AMENDMENTIn March 2019, Section 3, Security Retention and Sharing of Records was updated in line with Adoption and Care Planning (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2018, which provides that an adoption agency may disclose an adoption case record to another adoption agency for purposes related to either agency’s functions as an adoption agency. Further information was added in relation to adoption records where an Adoption Order is not made.
An Adoption Case Record for a child should be opened as soon as there is an adoption plan for the child i.e. once adoption has been identified as the permanence plan for the child at their Looked After Review or, where a child has been relinquished for adoption, as soon as the parent's request for adoption has been made. The Adoption Case Record is separate from the child's existing electronic social care case record/file.
The child's electronic social care case record should indicate that a separate Adoption Case Record exists but and must not include information in relation to the new identity or address of the child or any information whereby the child's pre and post-adoption identity could be linked. Such information should only be contained on the Adoption Case Record. This principle applies to information kept in whatever form - electronic, hard copy or microfilm.
Where the plan relates to a group of siblings, there must be a separate Adoption Case Record for each child.
An Adoption Case Record should also be opened for every prospective adopter as soon as a formal application has been received. In the case of a couple, a joint case record can be set up for them both. This also applies to foster carers wishing to be considered as adopters.
The child's Adoption Case Record should contain the following information and documents:
It is essential that all case records reflect the supervisory process and comprehensive management overview.
Note: Where the Adoption Service places a child with an adopter or adopters approved by another adoption agency, an Adoption Case Record for the prospective adopters must still be set up and maintained in the Adoption Service.
Adoption Case Records must be stored in secure conditions. Paper records should be kept in locked cabinets. Electronic records should be password protected.
In cases where an Adoption Order is made, children's Adoption Case Records will be retained for a minimum of 100 years after the Adoption Order is made. The Adoption Service Manager will first ensure that the Adoption Case Record is complete, and especially contains the 'Later in Life' letters and Post-Adoption Contact Agreements.
Where an Adoption Order is not made, an adoption agency must keep the child’s case record and the prospective adopter’s case record for such period as it considers appropriate.
Where an Adoption Order is not made and the agency decides to close the child’s adoption case record, it should transfer the information from this record to the looked after case record, in which case see Looked After Children (see Looked After Children - Retention of Records table). If the child has never been looked after, the agency should destroy the records when no further action is necessary. An example of when this may be appropriate is if the possibility of adoption of a baby was discussed before the child’s birth, but the baby remained with the birth parents.
Where an Adoption Order is not made prospective adopters can be asked if they want their case records retained – in case they may wish to reapply to the agency or another adoption agency to adopt again - and to give their consent to the storage of the case record for whatever period is agreed, after which the record will be securely destroyed.
Whenever it is necessary to send any part of an Adoption Case Record by post, either within or outside the Council, the information should be placed in a sealed plain envelope and marked 'PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL'. When the external post is necessary, then arrangements should be made for copies of relevant documents to be sent by recorded delivery.
An adoption agency may disclose an adoption case record to another adoption agency as it thinks fit for purposes related to its functions or the receiving agency’s functions as an adoption agency (s.2 The Adoption and Care Planning (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2018, amending 8(2) of the Disclosure of Adoption Information (Post-Commencement Adoptions) Regulations 2005).