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3.1.4 Permanency Policy and Permanence Planning Procedure

RELATED CHAPTERS

Kinship Care Policy

Fostering for Adoption, Concurrent Planning and Temporary Approval as Foster Carers of Approved Prospective Adopters Procedure

Permanence Planning Guidance

AMENDMENT

Revisions were made to this chapter in October 2015 but the chapter remains under review.

This chapter is currently under review.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Policy and Principles of the Policy
  3. Planning
  4. Permanency Planning Meetings
  5. Presentation to Adoption and Permanency Panel


1. Introduction

1.1 Hillingdon is committed to ensuring that all children in its care are given the opportunity to live safely and securely in a family. Where this cannot be achieved within birth families, we will, through effective child care planning and monitoring, ensure that alternative families are found to meet the needs of each child as speedily as possible.
1.2 Hillingdon's permanency policy is based on the 10 principles set out in Section 2. It incorporates the National Adoption Standards and Regulations for England and the principles and values contained in the Children Act s1989 and 2004, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
1.3 At all stages, children must have:
  • Their wishes and feelings taken into account;
  • Their contact arrangements with their birth family clarified, including plans for reviewing the arrangements;
  • Support services available to meet their assessed needs;
  • Readily available assistance in the event of difficulties or placement breakdown;
  • Information about how to make complaints or representations if required and how to access advocacy services.


2. Policy and Principles of the Policy

2.1
  • It is the fundamental right of every child to belong to a family;
  • Every child must have his or her wishes and feelings listened to, recorded and taken into account in decision making and planning;
  • Every effort must be made to recruit sufficient permanent families from diverse backgrounds to meet children's needs;
  • Every effort must be made to find families that reflect the ethnic origin, cultural background, religion and language of the children concerned;
  • Every effort must be made to allow children to live with their siblings unless this is not in their assessed best interests;
  • Every effort must be made to ensure that, where possible and appropriate, links between the children and their birth families are maintained.
2.2 Where children cannot live with their birth or extended family, there is a duty to provide an alternative permanent home. This must be within a family environment unless there are significant needs that cannot be met within a family placement.
2.3 Every child is a unique individual and their individuality must be taken into account when planning all aspects of their needs, identity and wishes.
2.4 Sibling groups must be placed together unless there are clear indications that this is not in the interest of the individual child and/or a placement could not be achieved within a reasonable time-scale.
2.5 Staff must attempt to work in partnership wherever possible with the child’s birth and extended family, to ensure the long term well being of the child in their permanent placement.
2.6 All children must have a permanency plan where a decision has been made that they cannot live with their birth or extended family.
2.7 Adoption or Special Guardianship must be considered as the preferred option for all looked after children under 12 years needing permanent homes.
2.8 When a child is placed in a permanent alternative home through adoption, fostering or by means of a Special Guardianship Order or a Child Arrangements Order, an assessment must be made of their need for continued support, to ensure the future stability of the placement.
2.9 Twin Track/Parallel Planning must be considered for children where an assessment has identified that their parents may be unlikely to achieve or sustain the necessary changes in their parenting on their children’s behalf.


3. Planning

3.1 Planning must underpin all child care decisions. An Assessment of all looked after children must be completed by the child's second Looked After Review (held at 4 months). This will include an assessment of the child's permanency needs - see Permanence Planning Guidance.
3.2 This includes unaccompanied asylum seeking young people for whom Hillingdon has a responsibility under the Children Act 1989.
3.3 The Assessment will inform the child's Permanency Plan which should be considered at the second Looked After Review, when clear timescales must be set for the implementation of the plan, whether it is for the child's return home, preparation for independence or for permanency through adoption, fostering, a Child Arrangements Order or a Special Guardianship Order. The implementation of the plan will be monitored by the Safeguarding and Quality Assurance Service - see Looked After Reviews Procedure for further details as to the monitoring role of the Independent Reviewing Officer.
3.4 Once the Permanency Plan is agreed, where it provides for the child's permanent placement away from his or her birth parents, the plan will need to be presented to the Adoption and Permanency Panel and Agency Decision Maker. The child's social worker must immediately start the preparation of the Child's Permanence Report for this purpose - see Section 5, Presentation to Adoption and Permanency Panel.
3.5 After the second Looked After Review, the child's social worker must make an immediate referral to the Adoption and Permanency Team for all children where:
  • The child cannot be returned to his or her birth parents;
  • There is a high likelihood that a permanent placement away from the birth family will be required (including as part of a Twin Track Plan);
  • The child was under 12 when he or she became looked after;
  • Hillingdon shares Parental Responsibility for the child and/or the child is the subject of Care Proceedings;
  • A family finding service is requested.

