Early permanence

If you are interested in adopting a baby you may have heard of early permanence but are not sure what it means. Early permanence allows prospective adopters the opportunity to parent a baby or child during the early weeks and months of their lives.  As an early permanence carer you will offer a loving and secure home in which a child feels safe and settled as quickly as possible.

There are two types of placements:

  • 'Best for Baby' is specifically for babies from birth to two years old
  • 'Better Beginnings' is for children of any age

In both these placement types these children are more likely to be placed for adoption. A child's older siblings may have been adopted with little change in the family circumstances since then. Or parents may have high level needs themselves meaning they are unable to care for their child.

These type of placements are not a definitive plan of adoption. The courts will consider a plan of adoption and a plan of rehabilitation. The outcome will depend on whether birth parents are able to make the necessary changes to their lives to safely care for their child. When this is not possible a child will be adopted by their carers.

Other permanence arrangements include long-term foster placements. These are an important 'permanence' option for children and young people in care. Foster carers commit to caring for a child or children until they reach an age where they can live independently. Read more about long-term fostering.

Best for Baby

'Best for Baby' placements are designed to give babies and children under two years old a better start in life.

The young children are usually placed with 'Best for Baby' carers in a fostering arrangement. This is from birth or soon after, whilst the court decides on their future.

You may also hear professionals referring to this as Concurrent Planning.

Better Beginnings

 This type of placement is like 'Best for Baby', but is for children of any age. This may include babies but also older children.

 ''Better Beginnings'' enables children to be placed with their adopters earlier. They will act as foster carers so that bonds and attachments can form both for children and their carers. This benefits the child as it:

  • Minimises potential moves within temporary foster care
  • It provides them with stability at the earliest opportunity.

You may also hear this referred to as Fostering for Adoption.

A guide to early permanence placements

Read our guide to early permanence placements (PDF 1.64 MB) – in one handy information pack.

What our carers do

Both 'Best for Baby' and 'Better Beginnings' carers are assessed and trained as prospective foster carers and adopters. When a child is placed with early permanence carers, they act as foster carers for the child. They support contact with birth family members while the court decides the child's future.

It is important that carers work co-operatively with the child's family and professionals involved.

If a baby or child is considered for early permanence, this means there is a strong probability that they will not be returned to their birth family. The court may decide that the birth parents are able to meet the needs of the child.  If this happened the child's carers would help the child return to their birth parents. Carers will give the child the love and security that they need as well as helping them to settle back with their family.

Should the child be unable to return to the care of their birth family, early permanence carers adopt the child and become the legal parents.

Read Louise and Simon's first-hand experience of a 'Best for Baby' placement looking after a four month old girl named Chloe.

David and Katy have been through the process twice. They have now adopted a baby boy called Harry, who they cared for since birth.

Vicki and Rick give an in-depth account of their journey adopting twin baby boys.

How placements are different from standard adoption

In traditional care planning, a child is placed with foster carers while the court makes decisions about their future.

If the judge agrees that a child should be adopted suitable adopters will be found. The child will move from foster carers to adoptive parents. This process is called bridging.

As early permanence carers are approved as both foster carers and adopters, a child does not have to move. They remain with their carers who will become their adoptive parents if this is decided by the court.

These type of placements aren't suitable for all children. These placements are considered for babies and children of all ages where there is a probability the child will be adopted.

The advantages for children and carers

Early permanence babies and carers will enjoy a more secure start in life with greater stability and security. Other benefits include:

  • Minimal delays and repeated moves
  • Babies and children can be placed earlier in a permanent family. This may be with the birth family or with carers who will become the child's adoptive family.
  • If you adopt the child you have cared for, you will have the advantage of having looked after the child from a young age.

We ask you to be open about meeting the child's birth parents, where this is possible. This will give you a better understanding about the baby’s background and the circumstances that led to him or her being in care.

Jack's profile should help give you an idea of the children that have been placed with 'Best for Baby' carers. His story is based on a typical child's profile as described by one of our social workers.

Eligibility to become a carer

We will consider anyone who wishes to become an early permanence carer, regardless of:

  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Gender
  • Sexuality
  • Disability or
  • Employment status.

