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6.2.16 Permanency Panel Procedure


Permanence Planning Guidance

Child Arrangements Orders Procedure

Special Guardianship Orders Procedure

This chapter was added in September 2012.


  1. Introduction     
  2. Role and Function of the Permanency Panel
  3. Membership
  4. Appointment
  5. Chair
  6. Quoracy    
  7. Term of Office  
  8. Frequency of Meetings
  9. Decision Making
  10. Administration
  11. Reports to Panel
  12. Representations and Attendance  
  13. Complaints
  14. Appeal Process
  15. Feedback/Monitoring    

    Appendix 1: Permanency Panel Agenda for Each Case

1. Introduction


It is the Policy of Wirral Council to ensure that each child or young person for whom a permanent placement is required is carefully matched. Factors to consider in matching for the child include the purpose of the placement, the child’s need for continuity, the wishes and feelings of the child, equality issues of culture and community. Consideration also needs to be given to education and the need to achieve continuity in the child’s education; and to the health needs of the child and whether any specific action needs to be taken to ensure these needs are met.

In relation to the proposed carers, factors that should be taken into account include the skills, and the specific experience of the carers, the length and quality of the placement and the strength of the attachment. Where there are issues in respect of the age and health of the carers these may be addressed by means of a support package, if it is assessed to be in the child’s best interests to remain in the placement on a long term or permanent basis. In all situations of potential or actual conflict of needs, the key consideration that must guide the process is the welfare of the child.

Sometimes it is not always possible to identify a perfect or ideal match. It is the role of Panel to ensure all relevant factors have been considered, and have been balanced against one another and the needs of the child prioritised. In deciding on a match consideration has to be given to the potential damage caused to the child of delaying a decision. The longer a child spends in temporary care, the more difficult it is for that child to make the necessary social and emotional adjustments and to achieve his or her potential. In order to decide whether a carer or a particular placement will be appropriate as a permanent placement, it is important to be clear about what is the desired outcome, and how this can be best achieved.

Legislative Framework

The Panel known as the Permanency Panel has been established within the legislative framework of:

  • The Children Act 1989;
  • The Adoption and Children Act 2002;
  • Special Guardianship Regulations 2005.

2. Role and Function of the Permanency Panel

The Panel shall consider:

  1. The suitability of carers to become Special Guardians in all cases i.e. child in care, child in care proceedings, Child in Need and private applications where the Local Authority has had not previous involvement;
  2. The suitability of carers to have Child Arrangements Orders where the child is a Child in Need or where the child is in care and they are the Foster Carers for the child;
  3. Support packages, including financial support, where the applicants to Special Guardians or Child Arrangements Orders meet the eligibility criteria for support (see Permanency Panel Procedure).

The Panel cannot make decisions on the above. The Panel will make recommendations to the Agency Decision Maker.

The panel will be mindful when making recommendation that the original intention of Special Guardians was to provide a forever family where Adoption was not appropriate such as:

  • For long term fostered children;
  • To address vertical/ horizontal skewing of relationships when it is not appropriate for Grandparents or siblings to become parents;
  • Where religious and cultural issues prevented Adoption;
  • For asylum seeking children.

The panel is not there to provide general advice but to consider clear proposals for permanence.

3. Membership

A Central List of potential members for permanency panels will be maintained.

The Central List will include the following:

  • Senior Manager, Children’s Resources who will act as the Chair;
  • The LAC Service Manager who will act as the Vice Chair;
  • One district manager, Principal Manager, Team or Practice Manager;
  • The Financial Assessment Officer;
  • One Independent Reviewing Officer or Foster Carer review officer;
  • The Adoption Support Services Advisor;
  • Social Worker representatives including both children’s Social Workers and Supervising Social Workers (Fostering Service);
  • A representative from the Family Group Conference service;
  • Independent Members - young person, carers.

In addition the following can be invited to attend the panel in an advisory capacity:

  • Legal services;
  • Planning Officer.

Attempts will be made to ensure that equality and diversity will be reflected in the membership of each panel.

4. Appointment

The Head of Specialist Services shall have delegated authority from Wirral Council to approve and administer the appointment of members to the central list, in consultation with members of the Specialist Services Management Team.

5. Chair

In the absence of the Chairperson, the Vice Chair will assume responsibility. In the absence of both Chair and Vice Chair, any other member of the Panel can assume responsibility.

6. Quoracy

A quorum shall consist of no less then 3 people from the Central List.

7. Term of Office

People who are included on the Central List, other than the chair and the vice chair, can ask to be removed from the central list at any time by giving one month’s notice to the chair.

One month’s notice in writing will be given, with the reasons of removal of anyone from the central list, when the chair considers they are unsuitable to remain or they are unable to remain on the central list.

Once appointed to a Permanency Panel an individual’s membership can only be terminated if they are unsuitable to or unable to consider a case. Terminating the individual’s appointment to the Panel is not the same as removing their name from the Central List.

The Panel will decide from time to time the tenureship of members of the Central List.

8. Frequency of Meetings

Panel shall meet every month dates to be agreed and circulated twelve months in advance. If necessary, extra ‘emergency’ meetings can be convened if required. At least once a year, the Panel should hold a ‘business’ meeting to review performance and debate general issues. At the business meeting, the key issues to be incorporated into an Annual Report will be identified. The Panel Chair, in consultation with the Vice Chair will prepare an Annual Report, which will be provided for the attention of the Specialist Services Management Team. This should be available in April every year.

9. Decision Making

All decisions will be made by the Head of Specialist Services Children’s Specialist Services based on consideration of the recommendations of the Permanency Panel.

The Permanency Panel should make every effort to reach a consensus on all recommendations. In the event that consensus cannot be reached, the Chair will report to the Head of Specialist Services identifying the areas of disagreement.

