SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTERThis chapter outlines the role of the family finder and the family finding process.
The adoption family finding team attached to each local authority is available to provide advice and support with regard to family finding issues, at any point during care proceedings. Family finders will work in collaboration with children's social workers based in the local authority and children's social workers and managers will be able to access support and advice about adoption and care planning for children including issues such as sibling assessments, contact etc.
One Adoption will be informed of all children 8 years or under (exceptionally up to the age of 10 years) who are subject to the pre proceedings stage of the PLO. The family finding Team Manager or Advanced Practitioner will attend local authority case tracking meetings to identify any cases for tracking and allocation where there is a likelihood of an adoption plan or possible Early Permanence Placement (EPP) and to facilitate the involvement of the One Adoption family finding service with the children's social work service in the Care Planning process.
Where it is clear that adoption is the likely plan for a child and, where possible before the SHOBPA decision has been made, a family finding worker will be allocated to commence the family finding process.
Early Permanence Placements will be considered and encouraged where appropriate across the local authorities to increase the number of these placements made.
A family finder will be allocated when care proceedings are initiated and parents and connected person's assessments are likely to be negative. They will work alongside the local authority social worker to achieve timely, well planned adoption placements for children.
The family finder will be able to offer ongoing guidance about:
The family finder will meet with the social worker, before SHOBPA where possible, to gather information about the child and agree a family finding plan. They will complete the profile of the child and Family Finding Plan of Action (Initial Meeting). They will advise about any preparation work to be undertaken with the child and meet the child and the current carer.
The family finding plan will be reviewed every 3 months.
It is important that the child's social worker updates the family finder on relevant case activity and informs the family finder as soon as the Placement Order is made.
Children will be referred to One Adoption's Regional Placement Group in the first instance, to establish whether there are any suitable families approved or in assessment who could meet the needs of the child. If there are, these families should be shortlisted by the family finder with a view to arranging a visit with the adopter's worker and the child's social worker to the family who appear to offer the best match.
In the majority of cases in house families will meet the needs of children.
If there are no appropriate families for the child currently or nearing approval the family finder will submit a request to the SDM for an external placement using an external placement request form.
Once authorised by the SDM the family finder will undertake family finding activity within the wider region and nationally without delay using Link Maker and a range of local, regional and national profiling events and exchange days.
The family finder will be the proactive person in identifying possible links for the child's social worker to consider. They will highlight strengths and weaknesses in any potential match and will agree in discussion with the social workers and their respective managers which match to pursue. The family finder will forward the child's profile to the agency and then agree an exchange of the CPR & PAR.
If a match is identified the family finder and social worker will visit the prospective adopters together and liaise with their worker. It is important at this stage, that a copy of the approval panel minutes are requested from the approving agency and that confirmation is sought that the adopter's checks and medicals are in date.
Following the visit a matching discussion should be held, to clearly identify the strengths and vulnerabilities of the match and to record a decision about moving forward or not with a proposed match and to agree the task to be undertaken before the match is presented to the Adoption Panel. A collaborative approach will be taken to ensure the submission of matching reports for Adoption Panel. Where a family finder is involved then they generally take the lead in providing the information on the child and the R&A worker will provide information on the adopter. However, where there is no family finder the child's social worker is responsible for the child's information.
The One adoption social worker involved in the match will oversee and drive a timescale of 5 weeks (maximum) from the confirming the match is proceeding to date of matching panel.
Life appreciation days will generally be held for children with complex needs and those over the age of 18 months old to ensure that all information is shared with prospective adopters. Adoption Advisors will take the lead on organising life appreciation days with support from Business Support officers. One Adoption social workers will generally chair these.
In all situations key meetings with medical advisors, foster carers/contact supervisors would generally be arranged with prospective adopters to share information prior to the placement of a child.
For children with complex needs and interagency placements there will be a Matching Meeting to consider the needs of the child, the strengths and vulnerabilities of the carers in relation to these and draw this together by considering the specific support needs of the placement.
Child focused and individual support plans will be agreed at the point of the matching panel, and adoption support fund applications will be progressed and overseen by the One Adoption social worker progressing the match ( e.g. family finder or, if in house, R & A social worker generally). The responsibility for reviewing adoption support funds applications will move over to the adoption support team once an order has been made or if there are exceptional circumstances.(which should be confirmed in the APR).
Important issues for the family finder to be supporting the child's social worker with in the pre matching stage include:
One Adoption Panel business support will require the following paperwork 14 working days prior to the panel date:
Where possible the family finder should attend panel for the match, along with the child's social worker and the adoption worker.
Following the agency decision a date will be set for the placement planning meeting to take place.
The family finder will advise on placement planning arrangements and plans for introductions and will prepare a draft plan of introductions, making sure these have been circulated to everyone in advance, including the foster carers, so that their views can be considered.
In consultation with the social worker and the adoption worker, the family finder will prepare the draft Adoption Placement Plan, in advance of the placement planning meeting.
With in-house placements the adopter's worker will normally chair the planning and midway review meeting. They will ensure that the Adoption Placement Plan is completed and passed to adoption business support staff so that the statutory notifications can be sent out.
With inter-agency placements the adoption team manager or family finder will undertake this role, with the adoption team manager signing the IA (financial arrangements form) if required.
The family finder will attend the placement planning meeting, give adopters copies of mileage and expense forms and provide copies of the matching certificate.
Completed expense forms need to returned to the family finder as soon as possible and they will arrange for these to be approved and forwarded for reimbursement.
There are a range of family finding activities which can be utilised, depending on the child's specific circumstances; these can be discussed and agreed as part of the family finding strategy.
Arrangements will be made for a professional photograph to be taken and a profile of the child will be completed, in conjunction with the social worker. This will be used to circulate to other agencies and at family finding events.
It is possible for a professional DVD to be recorded of children waiting for adoption; however this needs to be agreed by the adoption team manager.
All children are referred to Linkmaker when active family finding begins.
One Adoption arrange regular profiling events for children throughout the year and invite adopters from One Adoption and other local adoption agencies to see information and DVDs of children waiting for adoption.
Where appropriate we will involve children in Adoption Activity Days, organised through CoramBAAF and consider a range of more creative family finding opportunities to specifically family find for children who wait longer.
The family finder will forward the Family Finding Plan to the child's social worker after the initial meeting for the social worker to upload to the child's electronic record and thereafter will provide regular verbal and written updates to the social worker. It is the social worker's responsibility to ensure this recording is on the Child's record.
One Adoption family finding will be recorded on Mosaic using the tracking sheet and case notes to provide a full running record of all family finding activity.
The family finder will complete a regular 3 monthly summary of family finding activity, which will be sent to the child's social worker for them to upload onto the child's electronic case record.
The child's social worker will visit the placement within 1 week of the child being placed, in exceptional circumstances the child's social worker will be present on moving day.
Once the child is placed the allocated family finder will withdraw but remain a point of contact regarding support planning until the adoption order is made.
The One Adoption worker, whether the Family Finder or R&A worker may assist with facilitating a meeting between the birth family and adopters.
The One Adoption worker will highlight the need for the Life Story Book and Later Life letter to be completed in a timely way. Where these are delayed the family finder will escalate concern via the IRO and their manager.