Review of Prospective Adopters

1. Introduction

The assessing social worker will support the adopters through the period of waiting for a placement, identify any further training needs, arrange updated medical examinations, DBS and other statutory checks as per the Agency's policy, consider any potential matches and discuss any such matches with the approved adopters before a match is presented to the Adoption Panel. The assessing social worker will visit as required and the details of this should be set out in the Matching Agreement developed by the social worker with the prospective adopter/s following approval panel.

Approved adopters will be asked to be available for children from Adopt North East in need of an adoption. The Agency prioritises matching of Adopt North East adopters with children referred to it from its five partner Local Authorities (Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside and South Tyneside). Should a match not be identified within six months of approval, adopters are permitted to seek a match with an external child/ren needing adoption.

Approved adopters will also be informed of local support groups and training opportunities and be advised of their responsibility to maintain links with the adoption social worker and keep them informed of any significant changes in their situation. This should be detailed in the Matching Agreement.

All approved adopters will be subject to an updated Disclosure and Barring Service check every 12 months from approval, or as required.

2. Who must be Reviewed?

  • All prospective adopters whose approval is more than 1 year old and who do not have a child in placement must have a Review;
  • A review will also be undertaken if a significant change in the circumstances of the prospective adopters comes to the attention of the agency;
  • A Disruption in the care of a child placed for adoption;
  • A child protection investigation involving the adopters under s.47 Children Act 1989 or other significant safeguarding concern.

Reviews will be recorded on the Prospective Adopters Adoption Case Record.

3. When should Reviews take Place?

Reviews should take place whenever the adoption agency considers it necessary, but in any event not more than 1 year after the prospective adopters have been approved and at intervals of not more than 1 year thereafter until they have been matched with a child.

Changes in circumstances which are likely to warrant a review being carried out include:

  • Change of accommodation;
  • A change in family or household composition, whether as a result of an individual leaving or joining the household (e.g. as a consequence of separation, divorce, remarriage /cohabitation, the birth of a baby, taking on new caring responsibilities or providing accommodation to a relative, friend or lodger);
  • A significant change of employment or change of employer;
  • A significant change in financial circumstances;
  • A criminal offence committed by any member of the household;
  • A significant change in health.

Where a household has been approved for 2 years or more without a match, the Review will also require that the PAR is updated and the matter presented before Adoption Panel for consideration. This is to be done whether or not the agency is of the view that approval should continue.

Before the Review, the assessing social worker will notify the prospective adopters that a review is to take place, and request that they complete and return the Adopters Report 5 working days prior to the review.

The adopters' social worker will also complete a report prior to the Review, to be with the Team Manager no less than 3 working days prior to the review meeting. The adopters' social worker will be responsible for making the arrangements via the Team Manager for a reviewer to be allocated. The assessing social worker will arrange the appointment directly with the approved adopters.

In carrying out the Review, the agency can make enquiries and obtain whatever information it considers necessary. However, it must seek the views of the prospective adopter(s) and take these into account when making any decision.

4. Form the Review will take

The review will cover the following areas:

4.1 What has changed regarding the following since approval?

  1. Finances;
  2. Family or household composition;
  3. Work commitments;
  4. Health;
  5. Training / Learning.

Police and medical checks

  1. DBS checks that are more than 1 years old will have to be repeated (AAR 29.3);
  2. Where the Review has been triggered by a significant change in health a new medical check will be required. No new medical information is required for other changes.

4.3 Matches and family finding: What children have the prospective adopters been considered for?

  1. Why did the placement not go ahead?
  2. Should the range of child change?
  3. Agency's actions in family finding;
  4. Anything else that will need to happen before a child can be placed?
  5. Plan to progress family finding in the next 12 months.

4.4 Motivation

  1. What have the prospective adopters learnt from the adoption approval process in the past year?
  2. Is there anything new that has emerged for the adoption agency since the assessment?
  3. Has motivation changed?

4.5 Continuing suitability to adopt - recommendation

The Team Manager will record the main points of the meeting including the prospective adopters' views and send a copy to the prospective adopters within 10 working days, unless the Review has concluded that the adopters' continued approval should be referred to the Adoption Panel for consideration.

5. Where Prospective Adopters Remain Suitable to Adopt

The Team Manager will write to them within 5 working days confirming their approval and continuation by the Agency of Family Finding.

6. Where the Review Meeting Raises Questions About the Prospective Adopters' Continuing Suitability to Adopt

The report and the prospective adopters' views will be presented to the next available Adoption Panel.

