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5.1.6 Permanence Panel - Local guidance


The purpose of this chapter is to ensure all children who are Looked After have a permanence Plan and that this is achieved with no undue delay. This chapter details the processes and expectations in respect of staff.


Permanence Planning Guidance

Care and Supervision Proceedings and the Public Law Outline Procedure

Legal Planning - Legal Tracking Meetings and the Area and County Gateway Panel Procedure


This chapter was reviewed and updated in October 2016. It has been substantially amended throughout and should be read in its entirety.


  1. Introduction
  2. What does Permanence mean?
  3. The Purpose of the Permanence Panel
  4. Outcomes of the Permanence Panel
  5. Emergency decisions made outside the Panel
  6. Review of Decisions
  7. Panel Administration
  8. Core Membership
  9. Meeting Frequency
  10. Panel Records

1. Introduction

This guidance clarifies the role of the Permanence Panel in the context of planning for children and identifies how the panel fits with the Public Law Outline process and the statutory review process for Children Looked After and Legal Planning - Legal Tracking Meetings and the Area and County Gateway Panel Procedure (also see, Looked After Reviews Procedure).

2. What does Permanence mean?

Permanence is the framework of legal, physical and emotional permanence which gives a child a sense of who they are, by providing security, continuing and commitment and identity throughout childhood and into adulthood.

  • Legal - e.g staying with birth parents, Adoption, Court Orders such as Child Arrangements order, Special Guardianship Order or Care Order;
  • Emotional - when the child feels attached to an adult who provides a stable, loving and secure relationship and creates a sense of belonging;
  • Physical or Environmental - a stable home environment within a familiar neighbourhood and community where the child's identity needs are met.

A range of options are available for permanence including:

The care planning process, informed by contributions from the child, their family and multi-agency professionals, will identify which of the above options is most likely to meet the children‘s needs and take into account their wishes and feelings. The child’s Care Plan will set out the details of the plan and how it will be implemented.

Details of the Permanence Pathway can be found in the document, Practice Framework Document - Local Guidance.

3. The Purpose of the Permanence Panel

The Permanence Panel is intended to prevent drift and enforce a rigorous approach to achieving permanence for children, alongside the statutory Children Looked After Review process.

The primary purpose of the Permanence Panel is to ensure that children have a permanent home as soon as possible, (taking into account the need for appropriate assessments of parental capacity to change and other aspects of the child’s life within the Public Law Outline legal process (see Care and Supervision Proceedings and the Public Law Outline Procedure).

Permanence Panel will also promote placement stability for children looked after.

The Permanence Panel will:

  1. Track all Permanence Plans for children from their second CLA Review to ensure that clear and robust permanence planning is taking place and that all viable options are being considered within appropriate timescales to prevent unnecessary drift and delay. Social Workers are not required to attend to discuss these cases however, where potential issues / concerns are identified which could affect the permanence planning the Child's Social Worker and their Team Manager will be asked to attend panel.

    The Permanence Panel will consider the following questions:
    • Has a permanence planning meeting been held?
    • Are all of the relevant people need to achieve permanence for the child aware and undertaking necessary tasks i.e. Family Finders, Permanence Team SWs?
    • Are all of the necessary assessments underway to determine whether a return home is the plan and with clear timescales?
    • Have potential family and friends carers been identified and have viability assessments commenced?
    • Is Adoption, Special Guardianship, Child Arrangement Order or permanent foster placement an option? Have the appropriate assessments in relation to these options commenced with clear timescales?
    • Is a sibling assessment required?
    • Have potential permanent carers outside the family been identified?
    • Do the timescales meet the needs of the child?
  2. Consider and approve any placement moves for a child in care;
  3. Ratify the matching of all permanent placements for children with foster carers (whether in house or agency carers);
  4. Ratify all Staying Put arrangements;
  5. Ratify Special Guardianship Assessments and Support Plans including agreeing Special Guardianship Financial Assessments prior to the final court date;
  6. Ratify temporary approval of Connected Persons Assessments;
  7. In respect of Adoption, Permanence Panel will review care plans and consider what further steps could or should be taken:
    • Where a child is subject to a placement order but no match has been made within 6 months of the date of the order;
    • Where a child has been placed for adoption but no application has been made to adopt within 6 months of placement.
  8. Where a child is placed with parents under Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010, these children will be monitored quarterly and where appropriate, revocation of Care Order recommended;
  9. Where a child has a plan for permanence and has complex needs which require support from other agencies such as health or education, the case should be referred to the Complex Cases Panel immediately following Permanence Panel if required, so that a joint package of support and funding can be considered.

