Part 6 - Permanence - Key Functions of panels, specialist services and meetings in relation to Permanence Planning
Looked after Child Reviews
The core function of Looked After Reviews is to assess the progress of the Child’s Plan, in terms both of progressing actions in the plan and achieving outcomes for child and family. Where children are placed with alternative, or substitute carers, away from home, the Looked After Child Review has the key function of working towards sustainably good enough and secure care for the child. This entails continuous re-assessment of progress towards reuniting child and parents, on a sustainable basis, and adjusting the Child’s Plan accordingly.
Where the evidence suggests that reunification may not be possible, and as evidence builds in relation to this question, the Looked After Review plays a role in
- initiating plans to meet the child’s longer term needs by other means
- reviewing the progress of both avenues in the Child’s Plan, while both remain viable
- assessing the relative likelihood of their success and
- deciding or recommending, at the appropriate point in time, the route that should be pursued.
The functions of the Children’s Hearing in relation to permanence are similar, in general terms, to those of the Looked After Review, but with important differences. While the child is subject to the jurisdiction of the Children’s Hearing, the Hearing has the responsibility for taking
- an independent view of the progress of the Child’s Plan
- placing additional constraints or obligations on the parties to the plan as it sees them necessary
- and is open to legal challenge.
There are key points in the progression of permanence plans at which the Children’s Panel must be consulted before specific steps can be taken, irrespective of the routine timescales for Review Hearings. These include
- the point at which consideration is being given to ending plans towards rehabilitation
- the point at which the agency has taken a decision to pursue a specific plan towards permanence.
Child’s Profile Meeting
The purpose of this meeting is to consider the child’s needs with a view to matching the child with potential placements.
The purpose of this meeting is to consider different potential routes towards permanence and to plan actions required to explore and pursue appropriate options, preparatory to a Permanence Panel or Young Persons Placement Panel.
The local authorities Legal Officers are responsible for the provision of legal opinion and advice, in relation to appropriate routes towards permanence and in respect of the strengths and weaknesses of the evidence supporting an argument in favour of a specific route. At key stages in the process such opinion must be sought, but advice may be sought at interim stages.
Fostering and Adoption Panel
The function of the Fostering and Adoption Panel is to make recommendations to the Agency Decision Maker about
- the suitability of applicants wishing to adopt;
- whether permanence away from home is in a child’s best interest and how to achieve this;
- matching children with particular prospective adopters;
- the best way forward when specialist advice is needed.
Permanence Monitoring and Development Group
The core functions of the Permanence Monitoring and Development Group are to oversee processes leading towards permanence in order to assist practitioners in avoiding drift and unnecessary delay and to analyse processes and statistics to inform strategic planning.
The Linking Meeting is convened if there is more than one adoptive or foster family that could be considered to meet the child’s needs, and its function is to decide which option or options should be pursued or explored further.
Agency Decision Maker
The decision-making function of the agency is carried out by a designated Agency Decision Maker, on the basis of the recommendations of the Permanence Panel and the information submitted to that Panel.
The function of the Coordination Meeting is to plan introductions between prospective Carers or Adopters, the current carers and the child.
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