New scheme to put infants' needs first is one of first in country

From Louise Raymond

March 04, 2009 / Devon County Council

A SCHEME being introduced by Devon County Council to provide significant long-term security to vulnerable infants is one of the first to be introduced in the UK.

Concurrency care is a scheme being introduced by the council for some of the most vulnerable young children in its care, following two successful pilots.

Through concurrency care, newborn babies and toddlers up to two-years-old will be placed with foster carers, who are also approved adoptive parents, who will help them return to their birth family. If they are unable to return home they will be adopted by the carers they have known from a very early age, and who are familiar with their birth family and background.

The aim of the scheme is to ensure the child will be spared the distress of moves and unnecessary delays and will have consistency of care while its birth family is assessed, and a recommendation made to court about their suitability to care for the child. Once the court has made a decision about the child's future, they will either return to their birth family or be adopted by the concurrent carer.

People are now being sought who might be suitable to become concurrency carers, and who are willing to undergo the process of assessments and training needed.

Concurrency carers are recruited and approved as both foster carers and adoptive parents. They are trained and supported by the Council to foster children while the birth parents are being assessed, and they enable the child to have regular contact with their birth families in a safe environment.

Councillor John Smith, Devon County Council's Executive Member for Children and Young People's Services, said: "It will take a very special kind of family to provide the care and support needed for these highly vulnerable infants, and who are willing to put the child's needs first at all times, whether that means helping the child bond with - and return to - its birth parents or becoming their adoptive family.

"The initial process can be highly emotional, and we need people who can provide these children with the enduring love, support and stability they will need above all else.

"I would encourage anyone interested in finding out more about this scheme to contact our Concurrency Care Team."

Brenda Thomas, Devon County Council's Adoption Practice Manager, said: "Concurrency carers have the immense satisfaction of providing stability and security for a baby or toddler at a crucial stage of development - with the possibility that, if appropriate, the infant may become their legally adopted child.

"At the same time, they have the opportunity to get to know the birth parents, and if the parents made the necessary changes resulting in the return of the child, the satisfaction of having played a part in making this possible."

Concurrency carers are specially selected, assessed and prepared for this challenging role. They go through the usual procedure for prospective adopters and, after being approved by the Adoption Panel, go through a concurrency selection process, involving further training and assessment as foster carers.

The Council has already trialled the scheme with one concurrency care family, who were matched with an 11-week old baby. They underwent the process of contact with the birth parents, and have since become the child's legally adoptive family.

The family said: "From the beginning of our journey to adoption, the concurrency scheme attracted us because the emotional and developmental wellbeing of the child was at the centre of it.

"The first contact was quite tough emotionally but the way it was handled by social services made it easier than expected. Contact is demanding, but forms a core part of the scheme to enable the birth parents to be assessed in their interactions with their child.

"After six months, our child was placed with us for adoption. She will always know she is adopted but has suffered none of the emotional hurt and trauma which can so often be part of an older adopted child's experience.

"We have a wonderful daughter we have loved from the day she came to us and who is as much one of our family as our birth children. We feel privileged to have been on the concurrency scheme."

If approved by the panel they are registered as concurrency carers which means they are not available for other types of fostering or adoption.

Anyone who would like more information can contact Brenda Thomas on 01392 384979, e-mail, or Clare Warner on 01392 384961, e-mail



How many fostering/PAP's would be willing to care for a young infant, with family reunification in-mind?

Far too often I have heard/read an AP admit the only reason why foster care became an option for them (in the first place) is because it put them higher on the adopting list.  For some reason I can't help but think the phrase "child's best interest" seems to be clouded by adult desire.

I'm not so sure both adoption and family reunification plans can co-exist, but I could be very wrong.  

Out of curiosity, does any one consider legal guardianship as a workable option any more, or has adoption made that a long lost concept?


first 11 weeks...

What happened to that baby the first 11 weeks of her life?  Who did she bond to; or did she?  Does anyone else see that there is still the chance for problems here?

 I know of NO foster parents who went into fostering for the good-of-the-child.  It was all about adoption. 

I really believe there are more problems when a child is placed outside of the original family instead of familial legal guardianship.

What did I ever do to deserve this... Teddy

First things first

I don't always fully agree that first-families should be first-choices when it comes to child placement decisions.  Within our abuse cases, we have far too many cases where children were abused by extended family members or their live-in partners/spouses. 

This tells me in depth investigations, frequent checks and follow-ups are not being made by those being paid to keep abused children safe and protected from abusive/negligent parenting

I cannot help but think the adoption-option has only made it easier for CPS to forget the long-term well-being of a child placed within a new ("pre-screened") family. 


As one who was adopted within his biological family I can subscribe to the idea, it's not always best to look in the extended family for placement. Every situation is unique and should be dealt with on a case by case basis. There are far too many ideologies involved in child placement. Many see adoption as the prefered solution (preferably in the extended family, if not outside of it), others only want to see family preservations, which also doesn't always work, yet others want to only see legal guardianship, which probably has its downsides and pitfalls too. Some children are not placed in institutions because of ideology, while they require around the clock supervision. There simply is not one best way to deal with children. Child placement should be about finding the best solution for a given child in a given situation. What option to choose should be based on the child's best interest, not the social workers ideals.


I should have added:  FIRST look at the extended family.  I still feel it's best because of the culture that is established within families that extends to the extended family.  Even the smells of familiar people, cooking, environment could be of more importance to a child.  But what do I know?

What did I ever do to deserve this... Teddy

Family pathology

I think there are two core adopted groups:

  • the abused, neglected, abandoned  child
  • the bastard child born out of wedlock, unwanted by extended family members.

The child who has been severely abused by a parent could very well belong to a family with a very long legacy of child/sexual abuse within the family-tree.  Such families/situations concern me and in my opinion, require a lot of in-depth investigation and help.

The child relinquished by a mother who is told she's not good enough to keep her baby is a victim of personal opinion.  These parents require encouragement and support of a completely different sort and breed.

I just don't know if that many foster/PAP's know the truthful circumstances surrounding a child's placement.

Complete honesty is not exactly a policy kept within or respected by the adoption industry.


I agree that there are two core groups, although neglect is often not intentional but situational. Many poor single parents cannot make ends meet without neglecting their children. They can't afford day care and can't stay at home supervising children because they have to work to be able to feed those very children. In reality many children are taken from these type of families and put in foster care. These are not the cases we read about in the news, because the children were not grossly mistreated, but they are much more common than the gruesome abuse that fllls the headlines.

These sort of situations shouldn't even call for outplacement, but for support. In reality those children are often removed and placed with family members, the very people who often could have helped out in the first place. It's a sick sick world we live in.


Abused adoptees in relative adoptions
Abuse within relative foster care

I do think that relative placements should be considered first, but the screening should be the same as for all foster/adoptive families.


I would like to think, when it comes to child protective services, screening for safety would be a priority.  Unfortunately with so many private agencies working within the foster/adoption industry, child safety doesn't quite rate as high as child placement targets/quotas and job security and salary. 

Will there ever come a day where all state (public and private) agencies will have to follow the same pre-screening policies?


I wish the day would come.
clearly screening is very poor, or we wouldn't have so many abuse cases to record.

The Curtis' were given custody of Alex even though their homestudy  and background checks were not complete and would have revealed past violence.

This one blows my mind because I went through my first homestudy in 2000 - you don't place children in a home before the checks are complete.

Pound Pup Legacy