 You need to be over 21 and live within or near Lancashire with travelling time no greater than one hour.

The qualities you need

This isn't for everyone. You might feel you can't accept the small risk that the child might not stay with you permanently. But with our support, you'll know that you've given a child a better start in life whatever the outcome is.

You may feel that with the high level of ongoing support on offer you are prepared to try this alternative route to adoption. If you feel this is the right option for you, a social worker will work with you and carry out your assessment to ensure you are fully prepared for this role.

 The child may return to their birth family and there may also be uncertainty about their health and future development. Because of this you need to be:

  • Emotionally robust and resilient, to cope with a level of uncertainty about the child's future
  • Willing to adopt the child if this path is decided
  • Act as a foster carer and work with the birth family whilst looking after the child. If you are a foster carer for babies this will involve meeting birth parents about a couple of times a week
  • Prepared for the impact a new baby or child will have on your family, particularly if you have other children.

How to become a carer

The first step to becoming an early permanence carer is to make an initial enquiry. You can do this by contacting our Recruitment and Assessment team.

We aim for carers to be formally approved as both foster carers and adopters within six months. This follows the start of stage one of the adoption process (PDF 88 KB).

The assessment is presented to the fostering and adoption panels for approval as early permanence carers.

 Support available

 Throughout the process a high level of support and guidance is offered. This is provided by qualified professionals from our Recruitment and Assessment team. One of our social workers will work with you to carry out your assessment and make sure you are fully prepared for this role.

After you have been approved, you will be supported by your social worker. At this stage you will be supported as a foster carer. If the court decides the child should remain in your care as adoptive parent/s we will support you to do this.

 As an early permanence carer you will have access to specialist support groups. This is offered during the latter stages of your approval and post-approval.

 These groups offer a great opportunity to meet other people, as well as lead social workers. By participating in these groups you will:

  • Receive professional support and
  • Find the support of your peers invaluable.

 Adoption has permanent implications for you and the child. We offer post-adoption support services offering advice, information and support.

Training and development

In Lancashire we are dedicated to the continuing professional development of our carers. We offer training opportunities which cover every aspect of fostering and adoption.

The following courses and training sessions are mandatory:

  • The Standards for Foster Care, to be completed within the first twelve months of your approval. We offer workshops to help you meet these standards.
  • An induction programme including several training courses within your first year of approval
  • Adoption preparation training
  • A one-day training course

The decision making and matching process

We undertake a process referred to as 'matching'. Once you're approved, we will match you with a suitable child whose needs you are able to meet. You are given as much information as possible about the child and their family circumstances. You will also have the opportunity to talk to the child's social worker before making a decision to proceed.

A matching report is prepared and considered. This ensures that the match is appropriate and agreed by professionals involved with the child. This match is for you both as a foster carer for the child and as their prospective adopter.

We recognise that some of the people who consider 'Best for Baby' placements may have limited experience of caring for very young children. Working in partnership with the Children and Family Wellbeing Service we provide help and advice in caring for babies. This is the same support that would be provided to birth mothers as part of pre-natal care.

Employment requirements

Your employment status will not stop you from becoming a carer. We are looking for families from all sections of society. As long as you are able to meet the general extra living costs that parenting a child entails.

All children need time and energy, but babies and toddlers need consistency of care. We would need one carer to be at home for at least nine months, preferably one year. This allows the carer to look after young children whilst contact is ongoing with the birth family during court proceedings. If you are a couple this may be shared between you, but the needs of the child must remain the main consideration.

Adoption leave and pay entitlement

If you are a working carer you get the same adoption leave and pay entitlements  as birth parents, applicable from when the child comes to live with you. We ask that you to speak to your employer to find out exactly what you are entitled to.

Want to find out more? We'd love to help

 Contact us for an informal chat or confidential advice. Our experienced staff are ready to answer your questions. You can contact the team in the following ways:

Or why not drop in to one of our adoption information evenings to find out more face to face?



Get in touch

If you're thinking about adoption then we'd love to help.

Enquire about adoption

If you'd prefer to speak to someone, then give us a call on
0300 123 6723

What kind of people adopt?

Adoptive parents come from all backgrounds and walks of life. Find out more about what kind of people adopt.

See all our videos