Fostering and adoption services are an integral part of Leeds City Council’s work with children and young people. Over the coming months we will be hearing from a range of people working with, and as part of, our fostering and adoption services, telling the stories of the work we do for the city’s children and young people.
In today’s child friendly Leeds blog we hear from Heather Pipe, an adoption panel chair with Leeds City Council about her experiences of panel and what panel can be like for potential adoptive and foster parents…
“In Leeds we have four fostering panels and four adoption panels each month, which reflects the fact that we’re a large and busy service.
“Fostering panels consider the approval of foster carers and their continuation of fostering. This includes reviews of foster carers and ceasing the approval of a foster carer. Kinship foster carers also come to panel for consideration where the child placed with them will be there under fostering regulations.
“Adoption panels consider the approval of adopters and matches between children and adopters. Children being placed for adoption through the care system are considered by a senior manager, known as the agency decision maker, and then by the family court judge who makes the final decision.
“Panels always like to meet the applicants and workers concerned with a case – this gives them a better overview of the situation and enables applicants and workers to put their views forward in person, although the panel does have written information about each case in advance. This will have been prepared by the workers and the applicants will have had the chance to read and contribute to anything the panel sees.
“The panels have a variety of members, including a panel chair, social work members, health and education representatives and people with personal experience of fostering and adoption. There are also local councillors on some panels, which reflects the fact that our fostering and adoption agency is run by the local authority. The panel also has an advisor present, who is a manager from within the agency with relevant experience – their job is to answer any questions the panel may have about the regulations or the agency’s policies and procedures. There is also a minute taker present. The panel advisor and minute taker do not contribute to the panel’s recommendation.
“Sometimes workers ask to observe panel so that they can learn more about how it works; the panel chair will ask if the workers and applicants are happy for the observer to be present and the observer also remains silent for the duration of the panel and has no influence on the recommendation.
“Panels can only make a recommendation regarding each item, so after the meeting the minutes for each item are typed up and then agreed with the panel members before being sent to the agency decision maker for ratification. Once the final decision is made the workers are informed and letters are sent out to the applicants and anyone else who needs to know the outcome. Workers usually tell applicants the news as soon as they can so that people don’t wait any longer than needed – we try to get a decision within a couple of weeks of panel.
“The panel members really enjoy meeting workers and applicants and we’re very lucky in Leeds to have committed and experienced panel members. This means that most applicants say that they have a good experience of attending panel and feel that they are able to contribute to the discussion. Really, the panel just want to get to know people a little better, so although it can be hard to relax on the day, people just need to try to be themselves and say what they feel is important.”
A big thanks to Heather for taking the time to talk to us today!
You can find all the information you need about foster caring for Leeds at: http://www.leeds.gov.uk/foster4leeds/Pages/default.aspx
You can find all the information you need about adopting for Leeds at: http://www.leeds.gov.uk/adopt4leeds/Pages/default.aspx