“We are realistic about the prospect of the child not staying with us, but we still believe that it is a win-win situation for the child; they will either stay with us, having experienced no moves, or they will return to a member of the birth family, which has to be the best thing, if possible.”
Adoption West believe that Early Permanence provides the best possible futures for children, we therefore give all our prospective adopters the chance to explore this option through training. The majority of adopters are approved as Early Permanence carers, so that our children experience fewer moves in their lives and can be placed with a family as early as possible, however it is a personal choice and you will be given the option to opt out of becoming an Early Permanence carer to follow a more traditional adoption journey.
Early Permanence refers to the arrangement where a child is placed with a family at the earliest opportunity. This is achievable by placing with approved adopters who have been prepared and assessed as suitable to undertake a temporary fostering role, they are then able to go on and adopt the child once the court proceedings have been concluded.
Early Permanence is usually, but not exclusively, used for babies and young children coming into care, they have a high risk of being unable to return safely to the care of their birth families. They are likely to need adoption but still have a chance of being reunited with their birth families. If the court decides a child’s future is best protected by adoption, the child already has a secure attachment to their carers who are now able to adopt the child.
Research shows that the longer the delay and the greater the number of foster placements, the greater the potential for damage to children’s mental health and development. Early Permanence arrangements are intended to lay the foundations for greatly improved health and emotional wellbeing throughout the child’s life by giving more stability during the vital early years of development. Early Permanence arrangements are already showing positive results in limiting delay and securing better outcomes for children where adoption is the likely path to permanence.
Early permanence shifts the stress and uncertainty about future placements from the child to the adults in the system and provides protection for the child against the impact of delay. Early permanence for babies and young children lays the foundations for greatly improved health and emotional wellbeing throughout the child’s life by giving more stability during the vital early years of development.
Benefits for the child of Early Permanence
- Develop a sense of belonging
- Have a sense of security
- Predict their future
- Develop close trusted familial relationships
- Acquire a “secure base” in attachment terms
- Develop a robust, positive identity
- Avoid the trauma of moves in care
- Avoid getting older in care and never having the opportunity to be adopted.
Qualities of early permanence carers
- Very adaptable – can manage the dual role as foster carers and possibly then adopters.
- Very resilient – can cope with the idea of and the actual potential loss of the child.
- Child centred – willing to take on emotional pain and uncertainty so the child doesn’t have to.
- Able to manage (practically and emotionally) contact arrangements.
- Able to manage the anxiety and uncertainty during proceedings.
- Well supported by a robust support network who also understand EP.
- Have received specialised preparation, assessment and support.
“Whilst we ultimately wanted to adopt a child, we were also interested in fostering. Early Permanence gave us the opportunity to do both and we thought hard about how we would feel if a child were to return to the birth family, and whether or not we could cope with it. The outcome for us was positive as the child we had in a early permanence placement has stayed with us, meaning we had them 4 or 5 months earlier than we otherwise would have – this enabled us to work on attachment at a critical stage which we would have missed out on if they’d gone through traditional adoption. The process was incredibly challenging but it was worth it a hundred fold. It is impossible to know the risk and likelihood of the child going back to birth family so it’s important that early permanence carers feel able to cope with this potential eventuality and have a good support network. Whatever the outcome, you’ll be doing something wonderful and important for a child that really needs it – and possibly for the first time in their life, the adults will be taking the risk so that they don’t have to.”