Berkshire Safeguarding Children Board Procedures
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6.3.22 Birth Parent Services

AMENDMENT

Appendix C: Birth Family Support Service Leaflet, was added to this chapter in January 2014.

Contents

  1. The Service
  2. The Role of the Project Worker
  3. Procedure for Referral
  4. The Work with Birth Family Members
  5. Action following completion of the work
  6. The File

    Appendix A: Initial visit guidance

    Appendix B: Feedback form

    Appendix C: Birth Family Support Service Leaflet


1. The Service

The legislation, regulations and guidance that underpin the service are contained within:

  • Adoption National Minimum Standards;
  • The Health and Care Professions Council codes of Practice for social care workers and employers;
  • The Adoption Agencies Regulations Guidance 2011;
  • Adoption Support Regulations 2005;
  • The Children Act 1989;
  • Adoption and Children Act 2002;
  • Care Standards Act 2000.

  1. The aim of the service is to offer consistent support and information to significant birth family members when adoption has been formally identified as the plan for the child;
  2. The service is offered to the six unitary authorities within Berkshire via the Berkshire Adoption Advisory Service (BAAS) in line with the requirements of the Adoption National Minimum Standards and Care Standards Act 2000;
  3. In offering this independent service the BAAS will ensure that those receiving the service are treated fairly, openly, with respect and in a non-discriminatory way and will be sensitive to the service users ethnic origins, religious beliefs, language, communication or learning impairments;
  4. The BAAS is committed to providing a flexible, responsive and quality service and is keen to receive feedback from users, both professional and service users, in order to monitor and improve the service;
  5. The BAAS employs a qualified social worker (the project worker) to take the lead for this project but other qualified social workers may also be involved;
  6. There is a leaflet about the service.


2. The Role of the Project Worker

  1. To work with the birth family member(s) to enable them to have a full understanding of the adoption process, it's legal implications and their rights.

    The work with any individual will usually be completed in a maximum of 4 sessions, however in exceptional circumstances further sessions will be offered.

    The birth family member(s) will each be offered an individual home visit except in situations where known factors indicate that this might be inappropriate (e.g. where there is a risk of violence or highly volatile behaviour).
  2. To discuss the plan for the child with the birth family member(s) and help them to understand the plan and the likely timescales;
  3. To provide information about local and national support groups and services;
  4. To be supportive in helping the birth family member(s) to provide information to the child's social worker that the child is likely to benefit from having in later life. This includes, where relevant, information about the child's birth and early life, the birth family's views about adoption and contact and up to date information about themselves;
  5. To inform the birth family members of their rights to make representation and complaints;
  6. To maintain the confidentiality of any discussions with the birth family member(s) except where to do so could compromise the safety and welfare of a child or threaten the safety of anyone else. (This approach will be explained to the birth family member(s) from the outset);
  7. To be open with the birth family member(s) about any recording that will be kept on the file. A copy of all recording that relates to visits/meetings will be given to the appropriate birth family member. In the event of a disagreement regarding these recordings, the views of the individual will be noted on the file.


3. Procedure for Referral

  1. Referrals may be made by either a birth relative, him/herself, direct to the BAAS or by any of the professionals involved with a case e.g. social worker, solicitor, Children's Guardian. These referrals will only be accepted once a formal plan for adoption has been agreed at a review and the birth relative informed in writing of the plan;
  2. If a birth family member makes a direct referral to the BAAS a telephone call will be made to the appropriate professional (usually the child's social worker) to inform of the referral and to obtain any necessary information. The birth family member will be informed of this;
  3. Referrals may be made by letter, telephone or in person;
  4. Referrals will be acknowledged in writing to the referrer by letter or email and the child's social worker where appropriate.


4. The Work with Birth Family Members

  1. The birth family member will be contacted either verbally, by telephone or by letter to arrange an appointment. A suitable time and venue will be agreed. The birth family member may bring another person as a support if he/she wishes to do so;
  2. The appointment will be confirmed in writing, however if English is not the birth family member's first language and/or he/she has special needs other steps will be taken as appropriate to confirm the arrangement;
  3. The session offered will include the provision and explanation of the information listed in Appendix A - Initial visit;
  4. Each Birth Family Member will be given a written record of any discussions that have taken place with him/her in accordance with the BAAS open recording policy;
  5. Non-attendance or non-engagement with the service will result in the offer of a second appointment and the referrer will be notified in writing. Where the service is not taken up, the birth family member will be notified in writing that the service remains open to him/her and will be provided with information on how he/she can access the service in the future;
  6. If, at the time of the referral, issues of safety that pose a high risk are identified then the information may be sent by post and the service offered by telephone. This will always be discussed with a manager before the decision is finalised;
  7. Should information be obtained during the course of any session(s) that has implications for the safety, welfare and protection of a child(ren) or threatens the safety of an adult(s) appropriate action will be taken in line with procedure and the relevant local authority notified in writing along with a request for feedback of the action taken.


5. Action following completion of the work

  1. A comment form will be sent to each birth relative who has been involved with the service seeking his/her views on the service provided. If English is not his/her first language and/or the birth relative has special needs/literacy difficulties this will be taken into account and a verbal discussion will then take place;
  2. When work has been completed, the birth family member(s) and/or the unitary authority will be informed in writing that information has been given in accordance with the Adoption National Minimum Standards 2011 and Care Standards Act Where the service has not been taken up, the child's social worker will be informed in writing.


6. The File

  1. A file will be opened at the BAAS in the name of the person being referred. The file will be stored at the BAAS and kept in accordance with regulation. The contents of the file will be confidential to the BAAS and it's employing authority and will not be shared without permission unless this would compromise the safety and welfare of a child;
  2. On completion of the work the file will be closed and held in the BAAS for a minimum of 12 months before being transferred to the Modern Records Office. It will be held for 75 years in accordance with Department of Health recommendations. Files relating to work with birth family members will be stored separately to all other files and access will only be allowed in accordance with the host authority's access to records policy.


Appendices

Appendix A: Initial Visit Guidance

Appendix B: Feedback Form

Appendix C: Birth Family Support Service Leaflet

End