Children in prospective adoption placements

Allegations of Historic Abuse

Children's allegations should not be dismissed once they are considered to be safe in care, including those who are placed in an adoption placement or are adopted.

Children placed for adoption but not yet adopted remain the responsibility of the local authority that placed the child.

It is often the case that children will disclose abuse and details of trauma they have previously suffered, once they do feel safe.

The local authority should consider investigating allegations of historic abuse for a number of reasons, not least to consider any issues of significant harm to other children who may be exposed to similar risk now or in the future.

Whenever a child is placed in another local authority area the responsible local authority (the placing authority) should have notified the host local authority of that placement giving details of the child's name and date of birth and the name and contact details of the responsible social worker and placing local authority as well as the name address of the prospective adoptive parents.

Where a child is placed with prospective adopters and any allegation of past or current abuse or neglect is received then a referral must be made to the local authority area where the child and the adoptive family reside, i.e. the host authority.

The host authority is responsible for coordinating the strategy discussion/meeting but where a child is placed for adoption the responsible authority should be fully informed and involved.

The strategy discussion/meeting should decide which local authority will conduct any enquiries.

Where child protection enquiries are to be made by the host authority full cooperation must be given by any local authority and any agency that have information about the child.

Allegations Against Prospective Adopters

The local authority duty to undertake section 47 enquiries where there are concerns about significant harm to a child applies on the same basis to a child placed for adoption as it does to a child living with their own family.

Any person who receives information that suggests that a child placed for adoption may be subject to significant harm must refer the matter in the same way that they would about any other child. The practice guidance 'Managing allegations against staff, carers and volunteers working with children' should be followed.

When an allegation has been made against a prospective adopter their approving agency should be contacted and independent support should be offered to the prospective adoptive parent.

The approving agency should keep a clear and detailed record of any allegation made, actions taken and the outcome of an enquiry.

The panel that recommended the prospective adopters suitability to adopt must be informed of the allegation and outcome of enquiries.

It needs to be remembered that once children are placed with prospective adopters the prospective adopter gains some parental responsibility therefore legal advice should be sought prior to the local authority making a decision related to parental responsibility.

Legal advice will also need to be sought where it is likely that the local authority will be looking to remove the child from the care of the prospective adopter. There are rules in relation to how this can be achieved for example where an application for an adoption order has been submitted by the prospective adopter then leave of the court to remove the child will be required.

Adopted Children

Any allegation of abuse made by an adopted child including historic abuse, or any concern for an adopted child must follow the normal referral procedures.

Adoptive parents of children who are adopted have the same legal responsibilities for these children as any child born to a natural parent.

If an allegation is made against an adoptive parent, the circumstances would not normally require a referral to the LADO (unless the adoptive parents works with or cares for children or vulnerable adults in another capacity).

Sudden Unexpected Child Death in Infancy

"Domestic Abuse: Safeguarding Children and Young People" and Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Programmes and Associated Women's Services: Principles and Minimum Standards of Practice" North East England Regional Inter-Agency Procedures, 2005.