adoption Support Regulations 2005. If such a notification to adopt is received, the Local Authority in whose area the Foster Carers reside has to prepare an Annex A Report for the Court.

22. Reports to the Adoption and Permanence Panel (AAR 30)

AAR 30(2) sets out the contents of the PAR. Except in cases where a 'brief report' is appropriate, the agency will present this to the Adoption and Permanence Panel, together with the other documents specified in AAR 30. This will be information gathered during Stage 1 and Stage 2, including all the checks and references, and the assessing Social worker's assessment and analysis of it.  The PAR should be quality assured by the Adoption Team Manager. The Assessing Social Worker must ensure the following:

  1. The prospective adopter/s are reminded of the Adoption and Permanence panel date and given written information about the Panel, its membership and process. There is no requirement for them to attend, however all prospective adopter/s should be encouraged to attend as it is their opportunity to be actively part of the Panel meeting which will consider their suitability to adopt a child;
  2. The prospective adopter/s have received the PAR/Brief Report, minus the checks and references, and had 5 working days (unless there are exceptional circumstances which warrant a longer period) within which to provide their feedback;
  3. The final report is signed by the prospective adopter/s and if any discrepancy of views remain they have the right to provide additional written information for the Adoption & Permanence (A&P) Panel's consideration;
  4. 12 working days before the date of the A&P Panel, the signed PAR/Brief report, all the checks and references, medical advice, and any other relevant information are sent to the Panel Administrator, who will send these to the Agency Advisor to the A&P Panel;
  5. The Agency advisor to the A&P Panel has agreed that the PAR/Brief Report contains all the required information and can be presented to the A&P Panel;
  6. The Panel Administrator will provide the assessing Social Worker with the Panel agenda two weeks before panel and they must ensure the prospective adopter/s are informed of the timing of their case.

22.1 Brief Report (AAR 30)

If during the Stage 2 assessment process, information obtained suggests that the prospective adopter/s' may be unsuitable to adopt a child, this should be:

  1. Discussed with the Adoption Team Manager and if necessary advice sought from the Agency Advisor to the Adoption and Permanence Panel, the Legal Advisor and Medical Advisor;
  2. The concerns/reasons should be discussed with the prospective adopter/s, who should be offered counselling and any other support as required;
  3. They should be informed, verbally and in writing of the process, including presentation of the Brief report to the A&P Panel, the options available to the A&P Panel and the Agency Decision Maker, their subsequent right to either make representations to the Agency or to the Independent Review Mechanism as well as raise any concerns with the National Gateway for Adoption;
  4. If the prospective adopter/s decide to withdraw their application, their decision and the reasons should be confirmed in writing by the Adoption Team Manager;
  5. If they decide not to withdraw their application the Assessing Social Worker should prepare a Brief report, detailing all the information obtained to date, including medical, DBS checks and references;
  6. The completed Brief report should be sent to the prospective adopter/s, allowing 5 working days (unless there are exceptional circumstances, which warrant a longer period) within which they must provide their feedback;
  7. Refer to C – F above.

23. The Adoption and Permanence Panel (AAR 30A)

The recommendation of the A&P Panel is governed by the duty under AAR 30A to consider all the information passed to it, and under regulation 4.2 of the Suitability of Adopters Regulations 2005 (SAR) to have proper regard to the stability and permanence of the relationship of any couple whose case is referred. Panel can be a stressful event for prospective adopter/s, panel members, whilst being robust in their consideration of the case, should ensure that their conduct is appropriate and questions are non-judgemental.

  1. The assessing Social Worker and, if applicable, their manager must attend the panel and answer any queries the panel has;
  2. The prospective adopter/s should be encouraged to attend and participate in answering any questions the panel may have;
  3. When making a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker, the panel must consider all the written documentation and verbal presentations at panel, about whether prospective adopter/s are suitable to adopt a child, and if so, give advice about the number, ages and gender as well as the type and background of child/ren the prospective adopter/s may be suitable for;
  4. The panel must record its reasons and ensure these are clearly communicated to the prospective adopter/s at the end of their case. Any dissenting views from panel members must be recorded in the minutes. If required the Independent Chair of the Panel has a casting vote;
  5. If the panel recommends that the prospective adopter/s are not suitable to adopt, it must ensure a fair hearing has taken place to enable the prospective adopter/s to respond to any questions the panel may have had. The panel must record its reasons and ensure these are clearly communicated to the prospective adopter/s at the end of their case.  Any dissenting views from panel members must be recorded in the minutes. If required the Independent Chair of the Panel has a casting vote;
  6. Panel must record whether the PAR has been presented within 4 months of the prospective adopter/s' notification that they wish to proceed to Stage 2. If not, reasons for the delay must be recorded;
  7. If the panel considers there is insufficient information, it can defer the case and request that the Agency provides for further information. The Agency has to comply with this request;
  8. The panel meeting should be minuted by the Clerk to the Panel. The recommendation in respect of each case and the reasons for it should be clearly stated;
  9. The prospective adopter/s and attendee workers must be informed of the panel's recommendation straight away by the Independent Chair of the Panel.