10. Administration

In attendance at Panel will be the panel administrator who will minute the discussion, which is then forwarded to Panel members for any amendments to be made. The Chair will have the final decision on the content of the minutes.

The minutes along with any financial agreements prepared by the financial assessment officer and any previous Panel minutes are then sent to the Agency Decision Maker.

The Agency Decision Maker will consider Panel’s recommendations and make a decision within 7 working days of receiving the minutes. See Special Guardianship Orders Procedure for further details of the process.

The signed minutes for each case are sent to the Social Worker for the child. It is the responsibility of the child’s Social Worker to inform the child, the carers and the child’s parents, of the agency decision. This should be done verbally and in the case of the carers and the child’s parents, this should be followed up by a letter.

The signed panel minutes and financial agreements are also sent to the financial assessment officer who will contact the carers to inform them of the decision about any financial support and obtain their signed agreement.

The Minutes should be circulated to Panel Members, who will be asked to agree them as a true record at the following Month’s Panel.

11. Reports to Panel

The Social Workers should consult with their managers and agree a recommendation. Generally this will be as a result of the LAC Review, Legal Gate Keeping Meeting and/or Care Planning meeting, which will involve the Social Worker for the child, the Social Worker for the carers and others as appropriate.

The proposal should be discussed with the child’s residential providers, with the child, if age appropriate, and with the birth family and significant others prior to Panel. Those consulted should be offered the opportunity to make individual representation to Panel. They should be informed about the Panel process and be given a copy of these procedures, if requested, along with a copy of the complaints procedures.

The Social Worker must provide a report using the Permanency Panel report template that detail the child’s story, the suitability of the carers to provide a permanent home, their financial position and any recommendations for support. The Special Guardianship, draft schedule 21 report, can be submitted to Panel as the report if it will assist the Panel in making its deliberations.

The Social Worker should note that there is a final submission date for papers which is 10 working days prior to the Panel date.

Following Panel any printed copies of reports should be returned to the panel administrator for destruction/ secure storage.

If the child has a ‘should be placed for Adoption plan’ which has gone to Adoption Panel and been agreed and the plan is now being changed to one of Child Arrangements Order or Special Guardianship, the Social Worker for the child needs to come to Permanency Panel for the Care Plan to be ratified and then to submit a ‘change of plan’ report to the Adoption Panel for the change of plan from Adoption to be agreed.

12. Representations and Attendance

The presenting Social Worker for the child shall attend Panel to discuss the case. She/he will attend for the entire discussion and should be accompanied by her/his Team Manager if so desired. The supervising fostering Social Worker / residential manager will also attend the discussion if appropriate.

Applicants will not generally be expected to attend the Panel but should they wish to attend, arrangements can be made following prior discussion with the Panel Chair. If applicants do attend, they will be invited to the latter part of the discussion on their application and will be asked to leave before a recommendation is made.

Children/young people may attend Panel with their Social Worker if the worker and their line manager consider this beneficial for the child/young person. Similarly to the case of carers, the child/young person will join the meeting after the initial discussion between panel members and the Social Worker, and will leave whilst Panel reaches its recommendation.

The carers, birth family, the child/young person may wish, and should be encouraged to, submit their views in writing by other means to the Panel.

Observers may attend Panel subject to prior agreement by the Chair.

13. Complaints

Any complaint about the process of the Permanency Panel should be submitted under the Complaints Policy and Procedure.

14. Appeal Process

Carers have 28 days to make representations to the Local Authority about any decisions made in relation to carrying out an assessment for support and any resultant support plan.

If representations are received in relation to any recommendations made by Panel and decisions by the Agency Decision Maker, the case and all relevant existing reports, together with any additional new information should be submitted to the Chair of the Panel who will decide if the case should be reconsidered by the Panel or should be considered as an appeal by the Director of Children’s Services. The decision of the Director of Children’s Services will be final.

15. Feedback/Monitoring

At the time of the Annual Report, a questionnaire will be sent to all those who attended Panel and feedback from this will be reported to the Annual Business Meeting.

Appendix 1: Permanency Panel Agenda for Each Case

  1. Confirm child’s details and reason for the case being presented to panel;
  2. Consider any previous recommendations at permanence panel;
  3. Confirm legal status and who has PR;
  4. Determine how this placement will meet the child s long term needs. Include where relevant how the carer has resolved the issues from their own experience of parenting;
  5. What are the carers understanding of expectations as permanent carers;
  6. What are the outcomes of DBS’s and other checks on the carers?
  7. Is the health of the carers suitable for the long term care of the children?
  8. What are the matching considerations including the children, the carers, the accommodation, identity and culture;
  9. Has the support plan considered longer term issues including the following: contingencies should the Special Guardian be unable to look after the child and legal advice regarding guardianship and inheritance, relationships with birth parents, contact;
  10. What are the child’s/young person’s wishes and views;
  11. Financial Support:
    • What type of financial support is being requested (periodic payments, single payment or payment by installments);
    • Under what criteria is the financial support being provided, as defined in regulation 6 (1) and 6 (2) of the Special Guardianship Regulations 2005 or according to the Wirral Policy for Child Arrangements Orders;
    • Are legal costs being requested;
    • Initial costs for accommodating the child and transport costs for contact may need to be specified separately as they are not means tested;
    • What is the start date for periodic payments? For LAC it should be from the date of the SGO. For non LAC it can be provided to support the placement. Usually will be from date of signing of agency decision maker (i.e. 7 days from date of panel) or if there has been a delay from the date that the case was first presented to panel;
    • When should the financial support be reviewed (minimum annually);
    • Are there any costs for alterations or adaptations for the home?
  12. Recommendation to Head of Specialist Services/Deputy Director, including the rationale for the recommendation;
  13. Actions and Panel decisions.