Early permanence FAQs

Are you interested in adopting a baby and have heard of early permanence but are not sure what it means? Read our frequently asked questions for people interested in becoming an early permanence carer to find out more. If you still have questions you can contact us, or come to one of our adoption information events.

Read more in our Adoption Information Pack

General early permanence FAQs

What is Coram’s early permanence?

Baby holding on to adult hand

Early permanence is an umbrella term which includes both Fostering for Adoption and Concurrent Planning placements. Both schemes enable a child in care under the age of two to find foster carers who are ready and willing to adopt them later if the courts decide they cannot live with their birth family.

It is aimed at helping babies whose birth families are still being assessed as to whether they can look after their baby or not.

How does early permanence work?

Local authorities refer babies about whom there is concern to Coram’s early permanence service. Coram places the babies with foster carers who have already been approved as adopters. This means they can go on to adopt the baby if the courts decide he or she cannot live with their birth family.

The baby may be moved from foster carer to foster carer while the courts assess the birth family’s ability to look after him or her. The whole process could take between six and 24 months - an awfully long time for a baby. 

What are the benefits of early permanence for the babies?

Because the foster carers with whom the baby is living have already been approved to adopt the baby it means there is a seamless transition from foster care to adoption - if that is what is decided is best for the baby.

Other advantages of early permanence  are:

  • It speeds up the planning of babies’ lives and avoids delay in deciding their future

  • It avoids the disruption of being moved from foster care to adoption

  • Bonding with the people who will eventually adopt him or her can begin right away – in many cases the baby is placed with the early permanence carers directly from the hosptial where he or she was born

  • The foster carers who go on to adopt them will have had a chance to get to know the baby’s birth parents during the court process. This means they will know all about the baby’s background and the circumstances that led to him or her being placed in care. 

Is early permanence right for me?

The babies involved are some of the most vulnerable in the care system. To be an early permanence carer you need to be able to prioritise their needs and give them the precious gift of stability at a time of great uncertainty in their lives.

A part of this is bringing the baby to Coram to see their birth parents during the court process. Hard as this sounds, if you go on to adopt the child you will be in a very special position. You will have helped your baby through the early, unsettling months when plans were still uncertain and got to know and love them from a very young age.

What happens if the courts decide the baby should go back to his or her birth parents?

We only work with babies where, based on the available evidence and the birth family’s past history, there is a probability that they will need adoption.  But it is the courts that make the final decision and there will be occasions when the baby will be returned to the birth family. We work with you to prepare you for this outcome.

Why choose Coram’s early permanence service?

Coram has been running Concurrent Planning since 1999 with a remarkable success rate. By 2011 Coram had placed 59 children with concurrent carers, 56 of them went on to be adopted by their carers, three were returned to their birth mother or relative.

  • The average time for adoption from entry into care was 15 months compared with the UK average of 27 months. (DfE 2012)

  • Coram’s Concurrent Planning service is validated by the Centre for Excellence and Outcomes in Children and Young People's Services (C4EO) a best practice hub for children's services used by local authorities across England

  • Coram’s Concurrent Planning service received Outstanding in its most recent Ofsted fostering service inspection.

Who can adopt a baby through early permanence FAQs

Mixed man holding a baby in his armsCould I be an early permanence carer?

Standard eligibility requirements for adoption apply, which mean you need to be over the age of 21, living in the UK and DBS checked. If you or a member of your household have a criminal conviction or caution for offences against children or for serious sexual offences, you will not be able to adopt. Adoption medicals are required to ensure you are in good health.

Do I have to be in a couple to be an early permanence carer?

No, you do not have to be in a couple or married or in a civil partnership. Single people have successfully become early permanence carers. It is important, though, that you have a strong support network to rely on.

Do I have to be employed to be an early permanence carer?

Your financial status and employment circumstances will be taken into consideration, but having a low income or being unemployed won’t automatically rule you out as long as you can provide a loving, stable and secure home for a child.

We do ask that there is an early permanence carer at home full time with the child until the court process is concluded and the baby is well settled with you. Generally, that means that one carer needs to be at home full time for 12 to 18 months.

Do I have to have had experience of looking after babies?

Coram’s specialist social workers will help prepare you for looking after a baby or toddler as part of the support they offer and also recommend sources of advice and information about baby care and child development.

Does having my own children stop me from being an early permanence carer?

Having children of your own does not prevent you from adopting or becoming an early permanence carer. But you would need to think carefully about how you would explain to your child that this baby is now being fostered and may return to the birth family. You need to be sure you can meet the needs of all the children.

Early permanence finances FAQs

What financial support is available for early permanence carers?

Young family with baby in strollerYou will receive fostering allowances from the local authority responsible for the baby during the fostering stage. If adoption is decided to be best for the baby you are entitled to the same statutory pay and adoption leave as other adoptive parents. 

Do I have to own my own home?

No, this is not a requirement but we are looking for carers who have residential stability whether this is as homeowners or tenants.

Finding out more about adopting a baby through early permanence FAQs

Can I talk to other couples who have adopted through early permanence?

Child's wooden play pramOur social workers will be happy to answer any questions you have so please get in touch. In addition, meeting other carers is part of the preparation for those who are seriously considering the scheme and making an application.