24. Agency Decision (AAR 30B)

24.1 Suitable to Adopt

Within 4 months of the Agency having received the notification from the prospective adopter/s that they wish to proceed to Stage 2 and within 7 working days from having received the final minutes of the A&P Panel, the Agency Decision Maker must make a decision:

  • About the suitability of the prospective adopter/s, taking into consideration, all the documentation considered by the A&P Panel, the recommendation and advice of the A&P Panel and the minutes of the panel meeting;
  • The Agency Decision Maker may also express a view on the advice given by the panel;
  • If having considered the panel's recommendation and advice the Agency Decision Maker is minded to agree, then their decision and advice should be communicated in writing to the prospective adopter/s within 5 working days of the ADM's decision, including information about the Adoption Register (Appendix S);
  • If the Agency Decision Maker is minded not to agree with the A&P Panel's recommendation and/or Advice, then advice should be sought from the Agency Advisor to the panel;
  • The decision and the reasons for disagreeing should be communicated to the Independent Chair of the Panel;
  • The decision and advice should be recorded on the prospective adopter/s' case record.

24.2 Not Suitable to Adopt

  1. Where the Agency Decision Maker is minded not to approve the prospective adopter/s as suitable to adopt, and makes a Qualifying Determination:
    • The ADM should write to the prospective adopter/s using the standard letter, providing full and detailed reasons for the determination. (Appendix T);
    • The prospective adopter/s has a right to either make representations to the ADM or apply for an Independent Review;
    • The prospective adopter/s have 40 working days, from the date of the Qualifying Determination, within which to either make representations to the ADM or apply for an Independent Review;
    • After the 40 working day period has expired, the agency decision-maker must proceed to make a decision on the suitability of the prospective adopter to adopt a child. It must also notify the prospective adopter/s in writing of its decision together with the reasons for that decision;
    • The Assessing Social Worker should ensure the prospective adopter/s are receiving appropriate information, support and guidance during this process, which will be very distressing for the prospective adopter/s.

25. Representations

  1. Where the agency receives representations from the prospective adopter/s within 40 working days:
    • The ADM may consider the representations and may invite the prospective adopter/s to meet to discuss their case;
    • The ADM may, instead, refer the case to the A&P Panel for further consideration;
    • Where the case is referred to the A&P Panel, the panel must consider the case again; and
    • Make a fresh recommendation; taking into account the original Brief report and the representations, as to the suitability of the prospective adopter/s to adopt a child, see AAR 30B(8);
    • The prospective adopter/s must be invited to attend the panel meeting to answer any questions the A&P panel may have. This will be done by the Panel Administrator;
    • The prospective adopter/s may attend panel with a supporter;
    • The agreed minutes of the panel should clearly specify the recommendation of the panel and the reasons for the recommendation.

26. Agency Decision Following Representations or Review by Review Panel

  1. On receipt of the A&P panel's or independent review panel's recommendation, advice and minutes of the meeting,
    • The Agency Decision Maker  must make a decision in accordance with AAR 30B(9);
    • Taking into account the further recommendation of the Adoption and Permanence Panel (if any) or, where the review panel has made a recommendation, to take account of that recommendation and the recommendation of the original Adoption and Permanence Panel before coming to a final decision;
    • If the Agency Decision Maker remains minded not to approve the prospective adopter/s, they should discuss the case with a senior colleague within the agency before making the final decision;
    • Within 7 working days of making the decision the Agency Decision Maker must notify the prospective adopter/s in writing of its decision;
    • Where the decision is not to approve the prospective adopter/s, the agency must provide the reasons for the decision;
    • If the Adoption and Permanence Panel's or review panel's recommendation was different, a copy of that recommendation must also be provided to the prospective adopter/s. In respect of a case referred to the independent review panel, the Secretary of State must also be given written notification of the decision.

27. Post Approval 

27.1 National Adoption Register – AAR 30G

The Adoption Register holds information on children waiting to be adopted and approved prospective adopter/s who are available and able to meet the needs of children:

  1. The allocated Social Worker must refer prospective adopter/s to the Register as soon as possible and in any event no later than 3 months from approval unless they have identified a particular child with whom they are considering placing with the prospective adopter/s;
  2. Agencies must ensure that the information the Adoption Register holds on the prospective adopter/s is kept up to date. Prospective adopter/s may choose to refer themselves to the Register, three months after approval, using the Adopter Self-Referral form (AD02) (Appendix U).

