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OxfordshireChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Disruption of Adoptive Placements


Also see Placement for Adoption Procedure and Disruption Meetings ( Foster/Residential Placements) Procedure.


This chapter was updated locally in December 2019.


  1. When a Disruption Meeting will be Held
  2. Purpose of the Disruption Meeting
  3. Chairing and Convening the Disruption Meeting
  4. Agenda of the Disruption Meeting
  5. Minutes and Report of the Disruption Meeting
  6. Reports of Pre-Order Disruptions to the Adoption and Permanence Panel
  7. Adopters Approval
  8. Professionals De-brief

1. When a Disruption Meeting will be Held

Where an adoptive placement breaks down prior to the granting of an Adoption Order, a Disruption Meeting will be held to identify the reasons for the breakdown and to learn lessons from the events surrounding the breakdown.

The Disruption Meeting will be held no sooner than 28 days after and no later than 42 days after the placement breaking down, and will follow a set agenda.

In addition where an adoptive placement disrupts beyond the granting of an Adoption Order, a Disruption Meeting will be held and should take place no later than 3 months after the disruption.

Disruption post-Order is defined as the point that a decision is taken that the child or young person will not be returning to the family home in the foreseeable future, although ongoing contact is anticipated. The agenda for this meeting is likely to be different from other disruption meetings – see below.

2. Purpose of the Disruption Meeting

The purpose of the meeting is to examine various elements of the placement in order to bring some logic in the sequence of events leading to the disruption. 

This will:

  • Help the child by understanding his or her needs better;
  • Improve practice by understanding what might have been done differently;
  • Recognise all the positive work and good experiences for the child amongst all the difficulties;
  • Support every-one and help them carry on and recover;
  • Demonstrate that disruption is rarely the fault of a single factor.

Please note: The Disruption Meeting is not a planning meeting, but is an opportunity to review the past as a preparation for the child's future. The planning for the immediate future should occur via a specific planning meeting/review which should be convened as a matter of urgency to consider future plans.

3. Chairing and Convening the Disruption Meeting

The relevant Team Manager will arrange an independent chair for the meeting – which would usually be an experienced practitioner or manager who is not involved in the line management of the workers in the case, for example, a different Independent Reviewing Officer, Area Service Manager or an external independent chair.

The Disruption Meeting will be convened by the child's social worker, following discussion about the date, time, venue and invitees with his or her Team Manager and the Chair. As well as the Chair, the child's social worker and his/her Team Manager, the meeting will be attended by the prospective adopters/adopters, the link worker and Team Manager  for the adopters, all social workers involved in the placement, including the family finder, the current carers (unless this is not appropriate), previous carers (if appropriate) and a minute taker. It may also be appropriate to invite a therapist, but not teachers or other professionals. It will rarely be appropriate to include the child or members of the birth family, although this would need to be considered for older children. The child's social worker will always ensure that the child's views and feelings are given to the meeting in the most appropriate way.

At least 48 hours before the meeting, the child's social worker will arrange for the Chair to have copies of relevant paperwork, for example:

  • The Child's Permanence Report;
  • The Prospective Adopter's Report;
  • The Adoptive Placement Report and Support Plan;
  • The Panel minutes recommending the approval of adopters and the placement;
  • Minutes of Adoption Reviews held since the placement;
  • For post-Order disruptions – the Adoption Support assessments and plans and any other relevant reports.

4. Agenda of the Disruption Meeting

The meeting should follow a set agenda as follows:

  1. Apologies;
  2. Purpose of meeting - to identify the positives and learning points for the child/children and for general practice;
  3. Circumstances of the child's reception into care;
  4. Pattern of child's life in care;
  5. Decision to seek an adoptive family;
  6. Assessment and preparation of the child;
  7. Assessment and preparation of the adopters and the Panel recommendation of their suitability;
  8. Matching and Panel recommendation;
  9. The introductory period;
  10. The Placement;
  11. Events since the placement ended;
  12. The child's current priority needs.

For a post-Order disruption meeting, the agenda is also likely to include other elements such as ongoing contact.

5. Minutes and Report of the Disruption Meeting

The minutes of the meeting will be prepared within 10 working days of the meeting and copies will be sent to all participants.

The minutes will be written using the same headings as the agenda and should include key information to inform future planning for the child.

The Chair will produce a full report of the Disruption Meeting which will also be distributed to all participants.

The Chair will arrange for a copy of the minutes and the Report of the Meeting to be sent to the Adoption and Permanency Panel Adviser (for pre-Order disruptions only) and to the Corporate Parenting Manager (for post-Order disruptions).

6. Reports of Pre-Order Disruptions to the Adoption and Permanence Panel

Cases where there has been a pre-order disruption must be returned to Adoption and Permanence Panel for discussion.  

The child's social worker should liaise with the Panel Administrator to book a date for the Adoption and Permanence Panel and the relevant documents should be sent to the Panel Administrator 10 working  days before the Panel meeting. The relevant reports are the Adoption Placement Report, the Panel minutes recommending the linking  and the minutes/report of the disruption meeting.

The child's social worker can but will not usually be required to attend the Panel when the disruption is considered.

It is preferable for the Panel to consider the disruption well before a new adoptive placement is identified for the child. This will allow time for Panel members to consider the reports and learn from the information presented so that future plans for the child are well informed.

Learning points from disruptions will be disseminated to relevant staff.

7. Adopters Approval

The relevant adopter agency will undertake a review of the adopters approval, and this could potentially involve returning to panel.

8. Professionals De-brief

Consideration should also be given to the value of a professionals only 'debrief' meeting which could also have an independent chair to facilitate discussion and identify learning.