The Concurrent Planning Service was launched in 2014 as a partnership service delivered by Caritas Care and Adoption Matters, working with 4 Regional Adoption Agencies (RAAs) in the North West. When the service was launched, Early Permanence* was in its infancy across the country (*Early Permanence includes both concurrent planning and fostering for adoption). Just 4 years later, the service celebrated its 100th placement and became the largest service of its kind in the country.
Over the last 3 years, the adoption landscape has changed significantly with a huge shift towards modernising adoption and the development of Early Permanence within all regional adoption agencies and local authority children’s teams.
Our service was mentioned as a good practice model in the National Adoption Strategy 2021 when an initial £500K of funding was then given to RAAs to “improve Early Permanence arrangements in RAAs and to increase the number of children put forward for an Early Permanence placement. This will include: training for both agency staff and prospective carers; training for the judiciary, local authority legal teams and CAFCASS; funding regional advocates to ensure that Early Permanence is considered as a potential placement type in every suitable case; encouraging RAAs to apply for the Early Permanence Quality Mark’
This was a huge step forward for Early Permanence and meant that many more children across the country could benefit from the innovative practice.
We are so proud that Early Permanence is now high on the agenda for all children’s services professionals and that its importance in reducing moves or disruptions in children’s early relationships is recognised as good practice; as we know this is crucial for future attachment.
As Early Permanence has grown, it is for this reason that we have made the decision to move our concurrent planning service staff back into our two partner adoption agencies, Caritas Care and Adoption Matters. This enables them to bring their wealth of experience into the teams and further embed that innovative practice developed over the last 9 years.
We are so very proud of all that our service has achieved, and we hope you are too as we couldn’t have done any of this without you. Just some of our achievements include:
- The Concurrent Planning Service grew to be the largest service of its kind in the UK placing 187 children with our carers and welcoming 146 new carers to our service
- Our carers supported 18 reunifications to birth families, supported by our service, many of those carers went on to concurrently care again and/or adopt.
- We were pivotal in driving research and change in the Early Permanence arena
In March 2021, we hosted a launch event for research which was commissioned and funded by our service together with Barnardo’s in order to gain a better understanding of early permanence approaches and how they can be better developed. “Understanding Early Permanence: A small scale research study” by Rebecca Brown and Claire Mason (University of Lancaster).
- Over 170 delegates joined the launch event from across the country (and two from the USA!) on Zoom joining a number of presenters alongside the lead researchers Rebecca Brown and Claire Mason including: Dr. John Simmonds, OBE Director of Policy Research and Development at CoramBAAF, Research and Development Karen Barrick, then Head of Service Adoption NoW, Michelle Rawlings, Service Delivery Manager One Adoption West Yorkshire, Judith Sargent, Adoption and Fostering Operations Manager Yorkshire, Barnardo’s and Susan Swarbrick, CEO at partnership agency Caritas Care.
- Our Team Managers Julie Hogan, Kate Knowles and two of our concurrent planning carers were also invited to speak to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Adoption and Permanence (APPGAP) on early permanence in 2021.
- Our carers have shared many of their stories regionally and nationally helping so many other prospective carers through their videos, press interviews and podcasts including a podcast on Early Permanence in the latest #YouCanAdopt National Adoption Week campaign – a huge thank you to you all.
- We launched our ‘Guide to Managing Family Time’ – showcasing best practices in contact with birth families and are continuing to train our RAA colleagues in the North West.
- Our team continues to work closely with RAA colleagues in the North East to help share our best practice and learning to help develop early permanence in the region.
The service was innovative, pioneering and adaptable, constantly changing to meet the needs of children waiting. A service which led the way in the Early Permanence arena and our work has helped pave the way for many of the services now embedded across the country helping hundreds more children and families. We are so very proud of that.
Going forward, Caritas Care will continue to develop our early permanence offer to new families through our adoption teams. Early Permanence will remain a hugely important aspect of all our work as we know the positive impact it has for the children, our families and birth families.
 National Adoption Strategy 2021 – https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1006232/_Adoption_strategy_.pdf
 “Understanding Early Permanence: A Small scale research study” https://www.cfj-lancaster.org.uk/files/documents/Early%20Permanence%20Brown%20and%20Mason%20FINAL%20Feb%202021%20LAUNCH.pdf