Are you a birth parent needing some guidance? Download our leaflet below.
What is Early Permanence?
Early Permanence – formally known as ‘foster to adopt’ or 'concurrent planning' - is a potential route to adoption which involves fostering a baby or child prior to legally adopting them.
Early Permanence is for children who may be unable to be safely cared for by their birth parents who need at least a short period in local authority care whilst the court makes a decision on the plan for a child. It is likely that the child will need to be adopted, but there is still a chance of them being reunited with their birth family.
We work in partnership with Local Authorities within our Region to place children with prospective adopters who are temporarily approved as foster carers for that child.
Adoption Tees Valley provide preparation and training specifically for prospective adopters for children with a plan of early permanence.
Adoption Tees Valley have received the Early Permanence Quality Mark, this is the standard of excellence awarded to adoption agencies that demonstrate the quality of their service, and their commitment to delivering early permanence for children where adoption is in their best interest.
The court process is typically 26 weeks, around 6 months and can go on for slightly longer if there are delays with assessments.
The video below explores early permanence and features a number of families who have been early permanence carers.
What are the benefits of Early Permanence?
- Early Permanence is a child-centred approach
- Early Permanence allows for a child to be placed with their carers at the earliest possible stage, giving children stability at a sensitive time in their development and growth by reducing moves between carers.
- Less moves within the care system increase the likelihood of the child developing a secure attachment.
- The potential disruption and trauma to the child, caused by having to separate from their foster carer(s) to whom they have become attached, is reduced.
- The carer(s) will be part of the child’s early life experiences, will build a relationship with birth family which will support a deeper understanding of their life story.
- Preparation and support for your family including birth children will be available.
- Adoption Tees Valley offers early permanence training and support to all carers.
What are the challenges?
- The child is very likely to be placed before all the assessments of the birth parent(s) have been fully completed and before the final care plan is known. At this point the Local Authority cannot predict the final decision of the Court
- The information available about the child at the point of them being placed with you is likely to be limited and will not be as full as that which you would have access to traditionally at the point of matching. This means the child’s individual needs may not be fully known at the point of them being placed.
- Early Permanence carers have no legal rights over the child.
- If the court decides adoption is not the final care plan and carers are expected to support reunification with birth family.
Will I be entitled to adoption leave and pay from my employer?
Since April 2015, prospective adopters who foster a child prior to adopting them are eligible for adoption leave and pay, click here to read Government guidance. It is likely you will be required to leave work at short notice if you have a child placed with you through Early Permeance, and therefore you will need to have supportive employers.
As a foster carer, you will be entitled to a fostering allowance from the Local Authority responsible for placing the child.
Is Early Permanence right for me?
Early Permanence is a child-centred approach.
There will be a number of things you will need to think about in relation to Early Permanence. Initially, as a foster carer, you are caring for the child under the direct supervision of the Local Authority so you will need to consider whether this is something with which you are comfortable, primarily the fact that you will not be able to regard the child as your own.
It is important for you to consider what support you might need around you and how you typically deal with stressful or painful situations – there are specific issues about preparing for the period of uncertainty in the fostering phase of Early Permanence. You will be encouraged to discuss this with your family members and close friends. Members of your network may have questions and views themselves, but they also need to be a reliable source of support for you.
As there will be ongoing social work visits, and possible birth family contact, the geographical location of the placement will need to be taken into consideration and balanced against the risk of proximity to birth family. The child’s needs will be central to decision making around placement location.
You can discuss all of the implications with your assessing social worker during your home study and there will be information available during the preparation stage as you journey towards becoming an adoptive parent. It can be arranged for you to talk to other adopters who have provided Early Permanence placements to give you more of an idea of how this type of placement might impact on you and your family.
If you’d like to learn more about Early Permanence in general, you can listen to the experiences of other adopters via YouCanAdopt podcasts.
