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4.15 Life Packs

AMENDMENT

This chapter was amended in December 2011 to reflect the Adoption National Minimum Standards 2011 and Adoption Guidance 2011, which provide in relation to children who are adopted that the Life Story Book and Later Life Letters should be passed to the adopters within 10 working days of the adoption ceremony.


Contents

  1. What's Inside the Life Pack
  2. The Purpose of the Life Pack
  3. The Process and Roles of Different Professionals


1. What's Inside the Life Pack

The Life Pack has many compartments in which the following can be stored: -

  • A Life Story Book (This is produced by CoramBAAF);
  • A School Memories File;
  • Health Records;
  • A Health CD;
  • Growing up - A Journey through my childhood;
  • A Photograph Album;
  • An Autograph and Message book.


2. The Purpose of the Life Pack

The Life Pack will help social workers to focus on doing direct work with children. This will be completed in the following ways: -

  • The ongoing tasks associated with Life Story Work; 

    It is recognised that different social workers use a variety of methods in this area of work and it is envisaged that the Life Story Book will provide an additional tool. There is no reason why the two methods cannot coexist, but they should be seen as complementing each other; 

    For some social workers who have yet to develop their direct work skills, the skills and knowledge of their colleagues including carers will be an invaluable learning tool and the Life Story Book will give them a good framework;
  • The gathering of information about the child's birth family and collecting of photographs;
  • Helping children understand why they are Looked After and unable to live with their birth families;
  • Recognising the importance of recording significant events, for example, changes in foster carers or receiving a school prize;
  • Helping children to record their memories of school friends;
  • Ensuring that children's health and school records are kept safe and that other carers will have access. Furthermore, that the children as they grow older will be able to have an accurate record of the events that happened to them;
  • Helping them to have a narrative that explains their lives, their identity - just like other children who live with their birth parents.

NB In the case of children who are being adopted, the social worker should pass the Life Story Book (and Later Life Letters) to the prospective adopters within 10 working days of the adoption ceremony, i.e. the ceremony to celebrate the making of the Adoption Order.


3. The Process and Roles of Different Professionals

1. Prior to Permanence Plan

From the point of a child first becoming Looked After through to the agreement of the Permanence Plan, the Referral and Assessment Teams, the Family Support Teams and the Disability Team will have the following responsibilities: -

  • To ensure that the Essential Information Form is completed;
  • To obtain a copy of the child's Birth Certificate;
  • To obtain neo-natal records;
  • To complete a Genogram and Chronology;
  • To obtain photographs of the child's parents, siblings, home and placement;
  • To give special attention to retaining toys or clothing the child brought when first Looked After.

2. Triggering the Life Pack

The decision for permanence is made at the latest at the child's second Looked After Review. It will be the recommendation of the Independent Reviewing Officer for the Life Pack to be issued and the Life Story work to begin. The Life Pack will be issued to children aged 4 to 14 years of age. A decision can be made to issue the Life Pack to a child under 4 with the expectation that the carer will keep the Pack in a safe place. The social worker will have the responsibility with the carer, to ensure that the Life Pack is maintained and updated with relevant information.

3. Social work input following permanence decision

  • The social worker has responsibility for collecting the Life Pack from an Executive Officer. It is envisaged that the introduction of the Life Pack to the child and the carer will need careful planning;
  • This process triggers the beginning of Life story work, and the child and carer will both need to understand what type of direct work the social worker intends to do and what the child's and the carer's roles will be. They will also want to know about the other aspects of the Life Pack, what goes into it and where it can be kept;

    It should be noted that it is felt very important that the Life Pack is not held by the carer, but by the child and in a place where the child feels that it is safe. But if the child wishes the carer to keep it safe, then this is acceptable because it is the child's choice;

    The only exception to this rule is that the carer will keep the Health Records;
  • It may be useful for the social worker to have a pre-meeting with the carer prior to introduction of the Life Pack, where they can discuss and decide who will lead on certain sections. This is important; it recognises the importance of working in partnership with carers and the skills that they already have in this area of work;
  • The social worker needs to have regular progress review meetings with the foster carer and the foster carer's Link Worker to ensure that the process is running smoothly;
  • The Independent Reviewing Officer will ensure that the progress of the Life Pack and Life Story Work is considered at the child's Looked After Reviews.

NB In the case of children who are being adopted, the social worker should pass the Life Story Book (and Later Life Letters) to the prospective adopters within 10 working days of the adoption ceremony, i.e. the ceremony to celebrate the making of the Adoption Order.

4. Contributions from the carer

  • The carer may undertake some direct work input as agreed by the social worker;
  • The carer should support the key messages being shared in Life Story process;
  • The carer should take and collect photographs, school memories etc;
  • The carer should record relevant information given by the family during contact.

End