Review of Prospective Adopters

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure sets out the process for the review of prospective adopters, including when a review should take place, the form the review will take and outcomes of reviews, including when a prospective adopter wishes to have the decision of the Adoption Panel referred to the Independent Review Mechanism.

AMENDMENT

In June 2021, this guidance was reviewed and updated.

1. Introduction

Matching Agreement undertaken by the social worker with the prospective adopter/s following approval panel.

Approved adopters will be asked to be available for children from One Adoption West Yorkshire in need of an adoption. Prospective adopters should be placed on link maker with access to profiles of OAWY children, usually from mid-way through Stage Two . Whilst we endeavour to match One Adoption West Yorkshire families with One Adoption West Yorkshire children, families are not prevented from expanding to look for children outside West Yorkshire after a period of 3 months.

They 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 Disclosure and Barring Service checks every 3 years, local authority checks every 3 years and update medicals after 2 years; full medicals after 4 years.

2. Who must be Reviewed? (Adoption Agencies Regulation 29)

  • 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 notice of the agency;
  • Where a family is on hold at the time their review is due, this will need to take place when the on hold period is coming to an end before family finding resumes.

Reviews will be recorded on the agency’s file storage program.

3. When should Reviews take Place?

Reviews should take place whenever the adoption agency considers it necessary (for example because of a change in the prospective adopter's circumstances), 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 address;
  • A change in family 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);
  • Changes in employment;
  • Criminal offences committed by any member of the household;
  • Change in health;
  • Child protection or safeguarding, concerns, or childcare concerns being raised in respect of any member of the family.

It is important to note that the purpose of the review is not to re-approve.

Where a household has been approved for 2 years, the review will be carried out in the same way, with the addition of the PAR being updated and the matter being presented to Adoption Panel for consideration. This is to be done whether or not the agency is of the view that approval should continue. Only the social worker need attend where the recommendation is for continued approval.

Before a review, the adoption social worker will notify the prospective adopters that a review is to take place, and request that they complete and return the consultation questionnaire 1 to 2 weeks prior to the review date.

The allocated social worker will also complete a form prior to the review, to be with the reviewer no less than 3 days prior to the review meeting. The allocated social worker will be responsible for making the arrangements via the Team Manager for a reviewer to be allocated. The reviewer 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

A Recruitment and Assessment Adoption Team Manager will arrange for a worker from the agency to visit the prospective adopters without the assessing social worker. The reviewer will not be the allocated worker; it may be another social worker from the team, the Advanced Practitioner or the Team Manager. The adoption agency may also make any additional enquiries it considers necessary. The prospective adopter's views will be an important part of the review.

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.

4.2 Police, medical and local authority checks

  1. DBS checks that are more than 3years old will have to be repeated (AAR 29.3 a);
  2. Health - These should be updated two years from the date of the GP appointment or in response to changes. Full medicals are required every 4 years;
  3. Local Authority checks should be renewed every 3 years.

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

  1. Why did the link / match not go ahead?
  2. Should the range of child/ren 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. What additional learning / training has taken place?

4.5 Continuing suitability to adopt - recommendation

The reviewer will record the main points of the meeting including the prospective adopters' views and send a copy to the prospective adopters within 2 working weeks, and, if going to Adoption Panel, 10 days prior to cut off date for the panel in question.

5. Where Prospective Adopters Remain Suitable to Adopt

The Team Manager will write to the prospective adopters within 7 calendar days confirming their approval and continuation of family finding. Where a review has been via Adoption Panel, The ADM will write.

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, regardless of the timescale since approval.

The social worker for the family will inform the Panel administration team (Adoption.Panel.Admin@oneadoptionwy.leeds.gov.uk) that the prospective adopters' case is to be referred to the Adoption Panel and book a date. The Panel administrator will arrange for the prospective adopters to be given written notification that their case will be referred to the Panel.

Prospective adopters will be invited to attend this panel.

The Panel administrator will send the following documents to all panel members and the Agency Decision-Maker (Director of Children, Families and Schools) 7 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 applicable;
  • Any other relevant information or reports as directed by the agency adviser.

7. Role of the Adoption Panel in Prospective Adopter Reviews

As detailed above, where recommendations are to continue approval, prospective adopters do not need to attend. Where there is a question regarding ongoing approval, prospective adopters are encouraged to attend.

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, in which case the agency will inform the Panel.

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 7 calendar days of the receipt of the minutes for the Adoption Panel recommendation whether or not the prospective adopters continue to be suitable to adopt a child.

The agency will notify the prospective adopters of its decision orally within 2 working days and in writing within 5 working days of the agency decision.

9. Representations Procedure - Appealing Against an Unfavourable Review Decision

The prospective adopters have 40 working days from their receipt of the notification of the agency decision to make any representation 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 representation, 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 asks their case to be heard again by the Adoption Panel, the agency must consider the recommendations before making its final decision.

The agency is not obliged to refer the case to the Adoption Panel but would 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 7 days of receiving the Panel recommendations;
  • Prospective adopters should receive the decision in writing within 5 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 decides to refer the matter to an Independent Review, the Panel administrator will send the following documents to the Independent Review Panel within 10 working days.

  • 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 prospective adopters 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 7 working days of the receipt of the Independent Review recommendation. Written notice of the decision, together with reasons, will be sent to the prospective adopters orally within 2 working days and in writing within 7 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.