Berkshire Safeguarding Children Board Procedures
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6.3.23 Quality Assurance and Monitoring

RELEVANT CHAPTERS / LEGISLATION / GUIDANCE

National Adoption Standards & the Care Standards Commission

The Adoption Support Fund

Restrictions on the Preparation of Adoption Reports Regulations 2005

AMENDMENT

In January 2017 this chapter was revised and updated throughout and the previously included appendices have been deleted. The chapter should be re-read in full.

Contents

  1. Adopters
  2. Reports for Panel and the Agency Decision Maker
  3. Birth Parents and Others who hold Parental Responsibility (PR) for a Child
  4. Child
  5. Finance
  6. National Adoption Standards & the Care Standards Commission
  7. Policies and Procedures
  8. Staff Supervision and Training


1. Adopters

1.1 Seeking Adopters’ Views on the Service

  • Prospective Adopter(s) should be involved in feedback to the group leaders on the group content and the preparation group report. They should be asked to sign the group work report and have the opportunity to add any comments;
  • If applicant(s) decide not to proceed with their application at any point after commencing their homestudy but prior to their application being considered by the Adoption Panel, they should be sent a letter confirming their decision and a questionnaire seeking their written views on the processes they have undergone (i.e. preparation process, application process and part of the homestudy process). It should also ask whether they consider their support needs have been appropriately addressed by the agency. The completed questionnaire should be read by the adoption team manager, statistics kept and any issues addressed;
    • The adoption team manager checks that the prospective adopter’s report is accurate, up-to-date and has evidence based information which distinguishes between fact, opinion and third party information, before it is submitted to the adoption panel. The social worker who wrote the prospective adopter’s report signs and dates it. The report is countersigned and dated by the adoption team manager (or a team manager of another adoption team within the agency) and the prospective adopters.
  • At the end of the Home Study period any dissatisfaction should, if possible, be addressed at this stage. If an acceptable resolution cannot be achieved/agreed then details of the agency’s complaints procedure should be given;
  • Applicant(s) should see their PAR before it is submitted for consideration by the Adoption Panel. They should sign the report and have the opportunity to comment on it or to write to the panel to provide additional information if they so wish;
  • Applicant(s) should be encouraged to attend the Adoption Panel when their application is considered. Those that choose to attend should be given the opportunity to feed back any observations that they wish to make about the preparation, application, assessment and panel processes to the panel;
  • Once an application has been considered by the agency’s Adoption Panel and a decision reached in respect of it; regardless of the outcome, the applicant(s) should be sent a questionnaire seeking their written views on the application, preparation, homestudy and panel processes;
  • On an monthly basis the BAAS sends out a questionnaire to all prospective adopters who have attended the Adoption Panel in the previous month asking for feedback on the panel process. The completed questionnaires when received are read by the manager of the BAAS and any issues are addressed;
  • Prospective adopter(s)’ views on the matching and placement process should be sought following every placement;
  • Adopter(s)’ views on the support and supervision of their placement should be sought after the making of the adoption order(s);
  • All the completed questionnaires should be read by the adoption team manager, statistics kept and any issues addressed.

1.2 Seeking Adopter(s)' Views on Contact Arrangements

  • If adopter(s) are involved in direct contact arrangements supported directly by the BAAS they will be asked to complete a short questionnaire following each contact. These are returned to the manager of the BAAS. Information received via these questionnaires assist the BAAS to monitor whether service delivery is meeting the needs of those involved. Any issues are followed up by the worker from the BAAS and progress monitored by the manager;
  • Every 5 years the BAAS undertakes a full audit of the indirect contact service when adopter(s)’ views are sought. This audit is reported and statistics kept. If any issues emerge they are followed up by those involved and progress is monitored by the manager;
  • If at any time the BAAS becomes aware that any contact arrangement in place appears not to meet the needs of the adopted child(ren) involved a review is conducted and appropriate action(s) taken. The set up letter and the letter accompanying information that is sent out to adopters annually also offers a review if required.


2. Reports for Panel and the Agency Decision Maker

2.1 Child’s Permanence Report (CPR)

  • The birth parent(s)’ views and wishes must be recorded on the Child’s Permanence Report. They should read, or have read to them, the section of the report that relates to them and wherever possible should sign the final report to evidence that they have seen it;
  • In line with agency policy the CPR should be read by the supervisor or line manager of the worker who wrote the report;
  • The final report must be signed by the worker who wrote it and a senior manager in the agency.