27.2 Home Visits and Support

  1. Following approval the assessing Social Worker should maintain regular contact with the prospective adopter/s and visit at least once every two months;
  2. Following approval prospective adopter/s must be given written information about the matching, introduction and placement processes;
  3. All contact should be recorded on the prospective adopter/s' file;
  4. Adoption UK & CoramBAAF – information should be shared with prospective adopter/s.

27.3 Profile & Album

  1. The prospective adopter/s and their worker should compile an A4 profile, including photograph/s of themselves or any child/ren already in the family, suitable to circulate to other agencies;
  2. This profile should be available for consideration by those workers who are family finding for children within LB Ealing;
  3. Prospective adopter/s should be asked to compile an album/talking book about themselves, including photographs, suitable to be used with a child(ren) during the early introductory period.

27.4 Training

  1. Prospective adopter/s must be informed of, and encouraged to attend, any training that is likely to facilitate their continued development;
  2. During this period the prospective adopter/s should be encouraged to reflect upon their parenting capacity and consider any changes required in the type of children who would be suitable to be placed with them for adoption.

27.5 Information about Children Needing Placement

  1. Waiting adopter/s should be kept informed of the children who are requiring placement;
  2. All approved adopter/s awaiting matching should be invited to attend the 'Ealing Activity Days' and any similar local/national events. They should be supported by their assessing Social Worker as appropriate.

28. Review of Approval: AAR 30(d)

  1. AAR 30D(2) requires the agency to review the prospective adopter/s' approval periodically until a child is placed for adoption with them or a match is under active consideration;
  2. Such a review must be held a year after approval and, subsequently, at yearly intervals or earlier if the agency considers it necessary;
  3. In order to determine whether the prospective adopter/s remain suitable the assessing Social Worker should gather the following information and complete the Annual Review Report (Appendix V):
    • Ascertain the views of the prospective adopter/s – these should be recorded on the review report;
    • The views of any other adult/child living in their household;
    • The prospective adopter/s' family circumstances;
    • Health;
    • Economic circumstances;
    • Work commitments; and
    • Whether DBS and medical checks are still up-to-date;
    • The prospective adopter/s should be asked whether their health remains unchanged since the previous medical checks arranged by the agency;
    • Advice on whether these should be renewed should be sought from the agency's medical adviser.
  4. The review should be conducted by Senior Social Worker within the Adoption Team and should be attended by the prospective adopter/s and their Link Worker;
  5. Following the review, if it is considered that the prospective adopter/s remain suitable to adopt, they should be informed of this in writing and the case file updated accordingly. A copy of the review report should be attached to the PAR;
  6. If the prospective adopter/s are no longer considered suitable to adopt, the assessing Social Worker should prepare a written report ("The Prospective Adopter/s' Review Report") which includes the Agency's reasons;
  7. The Assessing Social Worker and the Adoption Team Manager must meet with the prospective adopter/s' to discuss the concerns;
  8. If the prospective adopter/s' accept that their circumstances are such that they are no longer suitable to adopt a child then this should be confirmed in writing to the Assessing Social Worker. This decision should be recorded on the prospective adopter/s' case record;
  9. If the prospective adopter/s do not accept the concerns, they should be notified in writing of the review decision and informed of the A&P panel date, which will consider their case;
  10. The Social Worker's Review report and the 'Reviewing Officer's' report should be sent to the prospective adopter/s, inviting them to send any observations to the assessing Social Worker within 5 working days of the receipt of the report;
  11. At the end of the 5 working days period, if the prospective adopter/s' comments are received, the adoption agency must send the prospective adopter/s' review reports together with the prospective adopter/s' observations to the Adoption and Permanence Panel;
  12. The assessing Social Worker must obtain, so far as is reasonably practicable, any other relevant information which may be required by the Adoption and Permanence Panel and send that information to the panel. This information should also be shared with the prospective adopter/s, unless it relates to references received, Medical or DBS check;
  13. The Adoption and Permanence Panel must consider: the prospective adopter/s' review report; the prospective adopter/s' observations; and any other information passed to it by the adoption agency as well as the verbal presentations at panel by the prospective adopter/s and the Assessing Social Worker; and make a recommendation to the agency as to whether the prospective adopter/s remains suitable to adopt a child;
  14. The Agency Decision Maker must make a decision as to whether the prospective adopter/s remains suitable to adopt a child;
  15. The process at Section 24.1 and 24.2 should be followed.