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4.3.7 Guidance on all References in Adoption

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in December 2011, links are made to Ex Partner Questionnaire and Adoption assessments / references guidance.


Following a working group from the recommendations of the Brighton and Hove Part 8 Review the following guidance has been produced in relation to queries about ex partners/adult children and interviewing significant support figures and taking up references in addition to the two current references we undertake currently.

As a guide we established the following:

Who is an Ex Partner and When Should they be Contacted?

  • If married or in a relationship for more than five years and living together within the last 10 years-to be contacted whether they had children or not. If the couple had children together they need to be interviewed. If not a letter may be sent, see Ex-Partner Questionnaire;
  • Advise the prospective adopter to let the ex partner know re: potential contact from the department.

Adult Children

  • All adult children should be contacted.

What Constitutes Contact?

We will only visit children if they live within a 30 mile radius. If outside of this, send a letter. If there is no response to the letter then follow up with a telephone call.

Regarding the ex partner where there are no children from the relationship - we suggest letter only. If there is no reply o the letter, then telephone. If there is no address for contact or the person is not contactable, then record this on the file unless other risk factors emerge in assessment.

What are we Checking?

Child Protection matters and the ability to parent.

What if they Refuse to?

If there are good reasons seek a view from panel before proceeding. E.g. Unresolved issues.

Information will be shared unless this poses a serious risk to the referee.

Grandparents/ Significant Support Figure

It is agreed that visiting a grandparent or significant other should be a standard part of the assessment if they are likely to be involved as a major support or if there are concerns re: extended family.

Current Employer

To write to current employers, use the standard reference request form with an accompanying letter. In addition, contact the previous employer if that employment was in a caring profession.

Headteachers/Nursery Teachers/Health Visitors

Contact to be made with the headteacher if a school age child in the family; nursery teacher if in pre school and health visitor if pre school.

In addition if a child has a disability or special needs then contact should be made with the professionals involved with the family directly. It may be a psychologist/paediatrician/ psychotherapist/ GP. (Adapt sample letter to head teacher for this purpose).

Guidance on Interview with Ex Partner

Interviews with ex partners are sometimes difficult and it is helpful to have some ideas about the areas to cover in the interview.

It is envisaged that the interviewer will engage the ex partner in a general discussion acknowledging that the relationship has ended.

It is important to look at the strengths in the relationship:

  • Was it supportive?
  • Was the relationship open/difficult to talk to; warm/distant?
  • Was it on equal terms?
  • What were the differences that led to breakdown?
  • Describe the temperament/ personality of applicant?
  • Do you continue to have a friendship on any level? Can you describe this?
  • What sort of parent was the applicant towards the children? Ask about each child?
  • Does the applicant continue to have contact with the children? Of not, why not?
  • Would you have any concerns about the safety of a child being placed with the applicant?

Guidance on Questions for Adult Children

Some ideas about what to ask adult children of applicants when we interview them:

  • Can you give me an overall impression of your childhood?
  • How would you describe the way in which you were parented?
  • Do you feel you had a close relationship with your mother/father?
  • Can you tell me a happy memory with your mother/father?
  • Can you tell me a sad memory with your mother/father?
  • Can you describe an occasion when your mother/father has supported you in a time of crisis?
  • How did your mother/father deal with you in adolescence? Did this bring up issues of growing up?
  • Can you tell me how boundaries were set or discipline maintained when you were a child? Were you ever smacked as a child?
  • Is there any aspect of you upbringing that you would not want to be repeated with an adoptive/foster child?
  • Do you have any concerns about your mother/father's suitability to carer for a vulnerable child, or the safety of a child placed either physically, emotionally or sexually?

For guidance on completing interviews and taking up references see Adoption Assessments/References Guidance.

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