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8.1 Policy and Procedure for the constitution and functioning of the Isle of Man DHSC Adoption Panel


The IoM DHSC is an accredited adoption agency under the legislation of the IoM Adoption Act 1984.

The Family Placement Service (FPS) undertakes the tasks in relation to the agency.

The arrangements for the Adoption Panel are governed by the following legislation and standards:

IoM Adoption Act 1984

IoM Adoption Societies Regulations 1985

IoM Adoption (Amendment) Act 2001

IoM the Adoption Rules 2003

Regulation of Care Act 2013 – which sets down standards which must be complied with by law.

The Minimum Standards for Adoption (IoM) 2013

Detailed excerpts from the key legislation documents are included in the Appendices.





In August 2021, this chapter was added to the manual.


  1. Introduction
  2. Purpose and Functioning of the Adoption Panel
  3. Membership of the Panel and Central List
  4. Panel Chair
  5. Vice Chair
  6. Agency Advisor to the Panel
  7. Observers and Supporters
  8. Conduct of Panel Meetings
  9. Panel Minutes and Administration
  10. Agency Decision Maker
  11. Appeal
  12. Reports for Panel

    Appendix 1: Process Flowchart

    Appendix 2: Excerpts from Minimum Standards for Adoption (IoM) 2013

    Appendix 3: Excerpts from IoM Adoption Societies Regulations 1985

    Appendix 4: Confidentiality agreement for Panel Members

1. Introduction

The Isle of Man, Department for Health and Social Care DHSC Family Placement Service (FPS), provides an Adoption Panel which makes recommendations about the approval of potential adoptive carers seeking to adopt children; recommendations about the “best Interest” decisions in respect of children for whom Adoption is being considered, and; recommendations about the match between an adoptive carer(s) and a child.

The purpose of this policy and procedure is to set out the structure, functioning and purpose of the Adoption Panel.

2. Purpose and Functioning of the Adoption Panel

The Adoption Panel has an overriding responsibility to promote good practice, consistency of approach and fairness in all aspects of the adoption service, in accordance with its procedures and values.

The Panel’s responsibilities are to make recommendations on:

  • The suitability of prospective adopters to adopt a child;
    • Recommendation to be made within 6 months of receipt of the prospective adopter’s formal application to be assessed.
  • Whether it is in the “best interests” for a child to be adopted;
    • Recommendation to be made within 2 months of the statutory review where adoption was identified in the permanence plan.
  • Whether a child should be placed for adoption with particular prospective adopters (matching);
    • Recommendation to be made within 6 months of the Adoption Agency’s decisions maker deciding that it is in the child’s best interests to be placed for adoption.
  • To be cited on resignations from prospective adopters within 28 days of the resignation letter being received or at the next available panel.

The recommendations must be unconditional and cannot be ‘in principle’.

The panel can advise where prospective adoptive parents are recommended as suitable to adopt, the number of children the adoptive parents may be suitable to adopt, as well as their age range, gender, likely needs and background.

Where it is recommended that a child should be placed with particular prospective adopters the panel may consider offering advice regarding the proposed adoption support and future contact arrangements.

The Agency Decision Maker will consider the recommendations made by the panel when reaching a decision.

The Panel will provide quality assurance feedback to the Adoption Agency every 6 months on the quality of reports being presented to the Panel and the consistency of approach.

3. Membership of the Panel and Central List

Panel Membership

There is no legally fixed panel membership or maximum tenure of office. The Family Placement Service (FPS) will review this on a three yearly basis. However, membership will be reviewed on an annual basis, by the Panel Chair and the Adoption Practice Lead. The maximum number of members on a panel is 10.

The constitution of the panel should comply with the IoM Adoption Regulations 1985 (amended 2013.)

Central List

Membership of each panel will be drawn from a Central List maintained by the Adoption Specialist Lead in the family placement service.

The Central List will always have a minimum of 10 members listed, representing diverse areas of experience and expertise relevant to adoption.

