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Foster to adopt - A new approach to provide permanence to young children

Could you foster a baby or toddler with the possibility of adoption?

We are keen to develop a service for babies and toddlers in care who are likely to need adoption, but who still have a chance of being reunited with their birth family.

Why foster to adopt?

  • This service enables a child to experience good quality, uninterrupted, consistent care as soon as possible while detailed assessments of the birth family are being made
  • It offers the best hope of reducing future harm and promoting healthy development for the child.  It can also dramatically reduce the number of moves a child might otherwise experience
  • It allows the early months and years of a child's life to be what most children need and expect

What does this involve?

  • Babies and toddlers up to the age of two are placed with specially trained carers who foster them.  At the same time, the birth parents are given the opportunity to address any issues they may have, to enable the child to go back home
  • If after a period of time, it is decided that a return to the birth family is not possible, the child is matched with the foster carers on an adoptive basis as they have already been prepared and approved as adoptive parents

Why is it good for the child?

  • The child goes to live with potential adopters at the earliest opportunity and can form an attachment to the new family sooner.  Being specially trained, the foster to adopt carers are able to make a strong commitment to the child, even though there is uncertainty about his/her future

What are the benefits to the carer?

  • Foster to adopt carers have the immense satisfaction of providing stability and security for a baby or toddler at the crucial early stages of development, with the possibility that the infant may become their legally adopted child
  • Thorough preparation and training is given, plus a high level of support from experienced members of staff.  Carers also receive a fostering allowance and fees to cover the cost of caring for the child until either the child returns to the care of his/her birth parents or is adopted

Is foster to adopt right for me?

  • Foster to adopt carers are specially selected, assessed and prepared.  They go through the usual procedure for prospective adopters; however there will be additional training in respect of the fostering role.  They will be approved by the Adoption Panel and Fostering Panel
  • If approved by the Adoption Panel and Fostering Panel, they are recognised as foster to adopt carers, but are not available for any other fostering arrangements
  • The carers will then receive information on a child where it has been identified that this service should be considered.  The foster to adopt carers can then decide if they want to be considered for a particular child.  They will then be provided with as much information as possible about the child and their family background before a placement is made
  • During the fostering phase, social workers will be working towards reuniting the child with his/her birth family.  Regular supervised contact meetings between the child and their birth parents will be arranged.  Foster to adopt carers will be expected to meet with the birth parents and facilitate regular contact
  • If rehabilitation is possible, the child will return to the care of their birth parents and support for the foster to adopt carers will continue until the plan for the child is reassessed and finalised
  • If the plan is for adoption by the carers, the child remains with them and the child is formally matched with the carers for adoption
  • Whatever happens, disruption and damage for the child are kept to the absolute minimum and the child's best interests are given the highest priority
  • There are a number of things you will need to think about as a foster to adopt carer.  Initially as a foster carer you are caring for the child under the direct supervision of the local authority so you need to consider whether this is something you can be comfortable with.  (There will also be implications for your employment because you would not be entitled to adoption leave).  It is likely that you would go on to adopt the child, but you would have to deal with the uncertainty of the outcome.  You need to think about the possibility that the Court or Children's Hearing may not agree to a plan for adoption and the child may have to leave your care
  • It is important that you consider what support you might need, what access you have to support , and how you would typically deal with stressful, upsetting and painful situations

Foster to adopt is a service which we are keen to develop further.