2.2 Prospective Adopter Reports

  • In line with agency policy the PAR report should be read by the supervisor or line manager of the worker who wrote the report;
  • The final report must be signed by the worker who wrote it and the Adoption Manager.

2.3 Linking and Matching Reports

  • In line with agency policy the linking/matching report should be read by the supervisor or line manager of the worker who wrote the report;
  • The final report must be signed by the worker who wrote it.

2.4 Placement Support Plans

  • In line with agency policy the Adoption Support Plan should be read by the supervisor or line manager of the worker who wrote the plan and by the Adoption Manager;
  • The final report must be signed by the worker who wrote it and Adoption Manager.

2.5 Matters Arising from Reports

  • If the Adoption Panel, when considering a report, identifies issues of concern relating to practice, this will be fed back to a senior member of the agency by either the Professional Adviser to the Adoption Panel or the Agency’s panel representative.


3. Birth Parents and Others who hold Parental Responsibility (PR) for a Child

3.1 Notifications

  • The birth parent(s) and any other individuals who hold PR for a child must be sent notification letter(s) giving details of the date when the Agency Decision Maker will be asked to make an adoption recommendation in respect of the child;
  • If the Agency Decision Maker makes an adoption recommendation in respect of a child, the birth parent(s) and any other individuals who hold PR for the child must be sent notification letter(s) to inform them of the agency’s decision;
  • If the Adoption Panel makes a recommendation in respect of a proposed match, the birth parent(s) and any other individuals who hold PR for the child must be sent notification letter(s) to inform them of the agency’s decision in respect of the child. The social worker for the child will support the birth family in understanding the significance of the decisions;
  • Details of all notification letters sent to the birth parent(s) or to anyone else who holds PR for a child must be noted on the case file and compliance with procedures monitored through supervision;
  • Birth parent(s) and any other individuals who hold PR for the child must be consulted about whether they wish to continue to be informed of the outcome of future reviews after the child is placed for adoption. If they do not wish to be informed they should be asked to sign a declaration to this effect;
  • If the birth parent(s) and other individuals who hold PR for the child wish to continue to be informed of review outcomes the agency will notify them in writing following each review.

3.2 The Independent Birth Parent Service

Birth parents are given information on how to obtain legal advice, contact details of local and national support groups and services, and support to fulfil agreed plans for contact.

  • This is operated on behalf of the agency by the BAAS;
  • All birth parents, significant grandparents and any others who hold PR for the child should be offered this service and if they choose to accept will be seen by a worker from the BAAS independent of the agency;
  • When this work is complete each birth family member who has been seen will be sent a brief questionnaire. Completed questionnaires will be read by the manager of the BAAS, any issues raised will be dealt with by the worker concerned and monitored by the BAAS manager.

3.3 Birth Relatives’ Views on Contact Arrangements

  • If birth family members are involved in direct contact arrangements that are supported by the BAAS they will be asked to complete a questionnaire following each contact. These are returned to the manager of the BAAS. Information received via these questionnaires assists the BAAS in monitoring whether service delivery is meeting the needs of those involved. Any emerging issues will be followed up by the worker from the BAAS and monitored by the manager;
  • Indirect contact arrangements are reviewed every 5 years by way of a complete audit of the indirect contact service. The views of all the birth relatives who are involved in indirect contact arrangements managed through the service will be sought. Following the audit a report is written and issued to the Heads of Children’s Services in each of the six Berkshire Unitary Authorities. If any issues emerge they are followed up by the appropriate worker from the BAAS and progress is monitored by the manager of the service.


4. Child

4.1 The Process Prior to Panel

  • If any child for whom adoption is the plan is of sufficient age and understanding he/she must be kept informed throughout the adoption planning process. His/her views must be sought and recorded in the Child’s Permanence Report;
  • He/she should also be given a notification letter appropriate to his/her age and understanding and a copy of the Children’s Guide to Adoption. (This will include a complaints leaflet). The dates that these were given must be recorded on the child’s adoption file;
  • Any issues arising for the child in respect of the adoption process should be dealt with, initially by his/her allocated social worker, and his/her responses monitored by the worker’s line manager. Compliance with procedures should be monitored through staff supervision.

The wishes, feelings and views of children are taken into account by the adoption agency and adoption support agency in monitoring and developing its service.

