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6.4 Family Finding


This procedure should be followed once the child's permanence plan of adoption has been agreed at the 4 month Looked After Review.


To provide clear guidance on the process of searching for an adoptive family for Children Looked After where adoption is the Permanence Plan.


  1. Referral for Family Finding
  2. Family Finding Meeting
  3. Finding a Family for a Child
  4. Proposal of a Match

1. Referral for Family Finding

Following the granting of a Placement Order, the Child's Social Worker should complete an Adoption Referral Letter (AD-04i) and forward it to the Adoption Team Manager.

The Adoption Team Manager will allocate a social worker from the Adoption Team to 'family find' for the child. Family finding is done in conjunction with the child's social worker.

2. Family Finding Meeting

Upon allocation, the Adoption Social Worker will contact the child's social worker within 5 working days. The purpose of this is to set a time to meet to discuss the options for finding prospective adoptive parents for the referred child.

Prior to the Family Finding Meeting, the Adoption Social Worker should have ascertained the likelihood of placing the child with prospective adopters within Calderdale MBC or, whether a match is more likely if the resources of the Yorkshire Adoption Agency and/or the National Adoption Register are used. Prospective adopters’ details are passed to the Adoption Register immediately after their approval (if they consent) if it is unlikely that there will be a placement with a child in their area or if no locally identified match is being actively pursued at the latest by 3 months.

At the Family Finding Meeting, the Family Finding Plan (AD - 05i) should be completed. The following should be specifically considered:

  • A decision about the most appropriate type of family for matching with the child's needs (i.e. single, a couple, same gender or ethnic minority);
  • Geographic considerations (within/outside Calderdale, where in Calderdale);
  • Whether Calderdale/ Yorkshire Adoption Agency/ Adoption Register families should be used. See also paragraphs 2.4 - 2.6 below;
  • Whether the child/ren should be advertised and where (i.e. Be My Parent, Children Who Wait);
  • Particular skills required by potential parents;
  • Whether the child/ren should be placed with other children;
  • Planning and timing of Should be Placed for Adoption (SHOBPA) as an agenda item at the Adoption Panel;
  • The progress and timescales of Care Proceedings;
  • Contact issues;
  • Preparing the child for adoption;
  • Consideration of the need for additional reports from other specialists;
  • Frequency of Family Finding Meetings - these should be held at minimum 3 monthly intervals in order to review the Family Finding Plan;
  • Any other considerations.

If the Adoption Panel recommendation of SHOBPA is made and subsequently ratified by the Agency Decision Maker (Head of Children's Social Care), and if there is not a link identified locally which is being actively pursued, then paras 2.5 and 2.6 should be followed by the Adoption Social Worker.

The Adoption Social Worker should refer the child/ren to the Coordinator, Yorkshire Adoption Agency and advise when it is appropriate for the child to go 'live'. This should be done at the latest by 3 months following ratification of SHOBPA.

The Adoption Social Worker may also refer the child/ren to the National Adoption Register. This should be done at the latest by 3 months following ratification of SHOBPA.

3. Finding a Family for a Child

Having decided how an adoptive placement will be sought for the child/ren, it is the responsibility of the Adoption Social Worker to begin the search. It is the practice of Calderdale Children's Social Care to initially consider potential families from within our own resources. If there are no suitable families, the search is then extended in the following order:

  • Yorkshire Adoption Agency;
  • National Adoption Register;
  • Voluntary organisations and other local authorities regionally;
  • Voluntary organisations and other local authorities nationally. 

The Prospective Adopter's Reports of any suitable approved prospective adopters should be read in conjunction with the Child's Permanence Report.

Issues to look for include:

  • One parent/two parent;
  • Identified skills;
  • Wishes as regards age and gender, number of siblings;
  • Age of child and whether a parent needs to be at home full time/most of the time;
  • Whether child care arrangements will be required;
  • Geography in relation to the child's birth family.

If there is more than one possible family, those examined should be 'graded' on order of preference (i.e. those who most nearly meet the child's requirements). It should be remembered that there is no 'perfect family'.

The Prospective Adopter's Reports should then be passed on to the child's social worker for the same exercise to occur.

Once both workers have examined the Prospective Adopter's Reports it should be decided as to whether a visit to the prospective adopters should be made. If the decision is to meet with them, the Adoption Social Worker for the prospective adopters is informed.

If there has been a high response to advertising for a child/children, discretion should be used in deciding how many families to interview. It is desirable to see the most suitable families who live within reasonable distance of Calderdale before visiting distant families.

The Adoption Social Worker (Prospective Adopters) may or may not have informed the prospective adopters that a match is being considered for them. At the point the Adoption Social Worker (family finder) and the child's social worker decide to meet the prospective adopters, they should be given a copy of the Child's Permanence Report and sufficient time to discuss it and decide whether they wish to be given more information.

The Adoption Social Worker for the prospective adopters should be fully informed about the child and their needs and, knowing the prospective adopters, be able to discuss with them any vulnerability in taking that child.

Once the prospective adopters have decided that they are interested in the potential match, they should meet with the social workers to gain more information. A meeting should then be set up between the Adoption Social Worker (family finder), the child's social worker, the prospective adopters and their Adoption Social Worker. All involved should have formulated questions to elicit further information.

Where a match is being considered, the placing agency must provide full access to the child’s adoption case record to the prospective adopters’ social worker.

Following this meeting, the parties will decide whether they wish to:

  • Obtain further information or meet with other professionals involved with the child/ren (i.e. school, Community Medical Adviser, therapist);
  • Obtain further information from the prospective adopters;
  • Proceed on the basis of the information presented (prior to a meeting with the current foster carers);
  • Not proceed.

A meeting should then be arranged by the child's social worker. Those attending will be: the child's social worker, Adoption Social Worker for the prospective adopters, the foster carers' fostering-social worker, the prospective adopters and the current foster carers. It may also include the Adoption Social Worker (family finder) if considered appropriate.

The purpose of this meeting is to give people an opportunity to discuss the child's progress and continuing needs first hand with the current foster carers.

4. Proposal of a Match

Once a decision is made about the most appropriate match for the child/ren, an Adoption Placement Report (AD - 06i) should be prepared by the child's social worker for the Calderdale Adoption Panel.