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6.2.25 Adoption and Permanence Fast Track Team - Operational Policy and Service Procedures

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in February 2017. Section 2, Aims was updated to reflect that care proceedings are concluded as outlined in the PLO within 26 weeks.


Contents

  1. Introduction 
  2. Aims
  3. Rationale of Service
  4. Objectives of Service
  5. Referral Criteria
  6. Referral Process
  7. Outcomes and Measures
  8. Service Staffing
  9. Service Base
  10. Fast Track Process of Involvement
  11. Service Structure 

    Appendix 1: Referral Form


1. Introduction

The Fast Track Team operates in accordance with the Children Act 1989, the Children Act 2004, the Adoption and Children Act 2002 and the Council's Permanence and Stability Policy underpinned by the Every Child Matters Agenda (promoting the outcomes of children within the Borough of Blackburn with Darwen) and Care Matters, Time for Change.

The Fast Track Team works to support social workers care planning in securing permanence for children. We help social workers distinguish between identifying those families that are supportable and can benefit from timely interventions from those families who are unable to care for their children within children's timescales. This information helps in the decision making for future care plans for children.

When the fast track team are involved they have the ability to support children, families, carers and social workers through the whole process of securing permanence.


2. Aims

The Fast Track Team aims to:

Secure permanence for children, to assist in preventing delay in permanence planning for children and young people.

A Permanence Plan can comprise of any of the following:

  • Birth family;
  • Child and Family Arrangements Order;
  • Long Term Foster Placement;
  • Children's home;
  • Special Guardianship Order;
  • Adoption.

Provide early intervention and informed decision making in care planning.

Offer a package of care, from Child and Family Assessment through to post-placement support.

Promote an understanding of children's developmental needs and emotional wellbeing to ensure effective care planning.

Contribute to Child and Family Assessments.

Gain an understanding of a child's important relationships e.g. sibling relationships to inform placement plans and contact.

Working within effective timescales, undertaking assessments within timescales as set out in the Public Law Outline (PLO), to ensure that care proceedings are concluded as outlined in the PLO within 26 weeks.


3. Rationale of Service

As referred to in Blackburn with Darwen Permanence and Stability Policy:

The objective of planning for permanence is to seek to ensure that children have a secure, stable and loving family to support them through childhood and one which remains meaningful into adulthood. Permanence is achieved when a child belongs legally to the family in which he or she lives.

It is therefore essential that seeking to achieve permanence for children is a key consideration in the planning for any child who becomes looked after or when working with children in need in their families.

The options of legal permanence will be explored, where children are unable to remain in the care of their birth parent(s), live with a relative or person close to the child by virtue of Residence or Special Guardianship Order, adoption into an alternative family will be considered.

There are situations where a child moves into a permanent placement and then has to move again contrary to expectations, in adoption this is referred to as a "disruption". "Disruption" is a premature ending of an adoptive placement.

Placement Disruptions, key factors identified in Child Assessment:

  • Abuse before placement;
  • Number of previous placements;
  • Current or previous lack of attachment;
  • Poor assessment of sibling relationships;
  • Extreme behaviour problems;
  • Firm attachment to birth parents where they oppose placement.

The Fast Track team provides services for children and families where there are complex issues ensuring effective assessments and intervention are in place to inform permanence planning.

Providing continuity and a holistic package of care, from early assessment, ensures that the individual needs of a child are identified, with the parenting capacity required to meet those needs. Where the care plan for the child is adoption, this will contribute towards the matching process, identifying the profile required of prospective adopters, the needs of the child and ensuring that future support needs are addressed.

Such an informed decision making processes, continuity of care and effective preparation for children will contribute to the stability and success of an adoptive placement.


4. Objectives of Service

The Fast Track team has the capacity to add a multi-agency dimension to care planning in order to assist with securing permanence for children without delay.

We accept referrals where cases are complex and assessments are required in order to plan for the child's future and where prognosis for reunification or remaining with birth family is poor.

The referring social worker is an important person in this process and we aim to work jointly or closely throughout this process, sharing information gathered in order to have a shared plan for the child and family.

Once a case is open it is possible to engage other expertise within the team as appropriate enabling the team to provide a holistic package of care allowing continuity for the child and family, to provide the least disruptive service to children and families.