4.2 Post Placement

  • If the child is of sufficient age and understanding his/her views on his/her situation and the adoption plan should be sought and recorded prior to each review;
  • The child’s views should be shared at the review. Any issues raised by him/her should be noted on his/her file and addressed by the worker identified at the review as the person most appropriate to deal with the issue(s). Compliance with these procedures should be monitored through the reviewing process.

Children can take up issues in the most appropriate way with support, without fear that this will result in any adverse consequences. Children receive prompt feedback on any concerns or complaints raised and are kept informed of progress (or lack of progress) throughout the adoption process, in a manner which is suitable to their age and understanding.


5. Finance

Financial support, where deemed appropriate, is intended to supplement existing means of support available to adoptive parents and the child, or children, being adopted. Adopters must be given advice of entitlements to employee's rights to leave and pay, benefits, tax credits and allowances. These and family income should be taken into account when considering the level of financial support.

5.1 Adoption Allowances

  • All adoption allowances are set up in line with agency procedure and regulations and reviewed in line with these;
  • All reviews are sent out by the administration team and the assessment carried out, either by the administration team or finance;
  • All resulting assessment are agreed by the Adoption Manager and Head of Service;
  • Within the agency there is also a general finance audit that looks at adoption allowances as part of the finance audit.

5.2 Settling-in Grants and Expenses associated with setting up a Placement

  • These are paid in line with agency policy and are agreed at the time of placement;
  • Wherever possible receipts have to be provided;
  • Any expenditure must be agreed by the Adoption Manager;
  • Within the agency there is also a general finance audit that will look at adoption allowances as part of the finance audit.

The Adoption Support Fund

The Adoption Support Fund (ASF) is a new fund established to help pay for essential therapy services for adoptive families as and when they need it. It has been set up because many families need some kind of support during and following adoption and too many have struggled to get the help they need in the past. The ASF will enable adoptive families to access the services they need more easily in the future.


6. National Adoption Standards & the Care Standards Commission

6.1 Timescales

  • In working with prospective adopters, adopters, children and birth parents the agency will be mindful of the National Adoption Standards and the Care Standards in Adoption

6.2 Adopters

  • At the time of the Stage Two Agreement being signed a panel date will be identified to ensure that where-ever possible the timescales are adhered to;
  • This will be monitored through supervision and any delay accounted for and noted on the file.

6.3 Children

  • Following the plan being made for adoption the agency will monitor the timescales for the child in line with agency procedures and National Standards;
  • Where delay occurs this will be accounted for and noted on the child’s adoption file.

6.4 Adoption Panel

The BAAS Adoption panel provides a quality assurance feedback to the agency every six months on the quality of reports being presented to the panel. This includes whether the requirements of the Restrictions on the Preparation of Adoption Reports Regulations 2005 have been met, and whether there is a thorough, rigorous, consistent and fair approach across the service in the assessment of whether a child should be placed for adoption, the suitability of prospective adopters and the proposed placement. This sub-standard is linked to standard 25.


7. Policies and Procedures

  • The Authority reviews its Adoption Policy and Statement of Purpose on an annual basis in order to ensure that they reflect current practice/service developments/best practice - if changes are made then the agency will review and amend appropriately any associated information;
  • The Authority seeks to review its adoption procedures on a three yearly basis and to ensure that they reflect best practice (accepting budgetary and staffing restraints);
  • The Authority seeks to make all Service Users aware of its Complaints and Commendations Process and monitors all complaints and commendations received;
  • The team manager adoption compiles a six monthly report for Members detailing the developments within the agency, current activity levels and emerging issues.


8. Staff Supervision and Training

  • The Agency is committed to maintaining appropriate levels of knowledge and experience within its staff group. To achieve this:
    • All staff who undertake adoption work are qualified under the Restrictions on the Preparation of Adoption Reports Regulations 2005, and, hold a professional social work qualification and be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council;
    • All staff have an allocated supervisor and receive regular supervision;
    • All staff are the subject of an annual staff appraisal which considers both immediate and longer term training needs;
    • All staff have the opportunity to attend both internal and external training's appropriate to their role and professional development (within the limits of the training budget).

8.1 File Auditing

  • Case files relating to both adopters and children are monitored through staff supervision, internal audits and external Children’s Services and Adoption Agency Inspection Processes;
  • Decisions made during staff supervision about individual cases should be recorded on the case file by the appropriate manager.

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