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STANDARD 17 - Adoption panels and agency’s decision-maker

(Adoption Agencies)


  • The adoption panel and decision-maker make timely, quality and appropriate recommendations/decisions in line with the overriding objective to promote the welfare of children throughout their lives.


The adoption agency implements clear written policies and procedures on the recruitment to and maintenance of the central list of persons considered by them to be suitable to be members of an adoption panel (“the central list”) and constitution of the adoption panel.


Adoption panels provide a quality assurance feedback to the agency every six months on the quality of reports being presented to the panel. This includes whether the requirements of the Restrictions on the Preparation of Adoption Reports Regulations 2005 have been met, and whether there is a thorough, rigorous, consistent and fair approach across the service in the assessment of whether a child should be placed for adoption, the suitability of prospective adopters and the proposed placement. This sub-standard is linked to standard 25.


Adoption panels meet at least one day every month to consider cases before it unless it is an adoption panel of a small voluntary adoption agency* when it meets at least every six weeks to consider the suitability of a prospective adopter to adopt a looked after child or the termination of approval of a prospective adopter.

*Seven full-time social workers or the equivalent but does not include the manager or branch manager as defined in the National Care Standards Commission (Fees and Frequency of Inspections) (Adoption Agencies) Regulations 2003/368 as amended.


All necessary information is provided to panel members at least five working days in advance of the panel meeting to enable full and proper consideration.


Prospective adopters are given the opportunity to attend and be heard at all adoption panel meetings which discuss their brief or full prospective adopter’s report prepared on their suitability to adopt a child, or termination of their approval, as applicable.


Adoption panels make a considered recommendation on whether the child should be placed for adoption within six weeks of the statutory review where adoption was identified as the permanence plan.


The adoption panel makes a considered recommendation on the proposed placement of a child with particular prospective adopters within six months of the adoption agency’s decision-maker deciding that the child should be placed for adoption.


Where these timescale have not been met, the panel records the reasons in the written minutes of the panel meeting.


The panel chair ensures written minutes of panel meetings are accurate and clearly cover the key issues and views expressed by panel members and record the reasons for its recommendation.


The decision-maker makes a considered decision that takes account of all the information available to them, including the recommendation of the adoption panel and, where applicable, the independent review panel, within seven working days of receipt of the recommendation and final set of panel minutes.


The child’s birth parents and prospective adopters, as appropriate, are informed orally of the decision-maker’s decision within two working days and written confirmation is sent to them within five working days.