Referral to the Adoption Panel

The adopters' social worker will inform the Panel Administrator that the prospective adopters' case is to be referred to the Adoption Panel. The Panel Administrator will arrange for the prospective adopters to be given written notification that their case will be referred to the Panel, and to be sent a copy of the Prospective Adopter's Review Report inviting them to make written observations on the report to the agency within 10 working days.

The Panel Administrator will arrange for the prospective adopter(s)' case to be tabled for consideration by the Adoption Panel at the next available opportunity, following the receipt of the prospective adopter(s)' observations or expiry of the 10 working days. The Panel Administrator will send a letter to the prospective adopter(s) (and a copy to their adopters' social worker) advising them of the date of the meeting and inviting them to attend.

The Panel Administrator will send the following documents to all panel members and the Agency Decision-Maker (Director of Children, Families and Schools) 5 working days in advance of the Panel meeting:

  • The Prospective Adopter's Report;
  • The Prospective Adopter's Review Report including recommendation regarding ongoing approval;
  • Any written observations received from the prospective adopter(s);
  • Updated medical report on the prospective adopter(s) (if appropriate);
  • Any other relevant information or reports as directed by the Agency Adviser.

7. Role of the Adoption and Permanence Panel in Prospective Adopter Reviews

The prospective adopter/s may attend the Panel.

The Panel will consider the report and make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker about the prospective adopters' continuing suitability to adopt.

The prospective adopters may at any time decide they no longer wish to adopt. They must do so to the Agency in writing. In this case, the Agency will inform the Panel and the matter will be withdrawn from consideration.

8. Making the Decision about Continuing Suitability to Adopt

The Panel will make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker.

The Agency Decision Maker will make a decision within 10 working days of the Adoption Panel recommendation whether or not the prospective adopters continue to be suitable to adopt a child.

9. Representations Procedure - Appealing Against an Unfavourable Review Decision

Where the Agency makes a qualifying determination that the prospective adopter is no longer suitable to adopt, the Agency Decision Maker will write to them within 10 working days.

The prospective adopters have 40 working days from their receipt of the notification of the agency decision to make any written representations or apply for a review by an Independent Review Panel.

N.B. The applicants should decide which representation procedure to choose. They cannot choose both.

If the prospective adopter does not make any written representations, the Agency will proceed with its decision. The Agency Decision Maker will write to the prospective adopters at the end of 40 days. The prospective adopters' name will be removed from the agency's list of approved adopters.

If the prospective adopter makes written representations, the Agency is not obliged to refer the case to the Adoption Panel but will normally do so. The Panel Administrator will write to the applicants giving them at least 7 days' notice of the Panel that will consider their representations and invite them to attend.

  • The applicants may be accompanied by a friend or supporter but may not be legally represented;
  • Where the applicant decides to represent their case in person, the Panel Chair will consider whether a smaller quorate sub group should consider the matter;
  • The Panel will consider the representations and make further recommendations to the Agency Decision Maker;
  • The Agency Decision Maker should make the final decision within 10 days of receiving the Panel recommendations;
  • Prospective adopters should receive the decision in writing within 10 working days of the final decision being made;
  • A copy of the decision with the reasons and minutes of the Panel meeting will be placed on the prospective adopters' case record.

If the applicant wishes their case to be referred to the Independent Review Panel.

If the applicant decides to refer the matter to an Independent Review, the Panel administrator will send the following documents to the Independent Review Panel as requested.

  • The relevant Panel reports;
  • The prospective adopter's views on the reports;
  • The Panel minutes including the record of the decision made with reasons;
  • Notification to the prospective adopter;
  • Any other information requested;
  • Any relevant information about the prospective adopters that the agency obtained after the above information and reports were passed to the Adoption Panel will also be sent.

The procedure for the Independent Review is carried out by CoramBAAF on behalf of the Department for Education.

The applicant will be invited to attend the Independent Review.

After considering the representations, the Independent Review may make a recommendation, which the Agency Decision Maker will consider before a final decision is made.

The Independent Review Panel cannot overturn the agency decision, as it does not have the power to do so.

The Agency Decision Maker will make the final decision and record the decision, together with reasons, within 10 working days of the receipt of the Independent Review recommendation. Written notice of the decision, together with reasons, will be given to the prospective adopters in writing within 10 working days.

Where the agency decision is different from the recommendation of the Independent Review Panel, the agency must also provide the prospective adopters with information about the Independent Panel's recommendation.

Where an Independent Review Panel has made a recommendation, the agency must send to the Independent Review Panel Administrator a copy of its decision on the prospective adopter's suitability to adopt.

A copy of the report to the Adoption Panel, the Adoption Panel's recommendation, the Independent Review Panel's recommendations and the decision to refuse an application must be retained on the applicant's Adoption Case Record.