View the Pan Lancashire SCB Manual
View the Pan Lancashire SCB Manual View the Pan Lancashire SCB Manual

6.2.10 Allegations Against Prospective Adopters

RELATED GUIDANCE

See also the Pan Lancashire Policy and Procedures for Safeguarding Children Manual.

The Local Authority Adoption Service (England) Regulations 2003

AMENDMENT

In February 2014, this chapter was extensively updated and should be read in its entirety.


Contents

1. Policy
2. Introduction
3. Procedure
  3.1 Initial Action
  3.2 Strategy Meeting
  3.3 Investigation and Action
  3.4 Concluding the Investigation


1. Policy

All children are entitled to the same level and standard of protection from harm including those receiving services from statutory or other agencies. For this reason, enquiries and investigations relating to children in receipt of such services must be dealt with under the principles, policies and procedures of the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB).

All staff must be aware of the LSCB procedure for Allegations Against Persons who Work with Children (including Carers and Volunteers), and the need to refer persons to the Disclosure and Barring Service. Each adoption agency should have their own procedures, consistent with the procedures of the LSCB for the area where the prospective adopters live. Each agency should have  a designated person responsible for managing allegations and liaising with the LADO.

Allegations or suspicions that a prospective adopter has caused Significant Harm to a child will be  managed as outlined in Pan Lancashire Policy and Procedures for Safeguarding Children Manual, Allegations Against Persons who Work with Children Procedure.

Although there may be insufficient evidence to support a Police prosecution, this does not mean that action cannot be taken to protect a child nor that the termination of a prospective adopter's approval cannot be considered.  Whilst criminal proceedings use the “beyond all reasonable doubt” threshold allegations against professionals use the “balance of probability” threshold.

The welfare and safety of all children in the prospective adopters' household, and children with whom the prospective adopters may have contact, must also be considered during any Section 47 Enquiry.


2. Introduction

The expectation is that:

  1. At the time of a child's placement, prospective adopters will be provided with detailed information as to the child's background and in particular the context of any abusive experiences of and/or previous allegations made by the child - see Placement for Adoption Procedure;
  2. All prospective adopters will receive preparation and guidance to help them provide a safe environment for the child and all members of the adoptive family;
  3. All prospective adopters will have received information about this procedure.


3. Procedure

3.1 Initial Action

Any person who receives information or suspects that a child has suffered or is suffering Significant Harm in an adoptive placement and before an Adoption Order is made or during an introduction to an adoptive placement must immediately.

  • inform the child's social worker
  • Inform the IRO (Independent Reviewing Officer)
  • Inform the prospective adopter's link worker and his or her manager.

Decisions can then be made as to which of the following will be required, a Strategy Meeting to discuss the safeguarding and other needs of the child, a management of allegations strategy meeting, an urgent placement planning review meeting (see Placement for Adoption Procedure), or an urgent review of the adoptive placement – (see Adoption Reviews Procedure).

Once an Adoption Order is made and a Child Protection concern is raised against the adoptive parents, such concerns will be investigated as for any other adult with Parental Responsibility.

Where it is appropriate to treat the allegation as a Child Protection concern, the child's social worker will be responsible for initiating the Local Safeguarding Children Board Inter Agency Procedures in relation to the allegation, unless the prospective adopter lives in another local authority area, in which case the child's social worker will make a referral to the relevant local authority and that local authority will be responsible for implementing their own Local Safeguarding Children Board's Procedures and inviting the child's social worker and adopters' link worker to the Strategy Meeting.

For children placed for adoption with adopters living within Blackburn with Darwen, a Strategy Meeting focusing on the needs of the child will be convened as soon as possible after concerns have been identified and within a maximum of 2 working days of the referral.

Any action to protect the child in question or any other children should not be delayed pending  the Strategy Meeting.

3.2 Management of Allegations Strategy Meeting

It is important to recognise that there are clearly defined differences between a Strategy Meeting led by Children’s Social Care where the safeguarding and other needs of the child are considered and a Management of Allegations Strategy Meeting led by the LADO where the focus is the allegation of professional abuse.

