Adopting through early permanence
What is Early Permanence?
Early Permanence – which is similar to ‘foster to adopt’ or 'the concurrency process' - is a route to adoption which involves fostering a baby or child prior to legally adopting them.
Early Permanence Placements (EPP) are 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.
These types of placements are particularly suitable for newborn or very young babies. The prospective adopter provides the short-term fostering placem
ent and will then go on to adopt the child if the court agrees the plan is for the child to be adopted.
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 in need of Fostering for Adoption.
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.
What are the benefits of Early Permanence?
Early Permanence is a child centred approach, it 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. This also enhances 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 and will have a deeper understanding of their life story.
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 court process is typically 26 weeks, around 6 months and can go on for slightly longer if there are delays with assessments
- The child may be placed before all the possibilities for the child to be cared for within the birth family and connected network, have been fully ruled out
- 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.
- The child is likely to continue to have ongoing contact with their birth parent(s) and possibly with wider birth family members up until the final court hearing. You are likely to be involved in supporting contact arrangements, possibly transporting the child to and from family time, until final orders are made, and contact begins to reduce. This might include virtual contact.
- While placing a child in a Fostering for Adoption placement is intended to avoid the disruption of the child’s attachment to their primary carer, until the Court authorises the child’s placement for adoption, the placement remains temporary.
- Fostering for Adoption carers have no legal rights over the child if their care plan changes and the child needs to be moved to an alternative placemen
Will I be entitled to adoption leave and pay from my employer?
Since April 2015, prospective adopters who foster their 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 Fostering to Adoption, 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, which will end when the placement becomes one of adoption.
Is Early Permanence right for me?
There will be a number of things you will need to think about in relation to Fostering for Adoption. 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. You will need to be mindful that you are not yet ‘mummy and daddy’.
It is very likely you will go on to adopt the child, but you will need to be able to manage the uncertainty of the potential outcomes. You will need to think about the possibility of the Court not agreeing a plan for adoption and the child leaving your care. If you already have a child, whether they are a birth or adopted child, you will need to consider the impact on them as well as yourselves if the child does not remain in your care. Preparation and support for other children in the home is essential.
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 Fostering for Adoption. 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 Fostering for Adoption placements to give you more of an idea of how this type of placement might impact on you and your family. Adoption Tees Valley also provide a one-day training event on Fostering for Adoption for prospective adopters.
If you’d like to learn more about some of the challenges and rewards of Early Permanence in general, you can listen to the experiences of other adopters via YouCanAdopt podcasts.
Are you a birth parent needing some guidance? Download our leaflet below.
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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 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. Although the placements will initially be made on a fostering basis, the long term plan includes adoption as one possibility, and the prospective carers therefore require full information about the baby or child’s parents’ health history and the potential implications for the child.
The prospective carers should also be provided with full information about the child’s background.
The care and experiences a child encounters in their first few months and years of life lay the foundations for their future development and emotional well-being. Therefore the majority of Early Permanence placements sought are for babies and very young children.
- 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 “contact” 2 or 3 times a week.
- To be willing to adopt the child if that is the path that is decided.
Yes you can. As an agency we have a lot of experience of adopters with children in the family who have taken the Early Permanence route to adoption.
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.
A carer may be dually 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.
FfA carers and CPP carers are also entitled to statutory adoption pay and statutory adoption leave from the time an EP placement is made. Many EP carers choose to save their adoption allowance to use once the Placement Order has been made and the placement becomes a pre-adoption placement. This will ensure that they have time to make practical arrangements for the child’s care and their own return to work.