The child's social worker will be expected to convene a Needs Meeting for the purpose of drawing up a profile of the child including information about the child's wishes and needs in relation to the placement. The Needs Meeting will involve the carer, the carer's supervising social worker, the parents (if appropriate) and the family finder.

The Adoption and Permanency Team Manager will be responsible for convening a Permanency Planning Meeting in appropriate cases - see Section 4, Permanency Planning Meetings.
3.6

Encouragement and support should be given to long-term carers to seek a Special Guardianship Order or a Child Arrangements Order. This should include discussions about financial support through Special Guardianship Support - or a Child Arrangement Order Allowance - see Child Arrangement Order and Child Arrangement Order Allowance Procedure for more information. These issues should be raised at all Looked After Reviews and Foster Carer Reviews - see Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers Procedure.

3.7

Siblings

Where a permanency decision has been made for a sibling group, consideration as to the individual needs of each child and placement time-scales will be made at the Permanency Planning Meeting - see Section 4, Permanency Planning Meetings.

3.8

Contact

Maintaining links with birth families is an essential issue to consider for all children. If established, contact arrangements must ensure that the frequency and balance of contact reflects the needs of the child and contributes overall to the stability of the placement.

Maintaining links with birth families can occur in a number of ways and can include face-to-face contact, letter contact (letterbox), sibling contact and family meetings.

An assessment of the contact needs of a child must be included in all Permanency Plans and issues concerning contact must be considered at the Permanency Planning Meetings and discussed fully with birth families. Arrangements for reviewing contact arrangements must also be included in the Permanency Plan.


4. Permanency Planning Meetings

4.1 A Permanency Planning Meeting will be convened by the Adoption and Permanency Team Manager where there is a need to identify a family for a child (family finding) or the child was under 12 at the point of becoming looked after.
4.2 The meeting will be convened within two weeks of the receipt by the Adoption and Permanency Team of the social worker's referral. The Adoption and Permanency Team Manager/Assistant Team Manager will chair the meeting.
4.3 Other invitees will be the child's social worker and his or her supervisor, the allocated family finding worker, the child's foster carer and the carer's supervising social worker. The family finding social worker will be responsible for taking minutes and circulating copies to the participants.
4.4 The purpose of the Permanency Planning Meeting is to plan the steps required to implement the child's Permanency Plan, including the assessments of carers for Child Arrangement Orders/Special Guardianship Orders/permanent fostering.
4.5 Thereafter Permanency Planning Meetings will be held every 6 weeks until the Permanency Plan is implemented.


5. Presentation to Adoption and Permanency Panel

5.1

Where the child is under 14 years old the Permanency Plans not in the Court arena which provide for the child's permanent placement away from his or her birth parents must be presented to the Adoption and Fostering Panel within 2 months of the Looked After Review which agreed the plan. It is the responsibility of the child's social worker to prepare a Child's Permanence Report for this purpose. In relation to the proposed carers, their Form F will need to be presented to the Panel (recommending their suitability as permanent carers). The reports need to set out why the proposed match is recommended for the particular child.

Where the child is aged 14 years or over these are not required to go to the Adoption and Fostering Panel, however, a report(s) addressing the registration of the carer, the needs of the young person in the short and long term and how the proposed foster carer will meet these needs, should be considered as part of the review process, agreed by the IRO and their recommendation will then go to the Agency Decision Maker for their agreement.

Where adoption is the plan, with effect from 1 September 2012, cases where the criteria apply for the local authority to apply for a Placement Order, i.e. the child is the subject of a Care Order or the Threshold Criteria for a Care Order are satisfied or where there is no parent or guardian, will not be referred to the Adoption and Permanency Panel for a recommendation, but will be referred directly to the Agency Decision Maker for a decision. All other cases (i.e. where the parents have given consent and there is no application for a Placement Order) will continue to be referred to the Adoption and Permanency Panel for a recommendation, which the Agency Decision Maker will take into account when making a decision.

For the specific procedures where adoption is the plan, see Placement for Adoption Procedure.

Where permanent fostering is the plan, see Placement in Foster Care Procedure.
5.2 Where the Permanency Plan provides for the child's placement with a private or voluntary provider, the approval of the Access to Resources Panel must be obtained before the proposed match is presented to the Adoption and Permanency Panel - see Financial Agreement in Children's Placements and the Role of the Access to Resources Panel Procedure.

End