Click any question to reveal the answer
Early Permanence is a route to adoption which involves a child/ children being placed with prospective adopters, who are also approved as temporary foster carers. Whilst Early Permanence is often associated with babies, it can also be used for older children and sibling groups. This enables children to be looked after by early permanence carers whilst the family court determines whether the best thing for the child is to be adopted, or return to their birth family. For the child this provides the much-needed care and stability, and building of relationships at the earliest stage
Early Permanence is a way of providing stability for a child. It is aimed at reducing moves and delay for children, ensuring that children are placed in what is likely to be their “forever” home earlier. This provides consistency and stability for them at an earlier stage which means that they can start to put down roots and settle. Children who experience inconsistency can struggle in all aspects of their lives- Early Permanence can make a big difference in their formative years. It is centred around the child and aimed to minimise change and create stability at a time when they are at their most vulnerable.
There are benefits for children having early permanence placements as well as for you as a prospective adoptive parent.
- The child will benefit from stability and continuity of care from the earliest possible stage, avoiding the possibility of multiple family placements and possible placement breakdowns.
- Early Permanence enables early bonds to be made and early attachment needs to be met.
- It allows for a permanent home to be found for the child as early as possible, with research showing that risks of developmental and behavioural difficulties lessen the earlier the child is placed with permanent carers.
- Early Permanence enables the early development of forming a secure attachment to their primary care giver.
For you (as a foster carer and prospective adopter)
- You will provide early stability, love and care to a baby or child, in a time of their life where they are extremely vulnerable. Regardless of the court outcome, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you have played a very important role.
- You will get to know the child sooner and if you do go on to adopt them you will have already established a bond and will be able to share early memories with them.
- There is the possibility of having a very young baby placed with you, even straight from hospital.
- You will get to know the birth family better through 'family time' contact sessions, which will give you a better understanding of a child’s birth family and history.
- You will be able to talk more meaningfully with the child about their birth family, and offer them real insight into their early experiences.
- Potentially develop relationships which can form the basis for meaningful contact in the future if it is deemed appropriate and all parties agree.
In all cases, the court decides whether the child should return to his or her family or be adopted on the basis of all the evidence presented by the professionals and the family.
Selecting a placement is a two way process. The agency must be satisfied that the prospective EP carers understand the child’s situation and are in a position to meet the child’s needs, both in the long term and the short term. Although formal matching will not take place until after the court has made a Placement Order, the social worker still needs to consider long term issues when selecting an early permanence placement. At the same time, carers need to consider the needs of a particular child and decide whether they feel able to meet those needs, in both the short and potentially long term.
When full information is not always readily available about the child, we endeavour to give as much information as we have to enable you to make decisions to be matched as an early permanence carer for this child.
An Early Permanence placement can be considered for a child of any age.
- To be emotionally robust and resilient, to cope with a level of uncertainty about the child’s future.
- To be able to cope with loss and have resolved losses in their own lives.
- To act as a foster carer and work with the birth family whilst looking after the child. This may involve meeting birth parents at family time.
- To be willing to adopt the child if that is the plan that is decided by the court.
Yes you can.
Yes you can. Again we have experience of single adopters offering Early Permanence. As for all adopters you will need a very strong and helpful support network.
An Early Permanence carer is approved as a foster carer and an adopter, or approved as an adopter and additionally have been approved by the Agency Decision Maker on a temporary basis as the foster carer for a particular child. In both cases the local authority is required to pay the fostering fee in accordance with agreed rates. Fees payable start from £159 per week.
Early Permanence carers are also entitled to statutory adoption pay and statutory adoption leave from the time an EP placement is made, as well as a fostering fee.
The process to becoming an Early Permanence carer is very similar to becoming an adopter. You will be prepared and assessed as an adopter through an assessment with a social worker, where they will get to know you and you will consider what will be the best for you and your family. In addition your assessment will include additional training, preparing you to manage the fostering role and the uncertainty if the decision was made that a child would return to their family. The assessment will explore whether Early Permanence is the right route for you, and this will be agreed as part of your approval to be a prospective adopter. If selected for an Early Permanence placement you will be temporarily approved as a foster carer by the child’s placing Local Authority.
An Early Permanence placement can be considered for a child of any age.
We hold regular information events to talk about routes to adopting, including Early Permanence, where we would be happy to answer any questions. The events are optional, but we would encourage you to come along, meet the team and find out more.
Don't worry if you can't make any of the dates, just contact us on the below number or complete the enquiry form on our website and a member of our team will be in touch.