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3.9.12 Prospective Adopters Attending Panel

Contents

  1. General Principles
  2. Procedure
  3. Venue


1. General Principles

In line with the Adoption and Children Act 2002 and Adoption Agency Regulations 2005 the agency is required to offer the opportunity for Prospective Adopters to attend a meeting of the Panel before it makes a recommendation about their suitability to adopt. The purpose of this meeting is to provide an opportunity for both the Panel and the prospective adopters to discuss and clarify the prospective adopter's reasons for wishing to adopt and any other matters that either party considers relevant to the application.

Clearly the Panel is required to come to an objective decision based on all the available information and the attendance at the Panel cannot outweigh all the other evidence presented. As this will include the views of third parties it will therefore not be appropriate for the Prospective Adopters to attend for all the Panel discussion of the application.

In line with many other local authorities, the County Council has decided to invite Prospective Adopters to attend Panel when a matching is to be considered. The adopters will be invited to express their motivation to adopt a particular child, and discuss any issues, which arise. The purpose of adopters attending is that there should be transparency in the process and they should have the right to be party to this very major decision. For the Panel, in the light of adoption support legislation it gives the opportunity to be reassured that the adopters are aware of the issues now and in the future. However, the recommendation Panel reaches is based on the written information presented to Panel, if Panel feels new information or information that has not been fully assessed by the Social Worker is being presented during the meeting, they may not be able to reach a recommendation. Prospective adopters contribute to the Adoption Placement Report, being asked to comment on the contact and support plans, the delegation of Parental Responsibility and their preparedness as prospective parents to the specified child(ren).

Some Prospective Adopters may choose not to attend Panel and it is important to convey to them that no negative implications will be made about their non-attendance. Prospective Adopters should be informed of the Panel recommendation on the same day. They could be given the choice of waiting to be informed after the Panel discussion, or if they choose to go home after their attendance, be telephoned by their Social Worker following the Panel recommendation. The literature given to them will make clear the difference between the Panel recommendation and the Panel decision.

Single Prospective Adopters are given the opportunity of asking a supporter to accompany them, however the applicant will need to consider in advance issues of confidentiality that may arise during the discussion. It would not be expected that the supporter takes part in the discussion nor is it open for Prospective Adopters to be accompanied by a representative or lawyer.

An information leaflet detailing the process and containing profiles of Panel members should be made available to Prospective Adopters attending and a feedback form evaluating the experience.


2. Procedure

  1. When Prospective Adopters arrive they should be personally greeted by the supervising Social Worker representing the authority;
  2. The chair invites comments and notes any issues which panel wish to raise for discussion prior to each case being heard;
  3. The Prospective Adopters supervising Social Worker will join Panel, which will identify the areas for further discussion: legal and medical advice will be shared at this point. The supervising social worker will summarise the attendees strengths and vulnerabilities and clarify any issues arising from referees or issues detailed in the report;
  4. The Chair of the Panel will leave the room to meet the Prospective Adopters. The chair will remind them of the process and answer any questions they may have;
  5. The Prospective Adopters will then be invited to the Panel for discussion and any matters they wish to raise;
  6. The panel members will introduce themselves and the chair will outline how this part of the meeting will be conducted;
  7. The panel members will ask previously agreed questions and will request permission of the Chair to ask any supplementary questions they may have. The Prospective Adopters will be asked if they have any questions;
  8. The Prospective Adopters will then be asked to leave the room whilst panel concludes their discussions.

    Panel may wish to have further discussion with the Social Worker present, after the applicant or adopters have left the room, before reaching their recommendation;
  9. Panel members will be asked for their views upon the recommendation. In the event of a disagreement, each panel member will be asked in turn for their views and the advice of panel adviser will be sought. The number of dissenting or abstaining members will be recorded and a summary of their reasons will be noted in the minutes along with the reasons for the majority recommendation.

    The Panel Chair, in some cases accompanied by the Panel Adviser, and the Prospective Adopters supervising Social Worker will convey the recommendation if the applicant or adopters have chosen to stay. If they have left their Social Worker will contact them by telephone later the same day;
  10. All attendees will be asked to complete a used feedback form.


3. Venue

The adoption panel will usually be held at The New Life centre, Newland, Lincoln. The prospective adopters should be shown to the waiting room by the supervising social worker, who will remain with them until invited in by adoption panel.

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