Early Permanency Placements are for children who may not be able to be safely cared for by their birth parents and who need at least a short period in local authority care, are likely to need to be adopted, but who still have a chance of being reunited with their birth family.
The mainstream or traditional route to adoption can be an unsettling and disruptive time for young babies and children. The child is initially removed from their birth families due to significant concern regarding their safety and wellbeing. They are placed with temporary foster carers while social workers and other professionals work with and assess birth parents and other family members to see if the child can be safely cared for within the birth family. This can take several months and can lead to the child being moved around different foster carers while a decision is made about their future. The social workers will need to make recommendations to the court about the child’s future but it is the judge who will make the final decision based on detailed evidence. The child will be moved again to an adoptive family if the judge agrees that adoption is right for that child.
Early permanence placements seek to prevent the moves of placements for these very young children at a very sensitive time in their development and growth by placing the baby with an approved adopter who can foster the child while assessments and court proceedings are ongoing. So the prospective adopter will provide the short term fostering placement, sometimes for up to 12 months, and will then go on to adopt the child if the court agrees the plan for the child to be adopted and makes the appropriate legal order to allow this.
Early permanence will allow prospective adopters the opportunity to parent the baby from birth or soon after allowing them to be part of the baby’s life from the beginning. This will enable them to parent a child from an earlier age, therefore not missing key stages of the child’s development.
The carers in this route to adoption will need to be happy to be approved as foster carers as well as adopters as they will be fostering the child for the first phase of the placement when care/court proceedings and assessments of birth family are ongoing. The carers will need to be able to accept the uncertainty associated with this and be prepared to return the child to birth family if the court decides that is the best plan for the child’s future.
The child will be placed to live with the carers as early as possible often from birth so he/she will be able to experience stability from a much earlier age. The child will also be able to form secure relationships and attachments without disruption and frightening moves of placement even though uncertainty regarding their long term placement remains and is being considered by the courts.
It provides consistency for the child and avoids delays for their future, whether that is to remain with their Early Permanency Carer or to return to their birth family.
For a number of these children the court will decide that a return to their birth family is not possible. If that is the decision the child will remain with the carers and will be adopted by them. The carers will have the advantage of having cared for the child from a very young age. They may have also been in a special position where they have met the birth parents, possibly also through contact.
However, if the court decides that the birth parents or other members of the birth family are able to meet the needs of the child, the carers will be involved in helping the child to return to their birth family. This would of course be sad and upsetting for you but you can take some solace in the fact that you have given the child the love and security that they needed as well as helping them settle back with their family. The carers will then continue to receive support until they decide what they want to do next.
In order to help you achieve becoming a carer you will receive preparation training on adoption and specialised early permanency training. Your adoption assessment will concentrate very much on your motivation, resilience, support networks and ability to manage this specialised task. It will be a two way process in deciding whether this is the right choice for you.
Following your approval and placement of a child you will receive intensive support from your social worker and the child’s social worker this will involve a lot of social work visits as well as visits from other professionals. You will be entitled to a fostering allowance until the child is adopted or returned to the birth family and will need to attend several meetings about the child and his/her current and future care. You will need to discuss with your employer that you may need to take adoption leave at short notice.
Further information regarding Early Permanency Placements is available in the following downloads: