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Early Permanence

Early Permanence?

Have you heard of Early Permanence? This is a highly child-centred approach that seeks to reduce the number of moves a child makes whilst the court makes a decision about their long term future.

Have you heard of Early Permanence?

We know from research and experience that it is beneficial to minimise the amount of moves a child makes around the care system.  Early Permanence places a child with foster carers who are also approved as adopters, sometimes even straight after they has been born. If the court agrees that the child should be adopted then they will make a legal order which is called a Placement Order. The adoption agency then approves the ‘match’ between the adopters and the child and then child remains in the same home.

What are the benefits of Early Permanence?

Early Permanence provides children with good quality, uninterrupted and consistent care whilst the court decides on the plan for the child. Consistent care for the child reduces possible future harm and supports the child in developing healthy attachments.

Carers who adopt through Early Permanence get to know and love their children from a very young age, often from birth, and help them through the time in their life when they are most vulnerable, this is something that may not always be possible with traditional adoption.

Early Permanence carers have the immense satisfaction of providing stability and security for the child at their early stage of development, with the possibility that they may become their legally adopted child, if agreed by the court.

EP carers to get to know the child’s birth family through caring for the child whilst the parents are still involved and possibly through regular contact sessions. This can then form the basis for meaningful contact in the future if all parties agree.  Getting to know the birth family can be very important for the child in later life offering them real insight into their early life. Carers will also develop a better understanding of the difficulties that the parents have faced which will be immensely valuable when sharing information with their child as they get older.

If a child does return home to live with birth family, carers will have the satisfaction of knowing that they have given the child the best possible start in life by providing care, love and stability from the earliest stages and will play a part in helping them settle back into their family. Likewise, if the carers go on to adopt the child, the birth family will take comfort that they have met the family who is going to care for their child and they will know they are safe, loved and well cared for.

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Learn more about Early Permanence by listening to this unique interview with Anna and Scott who welcomed their son Noah through this route.


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Early Permanence FAQs

How is Early Permanence different from traditional adoption?

In traditional care planning for children, a child is placed with foster carers while the court makes decisions about their future. If the judge agrees that a child should be adopted, then suitable adopters will be found, and the child will move from the foster carers to adoptive parents

Because Early Permanence carers are approved as both foster carers and adopters, a child does not have to move. They remain with their carers who will become their adoptive parents if this is the decision of the court.

Early Permanence placements aren’t suitable for all children. They are considered for babies and children of all ages where Social Workers believe it is highly likely that the child will be adopted.

In what circumstances are children placed with Early Permanence carers?

An Early Permanence placement will only be made where there is clear evidence to the local authority that there is very little likelihood that the birth parents can resolve their problems or that other family members can take care of the child. This evidence will need to be substantial, for example where the parents have had other children placed for adoption and their circumstances have not changed for the birth of the new child.

What kind of people are Family Adoption Links looking for?

We welcome people interested in Early Permanence irrespective of age, gender, ethnicity, culture, religion, sexual orientation, religion, marital status and disability. We encourage people from all backgrounds to reflect the diverse needs of the children who need to be adopted. Some of the things you will need to consider include:

  • One carer needs to be at home full time during the fostering phase of placement which is a minimum of around 6 months, we would encourage our carers to take more time off than the minimum and if a couple you could consider sharing your adoption leave.
  • You must be able to support the return of a child to their birth family if this is decided by the court
  • As an Early Permanence carer, it is highly likely that you would go on to adopt the child that is placed with you, but you will have to manage a period of uncertainty before the court reaches a final decision. If the child does return home to their birth family, you would need to work, together with the local authority, to manage this in the most sensitive way for the child. It can be an emotionally difficult time for Early Permanence carers, even though it is judged as the right thing to do by the court. We will ensure that you are fully supported in your role whatever the outcome.
  • You must be able to respect and work with birth families and be prepared to support contact between children and their families on a very regular basis. All contact sessions are held at a neutral location and supervised by professionals, but you need to be able to take children to and from contacts and where possible meet with family.
  • You will need your own strong support networks such as family and friends who you can call on for emotional and practical support.

What age are the children placed through Early Permanence?

The care and experiences a child encounters in their first few months and years of life lay the foundations for their future development and emotional well-being. Therefore, most Early Permanence placements sought are for babies and very young children. However, children of any age benefit from being in a secure and loving home as quickly as possible so increasingly Early Permanence may also be considered for older children.

Can you offer Early Permanence if you already have children (birth or adopted) living in your family?

Yes, you can. As an agency we have a lot of experience of adopters with children in the family who have taken the Early Permanence route to adoption. Many of these families believe that already having children helped them manage the uncertainty and challenges.

What about adoption leave or pay or other financial implications?

Early Permanence carers are entitled to claim adoption leave and pay  from the point a child is placed with them under such arrangements. All EP carers will have their own circumstances and they should always talk to their employer to ensure their full entitlements.

EP carers will also receive a weekly fostering allowance for the child/ren who they are caring for. The child remains a ‘child in care’, so carers will not be able to claim child benefit. Fostering allowances will cease once the placement has been agreed at the adoption matching Panel or if the child returns to their birth family.

Will the child see their birth parents while decisions are being made about his/her future?

Yes, contact can be very important for the parents and the child, but any arrangements for contact must be centred on the child’s needs and welfare. In some situations, you will be expected to participate in the arrangements for the child to have contact with the parents or other family members. The specific arrangements for this will be discussed with you.

You may also get to meet the birth parents but the details and implications of this will be discussed with you. Your views about this will be an important part of this decision.

What support is available for Early Permanence carers?

When a child is placed in an Early Permanence placement, carers will be supported by their Adoption Social Worker who will provide advice and support. The carers will receive a fostering handbook and details regarding fostering requirements but also information about any training courses and support groups. The Adoption Support Worker will continue to offer support up until the point an adoption order is granted. If the child leaves the placement, the carers will continue to be supported to help them come to terms with the ending of the placement.

Family Adoption Links offer preparation groups for all adopters to help you in your decision-making process. During this training you will learn much more about the benefits, issues and expectations, to help you consider if this route to adoption is right for you. You will also have the opportunity to discuss this further with your Social Worker during the adoption assessment so that you can be clear about the task you would be undertaking. Find out more and book a place on our training.

Is there any training available?

There certainly is, we host a comprehensive virtual course where you will be guided through this route to adoption and offered advice and tips on Early Permanence. Find out more.

Can you suggest any further reading on this subject?

Why not take a look at this brilliant, free book to gain an even greater insight into Early Permanence.

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Being able to be there for him from the moment that his birth parents couldn't be is the biggest benefit of Early Permanence for us.

A and S

Listen to our latest interview with Alex who welcomed her daughter as an Early Permanence carer before going on to adopt her. From how she started her adoption journey to matching and the joys that her daughter has brought to her birth sons