New practical guidance has been published today to help local authorities implement ‘Fostering for Adoption’ with the aim of ensuring more children can live with their potential permanent carers at the earliest possible stage of the adoption process.
The guidance, commissioned by UK children’s charity Coram and written by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, has been produced for social workers, agency decision makers and all involved in permanence planning.
Fostering for Adoption, which is among a range of new measures from the Department for Education to improve fostering and adoption, allows those who want to adopt children to foster them while they are waiting for the court to decide if adoption is the right plan for the child. This would provide continuity of care for the child, as they would not have to be placed with temporary foster carers. Funded by the Department for Education, the guidance sets out the principles of Fostering for Adoption, the situations where it could apply, and what those involved need to do to ensure it works well.
An accompanying leaflet ‘Becoming a Fostering for Adoption Carer’ explains how potential carers can decide if the process is right for them.
Renuka Jeyarajah-Dent, Coram’s Director of Operations and Programme Lead for the Coram Centre for Early Permanence, said:
“This voluntary guidance aims to offer a balanced approach, explaining where Fostering for Adoption fits into the changing landscape of delivery. Its practice employs the same principles of early placement as concurrent planning, which Coram has pioneered since 1999.
“The guidance recognises that the legal rights of the birth parents and child’s extended family, who may wish to put themselves forward as permanent carers, are considered at every stage of the decision-making processes affecting the child. It also highlights the need to ensure appropriate support for potential adopters in the role of foster carers to help them understand their role and the legal uncertainties involved.
“We hope this will be a useful voluntary aid to this emerging area of adoption policy and practice. It is not without its challenges, but it is vital to get it right for looked after children and avoid unnecessary delay in achieving the stability, security, love and sense of identity and belonging that permanence brings.”
John Simmonds, Director of Policy, Research & Development at the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, said:
“The current arrangements expect children to move from placement to placement until a permanent family is found, despite everything that suggests that this is damaging to children.
“Fostering for Adoption is intended to minimise these moves and the damage it causes. The publication of this guidance sets out how this can be achieved as a fair, evidence based and just solution – it is a child centred opportunity that is not to be missed.”
The guidance and accompanying leaflet can be found on Coram’s website here and at BAAF’s website here. People interested in finding out more about becoming Fostering for Adoption carers can contact the adoption information service First4Adoption on 0300 222 0022 or visit www.first4adoption.org.uk.