In addition to the chair, and panel advisor. The Central List may include, but is not prescriptive to;

  • An identified Vice Chair;
  • An Adoption / Family Placement Service Social Worker with at least 3 years post-qualifying experience and experience of adoption work;
  • A Medical Advisor(s).[in person or by specific comment on each case;
  • Legal advisor- in person or by specific comment in each case;
  • A Representative of children’s’ social work – either a manager or 3+ yr. experience;
  • Other specialist representatives from other agencies – education, health services, therapeutic services or mental health. At least one person who has experience of adoption [is or has been an adopter or adopted.]

The panel should operate with a quorum of five, and should always include the chair/vice, a social worker and one independent member [lay or other agency].

Panel members will be selected on to the Central List by the Specialist Adoption Lead on the basis of suitability which will be determined by their experience, background, profession and ability to absorb and understand complex issues, express cogent views succinctly, respectfully and maintain confidentiality.

All panel members on the Central List will be required to:

  • Sign a confidentiality agreement. and a written agreement covering all aspects of the role;
  • Have a DBS check;
  • Provide two references of good character;
  • Undertake training/induction prior to attendance;
  • Attend one panel development day per year.

Each new Panel member will have an opportunity to observe a Panel meeting before they sit on an adoption panel.

The Panel Chair will conduct an annual appraisal for each panel member, to determine their ongoing suitability.

Panel members who have not regularly attended a minimum two panels in a year will be asked to step down.


Resignations from the Central List require one month’s notice in writing to the Panel Chair and the Adoption Lead Specialist.

Withdrawal of notice is conducted in the same way but the Chair and specialist lead reserve the right not to accept the notice of withdrawal of notice and to allow the original letter of resignation to stand.

Termination of Appointment

Any decision for Termination of Appointment will be made by the Panel Chair in conjunction with the Specialist Adoption lead.

Termination of Appointment will be on the grounds of unsuitability and the panel member will receive one month’s notice from the Panel Chair in writing with the reasons of unsuitability clearly set out. The panel chair should always work in conjunction with the Adoption Lead Specialist.

Termination will rarely be without first having investigated the concerns; it may be about the behaviour of a person on the Central List either inside or outside the meetings where the difficulties have not been resolved by discussion and correspondence with the Chair and Adoption Lead Specialist.


All written and verbal information given to Panel members is strictly confidential. Panel members are required to keep Panel information secure and return all documentation after the Panel meeting. No information should be sent via personal email.

Panel members must not copy any documents in relation to a case or discuss outside of the Panel meeting.

4. Panel Chair

The Panel Chair must be independent of the Adoption Agency, and is appointed by the Department the process is led by the Adoption Lead Specialist.

The Panel Chair’s role is to ensure that:

  • The meeting is quorate and facilitate all members to participate fully in the meetings (unless an interest has been declared);
  • Ensure sensitive regard is paid to applicants and others attending the Panel (while keeping the child’s welfare paramount);
  • Consensus is achieved wherever possible;
  • Panel has clear reasons for its recommendations and are compliant with law, policy and procedure;
  • The Chair should ensure that the reasons for recommendations are clearly documented in the panel minutes;
  • The Chair to provide verbal feedback to prospective adopters, following the recommendation and ensure that the reasons are recorded and shared with the prospective adopters.

In the event of a disagreement between Panel members, the Panel Chair will consider whether further information is required or whether the Panel should make a recommendation on the basis of the majority view. In this event, any dissenting view will be fully recorded in the minutes.

The role of the Chair will be reviewed annually by the Adoption Specialist Lead and the contract reviewed at least every three years.

5. Vice Chair

Vice-Chairs should possess the same qualities and ability to manage complex meetings as those required of the Panel Chair.

Vice-Chairs should be given opportunities to chair panel meetings, at least once on an annual basis, with the Panel Chair in attendance to support. This process will allow them to acquire the skills and experience necessary to chair panels in the absence of the Panel Chair and thus to enable panels to sit as required.

6. Agency Advisor to the Panel

The panel will always have a Panel Advisor available to it.

The Adoption Lead Specialist will act as the Panel Advisor.

The Panel Advisor’s role is to, assist with appointment and maintenance of the Central List, and have responsibility for the induction and training of Panel members. The Panel advisor will give advice to the Panel about policy, procedure, legislation and other pertinent matters, and will on request provide advice to the Agency Decision Maker.

The Panel Advisor to oversee that the Chair has cited the reasons for the recommendations in the panel minutes and ADM decision sheet and to seek amendments if these are not clearly recorded.

