Approval Process for Prospective Adopters
From the very first time you consider the thought of adoption you begin the adoption process; an exploration of whether this is the right option for you and the steps that you will need to take to reach the final destination of building your family.
The ARC Adoption North East team will help and support you every step of the way and ensure that you are fully involved and engaged in any decisions made through your journey.
Since 2013 the formal approval process has been split into two stages:
Stage 1 starts after you have received some general information, received a home visit and ARC Adoption North East is in a position to accept a ‘registration of interest’ from you. Stage 1 should be no longer than two months and is led by you.
A ‘stage one plan’ is drawn up by the allocated adoption worker. The worker will provide some individual preparation and help you to identify your learning needs. You will then be guided to direct your own learning programme through research and using online learning materials/articles at a speed which suits you.
During this stage, initial group training takes place; this is our information and counselling course. The information sessions are arranged at times that are suitable to the majority of the group and by negotiation. They take place on two weekday evenings and one weekend. The venue used is comfortable, welcoming and accessible. It is located near public transport systems and is suitable for those with a disability.
You will be fully supported throughout the process and particularly during the more formal initial training at stage 1 and the intensive training at Stage 2. The two courses cover the following topics:
- Attachment, separation, loss, child development and caring for abused children
- Health issues of adopted children
- Post adoption contact.(Including Social Networking)
- Legal aspects of adoption
- Children who require adoption (Be My Parent, Children Who Wait)
- Assessment process, approval & matching process and support for adopters
The sessions also give you an opportunity to meet with other prospective adopters and also experienced adopters, birth relatives, an adopted adult, a child care social worker and a paediatrician who are happy to answer any questions you may have.
Statutory checks are undertaken at this stage. Three references are taken up (only one of which can be a family member), a DBS disclosure is sought, Local Authority and NSPCC checks are undertaken and you need to make arrangements to have a medical.
Stage 1 ends when the agency receives all of the checks and references and considers that you are ‘suitable to proceed to Stage 2’.
You will be notified of this in writing. If for some reason you are not deemed suitable a written explanation will be given to you along with a copy of the agency’s complaints procedure. If we feel that you are suitable to progress to Stage 2, you will be provided with a ‘Wish to Proceed Form’ which you need to return to us within 6 months.
Stage 2 commences when the ‘Wish to Proceed Form’ is received by us.
This stage must be completed within four months and involves intensive training and a home study assessment. The assessing adoption worker will draw up a ‘stage two plan’ around the assessment and will visit you in your home to complete the assessment report.
The intensive training provided at this stage is again over two weekday evenings and one weekend.
The work undertaken during this part of the process is documented on a Prospective Adopters Report (PAR)
The content of the PAR will reflect discussions on the subjects listed below along with an analysis by the assessing adoption social worker.
- Applicants Details
- Matching Considerations
- Verification of Identity, Career History, Outcome of Agency Enquiries – taken at Stage one
- Health Issues
- Personal References- taken at Stage 1
- Applicants background, education, employment, hobbies/interests
- Relationships, past and present and the stability of any current relationship
- Support Networks
- If applicable, children in the household
- If applicable, other adults in the household
- Childlessness/limitation of family size/Motivation to adopt
- Valuing Diversity
- Parenting Capacity
- Financial Considerations
- Placement Considerations
- Post Adoption Support Requirements
You will be asked to contribute to certain parts of the assessment document yourselves and be fully involved in preparing all aspects of the report.
If you have a previous partner, and there were children in that relationship, then the former partner will need to be contacted unless doing so would be detrimental to you, the children or any adopted child.
When all of the planned visits have been completed the report (PAR) is compiled by the assessing adoption social worker.
You will be provided with a copy of the Prospective Adopters Report and given up to 5 working days to consider it and make any comments.
At this point you will be contacted by a senior manager who will arrange to visit you to discuss your experience with ARC Adoption North East and to explain the Panel process. We call this a quality assurance visit and it helps us to continually improve the service we offer to prospective adopters.
Once you have indicated that you are happy with the report or have forwarded any comments or the five days are up, the assessment report will be presented to the Adoption Panel.
An assessment of your likely post-adoption support needs is also conducted and included in the Prospective Adopters Report.
Stage 2 ends when the agency decision is made and you are approved or not approved.
Once approved information about the adoption register will be provided to you. If for any reason you are not approved you may make representation to the agency; ask for your case to be reviewed by the IRM or raise concerns with Gateway. You will be provided with all the information you need to support you in doing this if it is required.
Adoption Panel and Post Panel Process
Following completion of the home study assessment, your case will be presented to the Adoption Panel.
All prospective adopters are invited to attend the Panel that considers their application. Your attendance at Panel is not mandatory, though we encourage people to attend and be part of the complete process. However if you chose not to this decision will not prejudice consideration of your case.
The Panel is an experienced group of people drawn from a Central List. It has an independent Chairperson with experience of adoption matters. There are representatives from the social work profession, a medical adviser, and a number of independent members who may include a birth parent, an adopter and adoptee or representatives from other adoption agencies or professional bodies.
The Panel receive the assessment document in advance of the Panel meeting and on the day they ask questions of the assessing Social Worker and the prospective adopters if they are present.
The Adoption Panel can only make a recommendation about approval. The decision is made at a later point by the Agency Decision Maker, taking into account the recommendation made by the Panel and the final minutes.
The Agency Decision is made by the Business Development Manager who is a qualified social worker registered with the HCPC.
If the Panel is recommending approval, you will be informed of this at the Panel meeting or by telephone the same day if you are not in attendance.
The Agency Decision will be made within 7 days of the decision maker receiving the recommendations from panel and the full and final minute.
If the Panel’s recommendation to the agency is not to approve an application, then the applicants are told this at the Panel meeting or by telephone the same day and informed by the Panel Advisor of the representation procedure. This is then followed up in writing.
If this is the case prospective adopters will also be advised that they can have their case referred for consideration by an Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) instead. They have 40 days to decide whether or not they wish to use the IRM route
If the applicants decide to make a representation to the agency, they have 40 days to do so from the time they receive written notification of the recommendation of the Panel.
Following this period of time, the Agency Decision Maker may either uphold the Panel’s original recommendation, decide to approve the applicants or refer the matter back to the next available Adoption Panel for further consideration.
If prospective adopters believe they have been treated unfairly during any part of the process, they are informed by the agency of their right to use the agency’s complaints procedure.
Following approval, you will be informed that you are now available to be considered for any potential match with a child.