Quality Mark Descriptors

There are 7 Quality Descriptors associated with the Early Permanence Quality Mark. The descriptors capture key elements of early permanence delivery. They will assist agencies in their early permanence delivery and in their application.

The descriptors are also used to guide the independent moderators in their review and decision on applications.

The descriptors are sector informed and are intended as ‘triggers’ for agencies during the application process.

Q1 How does the agency demonstrate the rights and practice principles underpinning Early Permanence?

Quality Marker 1: Principles underpinning effective early permanence delivery

  • 1.1 A child is matched with a loving family as early as possible within the child’s developmental timeframe
  • 1.2 Fostering for Adoption and Concurrency Planning is understood within the framework of Early Permanence and the legal continuum of placement options
  • 1.3 Early permanence is considered for each infant where the likelihood is adoption
  • 1.4 Early permanence keeps open the possibility of a return to the birth family, realtives and friends where this is the court decision from continuing assessments
  • 1.5 Agencies capture knowledge of those closest to the child, carers and birth parents to understand the child’s needs, and early life experience/life story
  • 1.6 Child safety and welfare is central to all decision making of the agency
  • 1.7 Mechanisms are in place to support birth families offering support and advice including the right to legal representation
  • 1.8 All parties work to promote best decisions, ascertaining wishes and feelings of the child and optimal outcomes
  • 1.9 Black and minority ethnic children, siblings and children with specific developmental challenges and needs are supported through early permanence

Q2 Show how your agency operates with others to promote positive outcomes for children through the early permanence planning process.

Quality Marker 2: Working in partnership to deliver early permanence

  • 2.1 Agency operates effectively with legal services, Cafcass, IROs, the courts and family justice boards for joined up delivery
  • 2.2 Agency operates with health professional and specialist services for early identification of a child’s health and developmental needs
  • 2.3 Agency works with childcare and safeguarding teams for joined up delivery where adoption is the likely outcome

Q3 How does the agency show a robust approach to legal and planning process and early decision making?

Quality Marker 3: Effective Planning and Legal and Practice Processes show mechanisms for early and effective decision making

  • 3.1 Fostering for adoption and dual approval /temporary approval as foster carers is evident in agency practice and clearly reflected in descriptions of the agency’s services
  • 3.2 Effective tracking tools are deployed to make timely decisions at the earliest stages via legal planning meetings, permanence panels or other agency meeting structures
  • 3.3 Shared approaches are in evidence between teams and agencies underpinned by practice tools e.g. Early Permanence Screening Matrix, Concurrency and Fostering for Adoption checklist for social workers, or those specifically designed locally
  • 3.4 IROs, ADM, Legal Teams, and Approval and Matching Panels are included and aware of agency’s Early Permanence Approach
  • 3.5 LAs and VAAs work to optimise capacity, capability and expertise to families and early needs profiling for adoption support
  • 3.6 The court process and legal representation for birth parents and arrangements for contact are aligned through the planning system
  • 3.7 Agency Decision Maker is engaged with the process for early permanence including matching analysis prior to Placement Order
  • 3.8 Tracking, planning and legal meetings are integral to identifying children early and interface with safeguarding, pre-birth conferencing and pre- proceedings, Cafcass Plus, family group conferences and the court process

Q4. How does the agency approach the recruitment of EP carers, their training and support in the Early Permanence process?

Quality Marker 4: Effective recruitment, assessment preparation and support of carers and matching processes are evident in agency practices

  • 4.1 Agencies share information and work together to ensure appropriate recruitment of carers for children, use of the national framework e.g. F4A to inform the public of their services
  • 4.2 Early Permanence is embedded in the whole of adopter recruitment from the front door to first contact and information meetings
  • 4.3 Carers are informed of the fostering for adoption and concurrency routes to early permanence
  • 4.4 Carers and their family members are appropriately trained with specialist and experienced early permanence trainers
  • 4.5 Carers and their family members are appropriately trained and supported as to the legal standing of the placement
  • 4.6 Carers and their families understanding the fostering role, the potential for return to the birth family as well as for adoption
  • 4.7 Carers are informed to understand the purpose of contact and sensitivity of the process in a fostering for adoption context
  • 4.8 Carers are made aware of the birth family rights and the legal process and supported to respect the family circumstances
  • 4.9 Where a carer/child match is underway all relevant health and family information is shared to optimise the care for the child
  • Q5 How does the agency engage and support birth families and relatives as part of the Early Permanence Process?