The Panel Advisor is not a voting member of the Panel and may not participate in making recommendations.

The Panel advisor will maintain an overview of the timeliness of reports and decisions, and the quality of all reports to panel, and can withdraw a report which is considered inadequate.

A suitably qualified and experienced Deputy Advisor will be identified for periods of absence or conflict.

7. Observers and Supporters

The Panel Chair may, at their discretion, permit a relevant person (social work student, prospective panel member, social worker or manager) to observe all or part of an adoption panel. Wherever possible the views of the subject of the panel- applicant, birth parent, child young person should be sought where applicable.

If at any time during the conduct of the panel, the Panel Chair considers that the presence of an observer would be detrimental to the proceedings they will be asked to leave.

There shall be no more than one observer permitted to attend each panel.

When a prospective adopter is invited to attend the panel they may bring a supporter. The Children & Families service has guidance regarding supporter attendance at meetings which will be shared with the attendee and a confidentiality agreement will be required to be signed. Please see Appendix 3: Excerpts from IoM Adoption Societies Regulations 1985

See The Role of Supporter - Information for Parents/Carers

8. Conduct of Panel Meetings


For a panel to be quorate it must have a minimum of 5 members and must include the Panel Chair or Vice Chair a suitably qualified social worker and at least one other independent person or agency.

Declaring an Interest

Every panel meeting will open by requiring any declaration of conflicts of interest.

There can be situations where a panel member knows personally or professionally subjects of the panel. The panel member MUST declare an interest in such situations.

Any such conflicts of interest should be declared by panel members in advance where possible, so that arrangements to ensure Quaoracy can be made.

A potential conflict arises if an interest adversely affects a panel member’s ability to act without prejudice or preference in a matter. The Panel Chair will determine if a declared interest will prejudice the panel member’s consideration of the case. If so, the panel member will not participate in that case discussion and will leave the Panel for that part of the meeting.

General Conduct

All Panel members should conduct matters fairly and without prejudice or discrimination in all cases.

All Panel members should have read the papers carefully prior to the meeting and be prepared for the discussions.

The Panel Advisor will review the general conduct of Panel members regularly.

Panel Process & Recommendations

Panel Meetings will be scheduled in advance for at least once each month.

The Panel administrator will circulate the list in advance to members on the central list so that confirmed attendance can be known and managed well in advance for the year.

Additional meetings can be arranged in exceptional circumstances related to specific situations or volume of work. These must be agreed as required by the Specialist Adoption lead.

The agenda and papers will be circulated 7 days before the panel meeting

Declaration of interests will occur at the start of each Panel and decisions recorded.

In the event of disagreement the chair will consider if further information is required, or if Panel can go ahead and make a recommendation on the basis of majority view. Any dissenting view will be fully recorded in the minutes.

Social workers presenting reports – CPR, PAR, Matching, and any supporting documentation should be submitted to the Panel administrator 9 days before the meeting.

At the end of the meeting the Panel administrator will collect all papers from members. Those not attending who received information should return the papers to the Administrator.

Panel members must consider cases presented make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker;

  • They must consider and take into account the reports sent to them;
  • They may request the agency to obtain any further relevant information that they consider necessary;
  • They must always have legal advice available on key matters being considered;
  • They must always have the view of the Medical Advisor(s) where required.

Panels can only make recommendations when they are quorate.

Panels can make;

  • A positive recommendation; or
  • A negative recommendation; or
  • Defer making a recommendation until they have further specific information to enable them to do so.

The Panel Chair should ensure that each panel member has an opportunity to ask questions or make comments on every issue.

Each panel member should be asked whether he or she supports a proposed recommendation.

Where panel members have serious reservations, the Panel Chair must ensure that these are recorded in the minutes and are attached to the panel’s recommendations.

If the panel cannot reach a consensus on its recommendation, after the Panel Chair and other panel members have voted, the Panel Chair has the casting vote.

9. Panel Minutes and Administration

The Panel will have a designated Administrator who will produce an annual schedule of meetings and maintain a Panel booking system.

The Administrator will prepare agendas and will hold the Central List [but not be responsible for maintaining it] along with the confidentiality agreements and DBS compliance.

