Child-specific family finding model

We are confident that our child-specific model of matching a child with a family is a highly effective means of placing children with exceptional needs. We believe that the child’s needs must be put firmly at the centre of the family-finding process. Our family finders ensure that, at each stage of the process, their decisions are driven by the needs of the child.

Our model has been used in the successful placement of around 270 children over a period of 30 years. The model can be broken down into the following stages

Information gathering

A local authority contacts Parents for Children to discuss a child needing placement. We give detailed information about our agency, our expertise and the services we offer. We use this conversation to find out as much as possible about the child. If the local authority decides to proceed with us, they send a Child Permanence Report to Parents for Children.


An initial consultation meeting is set up between Parents for Children, the local authority personnel and, if possible, the child’s foster carers, preferably at our offices. We explain in detail how our family-finding process works and we discuss the child’s care plan. A Parents for Children social worker records detailed information about the child such as family details, contact information, disabilities, behaviour patterns, health and educational needs.

Formal agreement

We send a draft agreement to the local authority. If the local authority decides go ahead to work with us, they return the agreement to us, signed by the budget holder.

Documentation and planning

A Parents for Children social worker is appointed as the child’s family finder. The local authority provides Parents for Children with a signed copy of the publicity form, the child’s care plan, a care order, medical documentation and an educational statement. After receipt of documentation, all parties agree on a start date.

Meetings with child, carers and specialists

The family finder arranges a series of meetings with the foster carer and child to get to know the child and prepare the child and their current carer for the process of finding a permanent family. Our family finder also talks to the child’s school teacher/s and other professionals who are involved with the child. Social workers and /or foster carers will be asked to provide photographs of the child at this stage for a personalised profile. If at this stage there are any gaps in information about the child’s history, we may need help from the local authority in finding the missing information, for example the whereabouts of a missing family member.

Personalised profile and advertising

Using the information from the meetings, the family finder writes a profile of the child’s needs. Parents for Children produce a personalised profile sheet, including photographs of the child, which is mailed to suitable families on the Parents for Children register. Advertisements are placed in one or more of the national, regional and local press and the child’s profile is added to the Parents for Children website.


Our family finder talks to everyone who contacts us expressing an interest in the child. They prepare a short-list of the most suitable families who are interviewed in more depth and rated using pre-set criteria. The family finder selects the most appropriate family to be presented to the Parents for Children panel. If agreement is reached at the panel that the family is a suitable match for the child, the usual assessment, training and preparation phase for adoption begins.

Post assessment, training and preparation

After the assessment, training and preparation has been carried out with the family, an inter-agency agreement meeting is set up, which will also cover the financial agreement. The family finder checks that a school place has been found, that any necessary home adaptations are agreed to, and that an adoption support plan is in place. After all the necessary agreements are in place, the match between family and child is presented to the local authority panel.

A child appreciation day can be built in at this stage, if required by the local authority. The introductions between child and family are made and the placement takes place.

Throughout the family-finding process, the Parents for Children family finder will visit the child and the potential adoptive family. Our family finder will also attend all of the child’s reviews during the family-finding process.

Our involvement does not stop with the child’s placement with a family. We continue to visit the family and provide support and additional training up to and after legal adoption.

Our adoption and permanency team will be happy to answer any questions you may have about our family-finding service. Please contact [email protected] or call 020 7520 2881.