Managing the transition between foster and adoptive care

Following the controversy over the way Haringey Council removed Baby C from his foster carer, Barbara Hutchinson, deputy chief executive of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, has some advice on how the transition from foster to adoptive care should be handled.

She says it would be best practice to manage the transition of a young child from foster care to adoptive care in three to four weeks but the time depends on the child.

She says: “The preparatory work would include doing life story work with the child, which would be done with the carer and a social worker.

“You would then do some introductions and there would be a visit by the new family to the foster home where the child feels safe.

“Over a few days or weeks the visits would become longer and the adopter may do things like make tea for the child, then the child would be taken out by the adopter and foster carer.

“What you are doing is gradually transferring responsibility so the child may then have an overnight stay with the adopters. Eventually, they will collect the foster child and goodbyes will be said.

“But sometimes the foster carer will actively work against you. There are cases where there is hostility and agencies will have to make intense efforts to work with the foster carer. But it may prove impossible to work to best practice.”

The General Social Care Council codes of practice also outline how social workers should manage such situations.

Code 1 says that social care workers must protect the rights and promote the interests of service users by: 1.4 respecting and maintaining the dignity and privacy of service users

Code 3 says social care workers must promote the independence of service users while protecting them as far as possible from danger or harm

Code 6 says social care workers must be accountable for the quality of their work and take responsibility for maintaining and improving their knowledge and skills by:

6.1 meeting relevant standards of practice and working in a lawful, safe and effective way.

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