The Administrator will seek to ensure that reports are provided to Panel members at least seven days prior to the panel meeting.

Any reports not received by the Administrator at least 9 days before the Panel meeting will not be submitted for review at the meeting.

The Administrator will liaise with the Panel Chair and Adoption lead Specialist about requests in relation to observers and to ensure that the Panel is quorate.

The Adoption Panel must make a written record of its proceedings, its recommendations and the reasons for its recommendations. The Panel Chair is responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the Panel’s recommendations, reasons and minutes.

Each recommendation should be specific, accurate and reflective of what was discussed.

The Panel minutes will include the names of Panel members attending the meeting and the names and roles of any other people present at the meeting.

The minutes will accurately reflect the discussion and cover the key issues rather than be a verbatim record of the meeting.

Where Panel members have serious reservations, the Panel Chair must ensure these are recorded in the minutes and are attached to the Panel’s recommendation.

If the Panel Chair uses a casting vote, the reasons for this should be clearly set-out.

Panel meeting minutes will be kept on relevant files i.e. minutes of the Panel’s consideration of a match for a child should be placed on the child’s records, minutes of approval will be kept on the adopter’s file.

Panel minutes will be typed up by the Administrator within 2 working days of the panel meeting and shared with the Panel Chair.

The Panel Chair will ratify the minutes within 5 working days of their receipt from the Administrator and will send the agreed minutes and recommendations to the Agency Decision Maker.

10. Agency Decision Maker

The Agency Decision Maker will be separate from the panel arrangements and will represent the Adoption Agency, and be accountable for all decisions made.

No member of the Adoption Panel shall take part in any decision made by the Adoption Agency.

The Agency Decision Maker should be a senior person within the Adoption Agency (DHSC, Children and Families service) who has knowledge and experience of permanency planning for children, and should be an experienced, qualified social worker.

The Agency Decision Maker can make;

  • A positive decision; or
  • A negative decision; or
  • Defer making a decision until they have further specific information to enable them to do so.

It is good practice for the Agency Decision Maker:

  • To list the material taken into account in reaching the decision;
  • To identify key arguments;
  • To state whether they agree with the process and approach of the relevant Panel(s) and are satisfied as to its fairness and that the Panel(s) has/have properly addressed the arguments;
  • To consider whether any additional information now available to them that was not before the Panel has an impact on its reasons or recommendation;
  • To identify the reasons given for the relevant recommendation that they do or do not wish to adopt; to state (a) the adopted reasons by cross-reference or otherwise and (b) any further reasons for their decision;
  • To ensure due consideration has been given to the stability and permanency of relationships in respect of any applicant;
  • A child’s particular needs and likely impact of being adopted.

The Agency Decision Maker shall reach a decision on the recommendations of the Adoption Panel within 14 working days of the Panel meeting.

The Agency Decision Maker’s decision does not have to agree with the recommendations made by the Panel but should articulate the reasons for a different decision.

The Agency Decision Maker’s decision will be notified to those subject to the decision – prospective adopters, birth parents, child or young person within 2 working days of the decision being made, with formal notification in writing being made within 5 working days of the decision.

11. Appeal

Under current legislation there is no right to appeal against the decision of the Agency Decision Maker.

If the prospective adopter or other individual believes that correct procedural guidelines and regulations have not been followed in the panel or decision making process then they should follow the Department’s policy for complaint resolution.

12. Reports for Panel

Reports to the Adoption Panel, in relation to approval, best interests and other matters must always be prepared by qualified social workers and signed and authorised by a manager.

Where the person preparing the report is an independent social worker, they must always be suitably qualified and experienced and be supervised by the Adoption Lead Specialist.

The reports to be presented to the Adoption Panel should include:

  • Prospective Adopters Report (PAR);
  • Child Permanence Report (CPR) (when included with Health Report and Emotional Wellbeing Form also constitute the Best Interests Report);
  • Matching Report.


Appendix 1: Process Flowchart

Appendix 2: Excerpts from Minimum Standards for Adoption (IoM) 2013

Appendix 3: Excerpts from IoM Adoption Societies Regulations 1985

Appendix 4: Confidentiality agreement for Panel Members

Original Publication Date March 2021
Last Review Date New policy
Next Review Date March 2022