In order to meet the criteria for a Management of Allegations Strategy Meeting

The Management of Allegations Strategy Meeting  will be chaired by the LADO.

The following is a list of people who may be invited but is not exhaustive;

  1. The child's social worker;
  2. The prospective adopter's link worker;
  3. The Police Public Protection Unit;
  4. Health professionals where appropriate;
  5. Any other agency involved with the child or adoptive family;
  6. Any agency for whom the alleged perpetrator works either in paid employment or on a voluntary basis where they have contact with children and/or young people;
  7. The child's Independent Reviewing Officer;
  8. A minute taker.

The Management of Allegations Strategy Meeting will  consider:

  • The current allegation and how and by whom  it is to be investigated
  • Any previous allegations or concerns about the prospective adopters and the outcome of previous investigations;
  • Any previous allegations made by the child in question and the outcome of previous investigations;
  • The need to call an urgent placement planning review meeting - see Placement for Adoption Procedure - or an urgent review of the adoptive placement - see Adoption Reviews Procedure - and the timing of any such review;
  • The safety and well being of other children living with, or having contact with the prospective adopters;
  • A referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for inclusion on the Children's Barred List. This should be considered whenever a carer is suspended from their duties;
  • Support to be offered to the children in the family during the investigation;
  • Who will inform the prospective adopters of this meeting?
  • Who will support the prospective adopters through the investigation process?
  • Contact and information to be given to the parents of the children concerned; how and when this should be done.

Every allegation should be investigated and where appropriate  the Regulatory Authority informed.

Minutes of the meeting should include recommendations and actions.  Copies of the minutes should be held on the prospective adopters record not that of the child.

3.3 Investigation and Action

The actions agreed at the Strategy Meeting should be implemented by those responsible within the agreed timescales.

Unless there are circumstances when the details or nature of the allegation cannot be shared immediately, the prospective adopters should be advised of the allegation and of the process to be followed in the investigation, including the possibility that an Initial Child Protection Conference may be convened in relation to their own children.

Any decision to suspend the approval of the prospective adopter while the investigation is being conducted should be communicated in writing to the prospective adopter by the Adoptive Service Manager.

Those supporting the prospective adopters must contact them as soon as practicable after they are made aware of the allegation, and explain their role. They must make clear their responsibility to report to the local authority, the Police and in some circumstances to the Court if any information relevant to the investigation comes to their attention.

They must provide to the prospective adopters:

  1. A copy of this procedure and the relevant Local Safeguarding Children Board's procedure;
  2. Advice about consulting a solicitor and obtaining independent support;
  3. Advice about insurance arrangements for legal expenses.

Where the prospective adopters are in receipt of financial support, they should be informed of any implications for the payment of such support, where placements have been suspended.

3.4 Concluding the Investigation

Follow up Management of Allegation Strategy Meeting will be convened by the LADO if necessary. The purpose of the reconvened Strategy Meeting is to agree on the outcome in respect of the allegation and responsibilities for any further action. The meeting should determine who will inform  the prospective adopters of the outcome of the allegation. The child, the parents, other relevant agencies and the Regulatory Authority will also be informed of the outcome of  the meeting. A report should be presented to the next available Adoption Panel. The procedure to be followed will be the same as for reviews of prospective adopter's approval - see Recruitment, Assessment and Approval of Prospective Adopters Procedure.

The social worker preparing the report should consult with the Panel Adviser to the Adoption Panel and the Chair of the Adoption Panel who will advise on who should attend the Panel meeting (usually the child's social worker and the prospective adopter's link worker) and whether or not a special Panel meeting should be convened.

Any allegation made against a prospective adopter or a member of the household, how it was dealt with and decisions made, and all relevant documents are recorded on the prospective adopter's file, and their respective Adoption Case Records. If an Adoption Order is made, this information must be retained for 100 years after the Adoption Order.

Consideration should be given to holding a debriefing meeting for all involved as to the impact of the allegations and the investigation, whatever the outcome, and any necessary assistance should be made available as necessary. 

End