Services provided:

1. Psychological Assessments:
  • Child's emotional well-being;
  • Parent-child relationship;
  • Sibling relationships;
  • Psychological assessment of parenting.

We undertake comprehensive assessments of the child and family. This often involves meeting with the child and parents/carers directly and meeting with other people who are important to the family e.g. health and education. This process takes time but it is important to gather as much information as possible to help understand the family and identify what changes may be required. We then use this information to understand factors that have contributed to the family's difficulties, in order to find out which, if any, factors are changeable and what interventions are likely to improve the situation.

For a child who is known to the Fast Track team

2. Psychological Interventions:

We provide therapeutic interventions for children, birth families, foster carers and adopters in the transition period to permanence. If families are to receive any support it must specifically target the area of difficulty. This allows any changes to be monitored so that we can ensure the children's needs are being met. We advise on the necessity, timing and type of therapeutic intervention if deemed appropriate. We can advise on appropriate services and also offer consultation to others undertaking therapeutic work.

3. Assessments of prospective carers:

We will explore whether it is possible to recruit adopters who may be able to meet the needs of specific children awaiting an adoptive placement. We are able to undertake assessments of prospective adopters which can include assessments of foster carers wishing to adopt a child in their care.

4. Family Finding:

We will family find for children who have a care plan for adoption. Any psychological assessments that have been undertaken and information gathered about the child's needs during our intervention will inform the matching process.

5. Preparation for permanence:

We can undertake life-story work with children. We can advise social workers in areas such as reducing contact, talking to children about adoption, advise foster carers on meeting children's needs prior to moving on to permanence etc.

6. Post-placement support:

There are situations where we can provide support to children, families and carers/adopters once the child is in their permanent placement.

7. Advise Social Workers on assessments and advising on specific adoption procedures.

8. Contribute to planning meetings, to inform care planning.

9. Promote permanence planning within Children's Services by offering training to Social Workers.

If social workers seem to be bringing similar issues then we will assume these issues are applicable to most social workers. Therefore we will aim to provide training to enable the opportunity for all staff to share their knowledge and experiences.


5. Referral Criteria

The case must be complex where assessments are required in order to plan for the child's future.

The prognosis for reunification or remaining with birth family is poor (the poor prognosis indicator attached to the referral form is a tool to assist social workers in making this judgement).

Public Law Outline requests will be prioritised.

Families where there are sibling groups will be prioritised to assist in achieving the best outcome for all the children.


6. Referral Process

The Fast Track Team accepts referrals from the social work teams in relation to cases open to children's services social care. Where there is the likelihood that the child/ren will be unable to grow up with birth parents.

In Public Law Outline cases prior to making the referral to Fast Track the social worker must discuss the appropriateness of the referral with legal.

The child's social worker is required to complete the fast track referral form which must be provided to the Adoption Team Manager or in his absence the Principal Social Worker, who will then discuss the case with the child/ren's social worker to determine whether the case meets the referral criteria.

The Referral will then be discussed with the Fast Track team, within the fortnightly Fast Track meetings. At which a Fast Track outcome form outlining whether a service can be provided and if so the work agreed, the person responsible for undertaking the work and timescales for the work will be completed and sent to the Social Worker, Team Manager and Legal representative to ensure clarity as to the work agreed.


7. Outcomes and Measures

The Fast Track team will provide a closure form to the child's social worker identifying work undertaken and outcomes of the intervention.

It is envisaged that the Fast Track Service will be reviewed annually. This will inform the ongoing development of the service and ensure that it is providing an effective service and achieving its aims in securing permanence for children.

The Fast Track team will collate feedback from users of the service through evaluation forms issued on completion of the work.

The Fast Track team will issue an annual report of referrals to the service and work undertaken based on data collated from users of the service.


8. Service Staffing

The team consists of one part-time Child Support Officer and one full-time Child Clinical Psychologist. The team is managed by the Adoption Team Manager.


9. Service Base

The Fast Track Team are based within the Adoption Service at Children's Services, Duke Street Blackburn.


10. Fast Track Process of Involvement

Click here to view Fast Track Process of Involvement Flowchart


11. Service Structure

Click here to view Service Structure


Appendix 1: Referral Form

Click here for Appendix 1: Referral Form

End