What is Adoption Panel?

In line with statutory requirements, adoption panels are set up to ensure safe and effective care for children who have a plan for adoption.

Following completion of your Prospective Adopter’s Report (PAR) also referred to as a home study assessment, your case will be presented to ARC Adoption’s adoption panel.

The role of the adoption panel is to ensure the highest standards of practice. All adoption services are required to appoint a range of people to a central list of panel members. Panel members have an important role in ensuring that ARC Adoption North East applies the highest possible standards when considering who is suitable to be approved to adopt vulnerable children.

In order for the panel to go ahead a quorum of five members must be present.

The adoption panel consists of the following members:

  • A Chairperson who is an independent professional who is not employed by ARC Adoption North East and who has a comprehensive understanding and experience of the adoption process


  • A Vice-Chair who does not have to be independent of the agency but may be a social worker with at least three years’ experience in childcare and adoption
  • Independent people with first-hand knowledge of adoption

Examples of other individuals who may be adoption panel members include:

  • An education professional
  • An experienced adopter
  • An adoptee
  • A Medical advisor
  • A Legal advisor
  • Professional advisor to the adoption panel, this is usually the Director or Assistant Director at ARC Adoption. Their role is to inform the panel members of adoption regulations, agency policies and procedures and any business which is relevant to the recruitment and approval of adopters.
  • There is also a panel administrator who takes minutes of the discussion within the adoption panel and who circulates the papers related to the panel. They are also responsible for ensuring that any actions agreed during adoption panel are followed up.
  • There may be occasions when an observer is invited to attend the adoption panel. They play no part in the panel proceedings, they are there in order to gain experience and develop their knowledge and understanding of the adoption process.

 Legal Role of the Adoption Panel

ARC Adoption's adoption panel and agency decision maker make timely, quality and appropriate recommendations and decisions in line with the overriding objective; to promote the welfare of children.

 It is the role of the adoption panel to consider the following:

  • Each application for approval as an adopter and recommends to the agency decision maker, whether or not a person is suitable to be an adopter, within four months of receipt of the prospective adopter’s formal application to be assessed.
  • Where these timescales have not been met, the panel records the reasons in the written minutes of the panel meeting.
  • Where it recommends approval of an application, to recommend to the agency decision maker, the terms of approval to be given.
  • The adoption panel provides a quality assurance feedback to the agency every six months on the quality of reports being presented to the panel.

"The panel members were all welcoming and friendly – they made us feel as at ease as possible." ARC Adopter.

Prospective adopters must be given the opportunity to attend and be heard at all adoption panel meetings which discuss their brief or full prospective adopter’s report prepared on their suitability to adopt a child, or termination of their approval, as applicable.

As a prospective adopter you will be invited to attend the adoption panel that considers your application. Although your attendance at panel is not mandatory, attendance is very much encouraged so that you can be part of the complete process. However, if you choose not to attend the adoption panel, this decision will not prejudice the consideration of your case.

The adoption panel receives the assessment document in advance of the adoption panel meeting and on the day that the adoption panel takes place, the panel ask questions of the assessing social worker and the prospective adopters, should they choose to be present at panel.

If the adoption panel recommend approval, as the applicant you will be informed of this at the adoption panel meeting or by telephone the same day if you are not in attendance.

The adoption panel can only make recommendations to the agency, it is the agency decision maker who will make a formal and final decision taking into account the recommendation made by the adoption panel and the final minutes taken from the adoption panel.

The agency decision maker for ARC Adoption is a highly qualified social work manager registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

The agency decision will be made within seven days of the decision maker receiving the recommendations from panel and the full and final minutes.

Following approval, you will be informed by a telephone call that you are now available to be considered for any potential match with a child. This is then followed up in writing.

If the adoption panel’s recommendation to the agency is not to approve your application, then you, as applicants, will be 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 you will also be advised that you have the option to have your case referred for consideration by an Independent Review Mechanism (IRM). You will have 40 days to decide whether or not you wish to use the IRM route.

If you, as an applicant, 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 adoption panel.

Following this period of time, the Agency Decision Maker may either uphold the panel’s original recommendation, decide to approve you, the applicant, or refer the matter back to the next available adoption panel for further consideration.

If you as a prospective adopter believe that you have been treated unfairly during any part of the process, you have the right to use the agency’s complaints procedure.

Once you become an approved adopter the next step is to look for the right child for you, this is referred to as family finding or Finding the right child for you

If you would like to contact us to enquire about adoption, please call 0191 516 6466 or click the button below to submit an enquiry and a member of the ARC Adoption team will contact you as soon as possible. 

Adoption enquiry