permanence and transitions

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Permanence

In England and Wales permanence has been defined in legislation as 

“The long-term plan for the child’s upbringing and provides an underpinning framework for all social work with children and their families from family support through to adoption. The objective of planning for permanence is therefore to ensure that children have a secure, stable and loving family to support them through childhood and beyond and to give them a sense of security.”
Children Act 1989, Guidance and Regulations Vol. II: care planning, placement, and case review (June 2015).

Long-term fostering in England

Across England, thousands of children live with their foster carers for many years. However, until 2015 long-term fostering had no legal status. The Fostering Network believes that the changes introduced in 2015 are very helpful in terms of introducing a consistent definition of long-term foster care placements across England, and in setting out the key steps and commitments involved for all parties. The changes rightly strengthen the importance of foster care as a permanence option for children and young people in care. 

Long-term foster care and permanence

Most children who cannot live with their birth family, or with kinship carers or family and friends carers outside the looked after system, will be fostered. There should be no hierarchy when it comes to permanence options; long-term foster care should have equal consideration as a permanence option alongside other options such as adoption and, in England and Wales, special guardianship. What is best for each child or young person will depend on individual factors.

What is permanence?

Many children who come into care return home to live with their parents. However, for those who cannot, there are a number of different permanence options in the UK. There is no hierarchy of permanence options; what matters is the welfare and wellbeing of each child, and finding the right home and family for them.
 

Adoption

Adoption is probably the most well-known form of permanence in the UK. When a child is adopted, their new parents take on full parental responsibility for their care as their legal guardian.

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