Early permanence is a means of placing a child (usually a baby or child under the age of two) with prospective adopters who are also approved as foster carers, whilst assessments of the birth family and the court process are ongoing.
Advantages of early permanence
Most babies and young children who are adopted have to manage several changes of carer and broken attachments. With early permanence, some of this can be avoided when the child is placed with their permanent family earlier and the development of secure attachments can begin. As an early permanence carer, you will be part of a child’s life at the earliest opportunity.
How early permanence works
Concurrent planning and Fostering for Adoption (FfA) are two routes to achieving early permanence for a child who cannot be cared for by their birth parents or extended family. Both involve a child being placed with approved prospective adopters, who are willing to act as foster carers, while the court is deciding whether the child can go home or whether s/he should be adopted.
Concurrent carers are assessed for approval as foster carers as well as adopters. Once you have been approved for both roles you will then wait for a child to be identified, where the local authority thinks that adoption may be right for the child, but work still needs to be completed before the court makes its decision about adoption.
Concurrent planning is only used if the local authority believes that the child’s parents and extended family are unlikely to be able to care for the child; but this is not yet certain.
During the fostering phase, the local authority will have agreed with the birth parent the changes needed for the child to be returned to their parent’s care. As the foster carer, you must be able to support this. You are usually expected to meet with the birth parents and support the child to have contact with them as part of the assessment and to ensure that if the child is returned to the family, there is already a good relationship to build on.
Fostering for Adoption
In Fostering for Adoption placements, the local authority has already reached a clear view that the child should be placed for adoption at the end of court proceedings. However, the judge will not yet have made their decision, and sometimes there are unexpected developments, such as a previously unknown relative asking to be considered.
Become an early permanence carer
Early permanence carers need to be able to look after a baby through a period of uncertainty about his or her future. You will also need to bring the baby to see their birth parents regularly. You will need to be emotionally resilient and be able to balance the uncertainty early permanence creates, with the benefits it brings for the child.
At Bedford Borough Council our team will talk with you about early permanence and provide you with additional information and training to allow you to decide if early permanence is right for you and your family.