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During the early stages of a child becoming looked after, the best option for their long-term care may not yet be clear. Children’s services will need to consider more than one possible permanent placement for the child at the same time. This is known as parallel planning.
The aim of parallel planning is to avoid any delays in achieving permanence for the child.
Children’s services will do the following:
- Work with the family to see whether the child can return home to live with the parents.
- At the same time – assess other family members who the child might live with if they cannot return home.
This means that if the child cannot return home, the child can move to a long-term placement more quickly. The assessment process for the new carers will already complete, or at least underway.
Where planning options include a long-term foster placement or adoption, children’s services would need a care order or placement order to go ahead with these. If they are considering adoption, they could place a child with foster carers who are also approved as prospective adopters (see fostering for adoption).
Parallel planning is sometimes also referred to as twin-track planning or contingency planning.