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4.3.6 Adoption Initial Visits Guidance


This chapter reviewed locally and updated in December 2014, it should be read in full.


  1. General Guidance
  2. Arranging Contact
  3. Visit/Interview
  4. Outcome
  5. Write up Visit
  6. Forward to Team Manager
  7. Additional Information

1. General Guidance

The purpose of the initial visit should be part information giving, part screening/assessment of suitability. The write up and return should be completed within 5 working days of the initial visit being undertaken.

All enquirers will have had access to an Adoption Information Pack. This is updated regularly and available on the internet at Leeds City Council. It is useful for workers to be familiar with the contents of this pack prior to the initial visit, so that they can clarify information if required. Most enquirers will also have attended an information meeting. Workers should also see: Assessment and Approval of Prospective Adopters Procedure and the National Gateway, First4Adoption website and e-learning components.

It is important to be encouraging of applicants, but also to be honest and realistic about potential, and to highlight any concerns. It is unfair to raise applicant's expectations when progressing their application is inappropriate or unlikely. If you are not recommending they proceed you should explain this clearly to them. If further discussion with a manager is required, this should also be explained, and applicants informed that the outcome will be confirmed to them in writing by the relevant manager. It will be appropriate on occasions, for workers to undertake a 2nd follow up visit.

2. Arranging Contact

Where possible contact by telephone to discuss interest and arrange an appointment to visit (within 2 working days of receipt of the request.) This will allow some discussion and initial screening to eliminate inappropriate and unsuitable enquiries. If the discussion is positive at this stage, then an initial home visit can be arranged (to be undertaken within 10 working days of receipt of the request).

On receipt of the Registration of Interest form, Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) paperwork will be sent with an acknowledgement letter. Please remind applicants of the need for identity evidencing documentation to be available - see latest DBS guidance for details. This can be outlined again in the letter confirming the home visit arrangements (template to be updated) with the stage one agreement template.

3. Visit/Interview

The following areas should be covered:

  1. Names/address/dobs/telephone numbers/email;
  2. Accommodation:
    • Smoke alarms and CO2 detectors are required and a home fire safety check should be undertaken by the local Fire and Rescue service in advance of any arrangement;
    • Applicants need to be made aware that a Health and Safety Checklist will be completed.
  3. Family composition:
    • For single applicant's also check relationship status and expectations.
  4. Interest/motivation:
    • A minimum of six months should have passed since infertility treatment was concluded;
    • Applicants need to be aware of the need to use contraception as required;
    • Any child placed for adoption must be at least two years younger than children in the family;
    • We would be very reluctant to accept an application to adopt an older child where there is a younger child in placement;
    • 2nd time adopters will not be considered until the first child is at least 3yrs of age and at least twelve months has passed since the first adoption order was granted.
  5. Thinking about adoption:
    • Are there any questions arising from the information evening?
    • Current demographic profile of children waiting for adoption in Leeds;
    • Early Permanence Placements;
    • Talking about adoption – do they have any questions?
    • Contact in adoption and birth parent meetings – do they have any questions?
    • Adoption support services - do they have any questions?
    • Explain the assessment process, including tools. Discuss the Attachment Style Interview as one tool in use.
  6. Employment/experience:
    • Will they be able to take sufficient time off work to meet the child's needs?
    • Are they financially stable and do they have any significant debts?
    • Have they ever been bankrupt, and how has this been resolved?
  7. Support networks (extended family/neighbours/friends);
  8. Statutory checks and references:
    • Please ask applicants to tell us about any convictions;
    • Prospective adopters should be specifically asked to identify anything that they know of that may preclude them from adopting;
    • Have they had help or support from other agencies e.g. Health or CAMHS?
    • Please ensure applicants are aware of our policy on contacting employers, headteachers, health visitors, ex partners, adult children; and of taking up references with family members etc.
    • Please make it clear to applicants that if their application progresses, and they have lived in another country in their adult life, then they will need to take all reasonable steps to get a certificate of good conduct or a police report from that country, and we will reimburse any costs involved. If this is not possible and all reasonable steps have been taken, then they will be required to provide an additional reference to ascertain their good character during the time they were living abroad.
  9. Medicals and health:
    • Check drink, drugs, weight (BMI) issues;
    • Please ask applicants specifically if they have ever suffered from anxiety or depression and record their responses clearly;
    • Complex issues will require early medicals to be undertaken and agreement of the medical adviser before proceeding.
  10. Smoking policy;
  11. Pets;
  12. Corporal punishment;
  13. Training:
    • Applicants also need to be aware of the four full days preparation/training requirement with compulsory attendance of all applicants at all days. Dates should be given and availability to attend confirmed;
    • Safebase attendance is also strongly encouraged;
    • 2nd time adopters attending preparation/training more than five years ago will be required to attend preparation/training again in full. Those attending preparation/training less than three years ago will be required to attend the one day 2nd time adopters training provided via the consortium.

The two stage assessment process, and tight time framework requirements around this should be clearly explained.

Please discuss with the adopter(s) whether they may be interested in fostering a child for whom the plan is likely to become adoption, but where other options for the child have not yet been ruled out. Such placements are known as Fostering for Adoption (FFA) and include practices such as concurrent planning.

Please remember that this is guidance only, and that professional judgement needs to be exercised in each case based on the circumstances presented.

4. Outcome

If the outcome of the interview is generally positive, please evidence the DBS forms.

The Stage One Agreement/Prospective Adopter Plan (PAP) should then be completed by the adoption social worker following the visit and passed to the adoption team manager with the initial visit write up. It will then be signed off by the ATM and returned with the IHV outcome letter.

The worker allocated the initial visit will continue to link with the prospective adopter throughout the stage one process to guide and assist, and will undertake the assessment where possible.

5. Write up Visit

Please confirm visit date and write up using the headings in Section 3, Visit/Interview. Highlight any outstanding DBS/health/stat check/medical/reference issues clearly and add paragraphs headed Suitability/Impression and conclude with a clear Recommendation which is signed and dated.

It is important that any reservations you have are shared openly with the applicant(s) and that they are clear about the recommendation you will be making.

6. Forward to Team Manager

Attach the Initial Visit Report to the initial enquiry paperwork, and forward with the completed DBS form and Stage One Agreement/PAP to the Adoption Team Manager. A letter will then be sent to the applicant(s) confirming the home visit outcome and outlining the next stages of the process. They will also be sent the PAP an SAE for returning a copy of the PAP which has been signed by them, and a copy of the DBS check when received.

An electronic copy of the Initial Visit Report should be stored in the IHV folder on G Drive for future reference if required.

If not proceeding, return the initial enquiry paperwork to the Adoption Team Manager, with a write up explaining clearly your reservations as outlined to the applicant, and your recommendation. The Adoption Team Manager will write confirming the decision not to proceed with reasons. A copy of this letter will be emailed to the allocated workers for information. Advice will also be given of any steps to be taken in order to meet the criteria or of how they might pursue their interest elsewhere and details of the First4Adoption website will be provided.

7. Additional Information

It should be emphasised to applicants that if there are any issues at all in connection with medicals or checks, then they should inform us of these without delay.

Medicals will be requested during Stage One and the Agency Medical Advisor will need to confirm that the medical outcome is satisfactory before an application can proceed.

Where applicants disclose issues of concern in connection with the DBS checks, the application cannot progress until the checks have been returned and "signed off" by the Service Manager who must also give consent to the application progressing. There is a risk assessment pro-forma to complete as part of this process.