The Matching Panel
When a child has been identified you and your family placement social worker will be asked to attend a matching panel who will make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker.
Your Family Placement Social Worker will share information about an identified child, this will include written information. Your assessment will be shared with the child's agency. Potential links are selected by the child’s agency social worker and they may select you to visit. Some agencies may visit one or more families but you will be made aware of this at the time of them meeting with you. Your Family Placement Social Worker will prepare you for the visit and will be present during the visit.
After the child’s agency visits you and if everyone agrees the link should progress it is likely that you will meet the medical adviser to learn about the child’s current and potential future health needs. Following this it is likely you will meet the child’s current foster carer to learn about the child’s day to day routines and likes and dislikes. The visiting social workers will inform you of their time scale for making a decision. You will have the opportunity to meet with any other significant figures in the child’s life to ensure you have a full picture of the child’s needs before making a final decision about whether you wish to pursue the link.
A linking meeting will then be arranged. This meeting will consider the potential link between the child, and you as the prospective adopters. This meeting will provide the matching panel with up to date information about the child’s needs and your capacity to meet those needs. Your social worker will attend this meeting to represent you and will advise you of the recommendations made.
Prior to the match being presented to the panel, you will need to consider preparing for the child moving to live in your home. At this stage we cannot pre-empt the panel’s decision, but mentioning the possibility of going on adoption leave to your employer, looking at equipment you will need, preparing existing children in your family and relatives could be some of the things you start thinking about. Being selected for a child from a different local authority will involve attending the panel in the child’s agency. If you have been selected for a child who lives a longer distance away, you will need to prepare for travelling and possibly staying overnight.
The Matching Panel will consider the child’s needs, views of the birth family, the linking process, the strengths and vulnerabilities of your family, preparation of the impact of the placement, contact, support needs and legal route. The Matching Panel will make a recommendation regarding the match, legal route and any financial arrangements to the Agency Decision Maker. You will be made aware of the recommendation on the day of the Panel and will receive written notifications of the decision within three weeks.