Adopting a young child: Early Permanence

Early Permanence placements allow babies and young children who may need adopting to be placed with a potential permanent family earlier than a conventional adoption.

What is Early Permanence?

Early Permanence is an umbrella term we use when talking about certain types of adoption placements for babies or toddlers. It includes placements also referred to as Fostering for Adoption (FfA) and Concurrent Planning.

Early Permanence enables a baby or young child in care to find foster carers who are ready and willing to adopt them later, if the courts decide they cannot be cared for permanently by their birth family. 

Baby bath toys

Single mum Alice describes her experience of adopting baby Lily through Early Permanence

What are the benefits of Early Permanence?

Avoiding delay

Early Permanence helps to avoid delay in deciding a very young child's future, at a time in their life when days and weeks really matter. 

Minimising disruption

Children who are in the care system from a very young age are often moved around a number of foster carers, while the courts reach a decision about who will care for them in the long term. Research has shown that this level of disruption has a negative impact on a child’s mental health and development. 

Early Permanence removes this disruption by placing a child early on with foster carers who would go on to adopt them, if the court decides that’s in the child’s best interests. 

This means that, if the court agrees an adoption plan, the child has a seamless transition from foster care to adoption, without having to move from a foster home where they have settled to a new adoptive family.

A chance to bond earlier

With Early Permanence, a child can start bonding much earlier with the people who may eventually adopt him or her – in some cases a baby is placed with their early permanence carers directly from the hospital where he or she was born. In other cases, children are placed at a very young age from family, residential assessment settings, and sometimes foster care. In all instances children are benefiting from these early placements which may become their permanent family.

Better understanding of a child's background

Foster carers who go on to adopt a child will often have had a chance to get to know the baby’s birth parents during the court process. They will get to know more about the baby’s background and the circumstances that led to him or her being placed in care, which will support their care of the child as foster carers and adopters if adoption is the final plan. This is also a benefit for contact and life story work if the child is adopted.

Is Early Permanence right for me? 

The young children involved are some of the most vulnerable in the care system. To be an Early Permanence carer, you need to be able to prioritise a child's needs and give them the precious gift of stability at a time of great uncertainty in their lives. 

We only work with children 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 a baby will be returned to the birth family.

We will work with you to prepare you for this outcome in a range of ways: 

  • specialist preparation, with tailored workshops
  • intensive, high-quality support throughout the process of fostering and adoption, and beyond
  • help to access fostering allowances
  • supervised visits with birth families at a neutral location

Could I be an Early Permanence carer? 

Find out what it's like from people who have adopted a baby or very young child through early permanence, with our Early Permanence stories

If you’re unsure whether early permanence is for you - or have further questions, our social workers will be happy to help so please get in touch.  Meeting other carers is also part of the preparation for those who are seriously considering the scheme and making an application. So, let us know if this is something you would like to explore and we can help you decide if it's right for you. 

Read our Early Permanence adoption stories

Coram's trusted service

Coram has worked with early permanence carers for over 20 years.

In that time, we've helped more than 100 young children find stability through Early Permanence, with a remarkable success rate. 

  • Coram’s Early Permanence service received Outstanding in its most recent Ofsted fostering service inspection.
  • the average time for adoption from entry into care was 15 months compared with the UK average of 27 months (DfE 2012)

National leaders in Early Permanence

Coram also runs the national Centre for Early Permanence, which champions and promotes permanence practice to secure the earliest possible lifelong placement for children.

The centre operates as a national practice learning set for all adoption agencies, including local authorities, and offers conferences,training and tools such as materials for training prospective carers. Find out more on the dedicated Centre for Early Permanence website

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