4. Outcomes of the Permanence Panel

Having considered all of the information made available to it, the Permanence Panel will decide whether to:

  • Ratify the requests made, including the setting of timescale for implementation of action plans;
  • Justify the request or to set an alternative course of action;
  • Defer a decision until further information is provided, making clear when this will be achieved by;
  • Request that the case comes back to panel for review, following activity in (a) or (b);
  • Refuses the request with clear explanation.

5. Emergency decisions made outside the Panel

Any decision made outside the panel, on an emergency basis can only be made by the Deputy Director Children and Families or in her absence the Strategic Manager Resources. These decisions must be brought to the next panel retrospectively with all the required information.

6. Review of Decisions

To ensure that decisions made at the Legal Gateway panel are progressed within the agreed timescales, updates will be timetabled at the panel and obtained from relevant managers and Social Workers as appropriate. This will ensure management oversight and challenge, to avoid drift and delay for the children and young people concerned.

7. Panel Administration

Where assessments are being presented to panel for consideration, the relevant assessment reports must be sent to the Panel Administrator two weeks before the panel. The following documentation is needed:

  • Paperwork required for ALL cases:
    • Up to date C&F Assessment;
    • Child/Young Person’s Care Plan;
    • CLA Review Outcomes.

Additional Paperwork required:

  • Placement moves:
    • Minutes of Placement Support Meeting.
  • Matching:
    • Matching Proposal for a Long Term Fostering Placements (from LCS);
    • Foster Carers most recent Annual Review;
    • Foster Carers Form F (if completed within the last 2 years);
    • Foster Carers Capacity to Offer Permanence.
  • Staying Put:
    • Request for Approval for Staying Put Arrangement (form L1001 on Templates).
  • Special Guardianship:
    • Special Guardianship Assessment and Support Plan.

Please note: For any child/young person being considered for permanent matching, confirmation will be required that the carers are approved for permanent, long term placements. If they are not approved the Supervising Social Worker will need to present the foster carers to Fostering Panel for a change of approval prior to the match being presented to Permanence Panel.

For all cases booked on to Permanence Panel, the Panel Administrator will send a booking email to the Social Worker and Team Manager 7 working days prior to panel advising they are requested to attend Panel. It is an expectation that all social workers make themselves available for this Panel, either in person or via conference call.

8. Core Membership

Operations Manager CLA
Family Finding SW
IRO Manager
Children’s Finance Manager
Virtual School Head
Foster Carer Representative
Operations Manager Leaving Care

Optional Members:

Placements Team Manager
All other Operations Managers
P2i Coordinator

Where a core member cannot attend, they must identify a suitable substitute of the same grade.

Social workers and their Team Managers will be invited to Panel to discuss specific cases.

9. Meeting Frequency

Permanence Panel meetings will normally be held fortnightly on Thursdays at County Hall, Taunton.

10. Panel Records

A written summary of the meeting will always be taken by the Panel Administrator.

The written summary will set out the panel decision with a clear rationale for their decision making.

The notes will be produced and ratified by Panel Chair within 5 working days of Panel.

The notes will be added onto LCS on the child’s file in the forms tab on the Permanence Panel meeting form, and on the carers file where relevant.