    Quality Marker 5: Effective delivery of early permanence in work with birth parents, family and friends throughout the process

    • 5.1 Practitioners communicate openly and respectfully with birth family and others, giving accurate information about the placement, the legal position and potential outcomes
    • 5.2 The birth family is engaged and supported from pre-proceedings and family group conferences and as plans develop given support/opportunity to make changes
    • 5.3 The views of birth parents are listened to and where plans ae contested their rights to representation and advocacy explained
    • 5.4 Professionals involved support birth families to reconcile which ever outcome is in the child’s best interest, via reunification to the family or adoption and by the courts decision
    • 5.5 Full support and guidance is available to birth parents who relinquish or abandon their baby and around issues of consent /and as relevant rights to independent advocacy and support
    • 5.6 Matters of race, culture, religion, language, identity and diversity are evidenced in positive practice with birth families

    Q6 How does the agency demonstrate consistency and effective delivery of child contact arrangements with family and friends?

    Quality Marker 6: Managing and supporting Child and Family Contact arrangements in early permanence.

    • 6.1 Contact plans and agreements are in place and informed by the child’s best interest and carried out as directed by the court
    • 6.2 Risk assessments are undertaken prior to Contact to inform plans and continuously monitored as contact plans are enacted
    • 6.3 Appropriately skilled staff supervise Direct Contact and offer continuity where possible
    • 6.4 Contact Supervisors are trained in early permanence including sensitivities in transition and handovers, confidentiality and escalation of issues of care, risk or safeguarding
    • 6.5 The contact environment is child friendly for babies/older siblings and accessible to the family
    • 6.6 The recording of contact is undertaken to a high and consistent standard any concerns are highlighted and shared appropriately
    • 6.7 Carers are prepared well and supported to facilitate the child’s contact, escorting, understanding the child and the birth family impact

    Q7 How does your agency show effective leadership of early permanence to optimise benefits for children?

    Quality Marker 7: People and system leadership and policy and practice capture

    • 7.1 Early permanence is integrated into the agency’s policy and practice as integral to placement options and likelihood of adoption
    • 7.2 Senior Leaders of the agency own and promote Fostering for Adoption and/or Concurrency as relevant placement routes for children
    • 7.3 The agency has identified an Early Permanence Champion with a clear remit and who is supported in the role
    • 7.4 Senior Leaders oversee and monitor with robust QA systems the identification children for early permanence and liaison across agencies
    • 7.5 Leaders ensure a practice culture of learning, reflective practice, critical analysis and case reviews that inform future practice and continuous learning
    • 7.6 The agency has a strategy for early permanence inclusive of roles of childcare teams/permanency teams, legal, Independent Reviewing Officers, Cafcass Guardians and Health and specialists clinical services, engaged in planning for the child
    • 7.7 Positive strategies and solutions are in place to avoid the pitfalls of sequential planning and there is active oversight of child tracking and avoidance of unnecessary delay
    • 7.8 ADMs and Adoption Matching Panels are informed and confident of their role in early permanence delivery and matching decisions
    • 7.9 Sufficient provision is in place to ensure legally safe and compliant processes that enable early permanence
    • 7.10 A holistic and systemic approach is taken to ensure oversight and joined up practice that is of high standard including CPRs, Court Reports and interfacing between services
    • 7.11 Quality assurance is robust, supported by systematic processes using case evidence and practice solutions operating to national standards and timescales
    • 7.12 Leaders inspire confidence and invest in staff training, access to case supervision and specialist consultation and utilise available networks