The majority of the children placed (*90%) through our service go onto be adopted by their concurrent carers. They have the benefit of being placed with their potential permanent family early on and experience no moves or disruptions in their early relationships; we know this is crucial for future attachment.
After careful assessment and consideration, the court may decide it is in the child’s best interests to return home to their birth family and the child maybe returned to their care. Concurrent carers will have the satisfaction of knowing that they have given the child the best possible start in life by providing care and security from the earliest stages and will play at part in helping them settle back into their family.
Adoption Matters partnered with Caritas Care in 2014 to form the Concurrent Planning Service to offer this innovative route for some young children in the care system. The service is now one of the largest services of its kind in the UK and covers the whole of the North West including; Lancashire, Greater Manchester; Cheshire; Wirral, Merseyside and parts of Shropshire. We have now placed over 140 children through the service and approved over 110 individuals and families.
Children placed through this service are often much younger. During the last six years, nearly 70% of children placed through our service were under the age of 6 weeks. However, over the last six months this age range is growing and we are seeing a need for individuals and families to consider babies and young children aged from 1-2 years including, sibling groups.
Due to the young age of children placed with our concurrent carers, one carer, if applying as a couple, will need to be based at home full time for a minimum of 6 months of the fostering phase in order to help the child to form stable and secure early attachments and to facilitate contact between the child and his/her birth parents when you will be approved as a foster carer (see below).
In 2015, changes in legislation in relation to parental leave also applies to adoption. This was welcome news for families as it means that adoption leave can start from the point that the child is placed under fostering regulations. There is now also greater flexibility in the sharing of adoption leave between partners, if applying as a couple.
When the child is placed you will be entitled to a fostering allowance (currently £240 per week) for the fostering phase, which is a minimum of 6 months. This is an allowance payable per child and is for the child to cover equipment for the child and expenses incurred during the placement; including travelling expenses to and from contact.
Contact will be held on a regular basis with birth family and will involve transporting the child or children to a neutral venue agreed with the child’s local authority and ourselves. All contact sessions are supervised by a professional. We can discuss your role in contact and what is involved in more depth with you.
Should the plan for the child be adoption at the conclusion of the Court Proceedings, this allowance will cease to be paid and it is expected that you will have the financial resources to provide for the child for the remainder of their childhood. Your social worker will talk to you about your financial circumstances as part of your assessment.
You will be assessed and training through our dedicated Concurrent Planning Service team and offered tailored fostering and adoption training. The service run regular coffee mornings and support groups as well as specialist training. As an Adoption Matters approved adopter, you will also have access to the full training options through our Centre for Adoption Support.
Carers who go on to adopt with Concurrent Planning get to know and love their children from a very young age, often from birth, and help them through the time in their life when they are most vulnerable, this is something that may not always be possible with ‘traditional’ adoption.
You will also get to know the birth family of the child through regular contact sessions, which can form the basis for meaningful contact in the future if all parties agree. By getting to know family this can be a very important source of information for the child in later life and offer them real insight into their early start in life.
The service offers a high level of support to all their carers and adopters. You will be allocated a social worker within the team who will offer support and supervision on an individual basis throughout the duration of the placement.
We also offer an emergency, out of hours phone line for all of our carers which is staffed by an experienced member of the service, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
We offer also an ongoing and comprehensive programme of training and support to all our families throughout the process. You will have access to Caritas Care’s Fostering Service full training programme as well as a bespoke package of training and support through the service. In addition to this, as an Adoption Matters approved family, you will have access to our Centre for Adoption Support.
An example of some of the support offered through the service includes:
We welcome people interested in Adopting with Concurrent Planning irrespective of age, gender, ethnicity, culture, religion, sexual orientation, religion and disability, we have approved many single people too. We encourage people from many different backgrounds to suite the diverse needs of the many children in care who may access this service. Some of the things you will need to consider include:
One carer needs to be at home full time during the fostering phase of placement which is a minimum of around 6 months, we would encourage our carers to take more time off that the minimum and if a couple look at sharing their adoption leave.
You must be able to support the return of a child to their birth family if the court does decide through the process that this is in the child’s best interests. As hard as this is for our carers, they also take comfort in the knowledge that their care helped a family reunite and they played a very important role in helping this happen. Read Jess* story here on how she coped when a child placed with her returned home.
You must be loving, emotionally resourceful and at all times able to put the needs of very young children first.
You must be able to respect and work with birth families and prepared to support contact between children and their families on a very regular basis. All contact sessions are held at a neutral location and supervised by professionals but you need to be able to take children to and from contacts and meet with family.
You need to be prepared to deal with uncertainty. We will be with you to support you every step of the way.
You will need your own strong support networks such as family, friends who you can call on for emotional and practical support.