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Achieving permanence is the long-term aim for every looked after child. The aim of planning for permanence is to ensure every child has a secure, stable and loving family to support them through childhood and beyond and to give them a sense of security.

From the day a child first becomes looked after, achieving permanence should be the aim of children’s services. A key function of each child’s care plan is to ensure a plan for permanence is in place by the time of the second review meeting.

Permanence for a child means living in a situation where they can form strong and healthy emotional attachments with carers. Those carers should be in a position to give them a sense of security, continuity, commitment and identity. It also means legal permanence.

There are a range of options for achieving permanence for children, and all can deliver good outcomes. What matters is finding the right option for each child. What is right for one child may not be right for another.

Permanence options are:

  • Returning to the family home. When a child returns home, the parents and family should where necessary receive support from children’s services and other agencies to resolve any family problems. Children’s services should support them to make sure the reasons the child became looked after in the first place are no longer a risk to the child. Most children who become looked after return home to live with their parents.
  • Kinship care. Living with relatives or friends on a long-term basis might be under a long-term foster care arrangement. It might also be under a special guardianship order or child arrangements order.
  • Long-term foster care with unrelated foster carers.
  • Living in residential care in a children’s home – not every child who cannot live with their family wants to live in an alternative family arrangement.
  • Adoption.

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