Guidance

Disagreeing with a qualifying determination about fostering, adopting, or protected adoption information

How to apply to the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) for a review of a qualifying determination letter you disagree with.

You may have received a qualifying determination (QD) letter if you are, or have applied to be:

  • a foster parent
  • an adopter
  • an adoptee (or birth relative of an adoptee), and protected information from your (or the adoptee’s) records is being withheld or released against your wishes
  • a foster parent whose terms of approval have been changed

Disagreeing with a decision about becoming a foster parent or adopter

If you’ve received a QD letter about being a foster parent or adopter, or have had your terms of approval changed and you don’t agree, you have 3 options. You can only choose one of these options.

You can:

  • challenge the fostering service provider (FSP) or adoption agency’s proposed decision by writing to them
  • accept the QD – if you do it will take effect 28 calendar days after the date on the letter
  • apply to the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) for a review of the QD – you must do this within 28 calendar days of the date of your letter for fostering, or 40 calendar days for adoption

The cost of having your case reviewed is met by your provider and the Department for Education.

If you’ve received a QD letter about adoption you can still contact other adoption agencies - but you’ll have to start the process again.

How to apply to the IRM

You can apply to the IRM by post or email. You must include:

  • your name, address and contact details
  • the grounds (reasons) why you disagree with the adoption agency or fostering service provider’s determination
  • the date of your QD letter
  • the contact details of your fostering service provider or adoption agency, including their telephone number

The IRM will:

  • review your suitability as a prospective foster parent(s) or adopter(s) to adopt a child
  • review any proposed changes to your terms of approval
  • make a recommendation to your agency on your suitability to foster or adopt a child

The IRM will not:

  • make a final decision about your case, this is done by the Agency Decision Maker in your FSP or adoption agency, after they have received the recommendation and minutes of the IRM panel
  • consider whether fostering or adoption should be the plan for a child
  • consider whether a child should be placed with a particular prospective adopter
  • deal with complaints against the FSP or adoption agency – these should be made through your FSP or adoption agencies’ complaints procedure

Contact us

Independent Review Mechanism

The Contract Manager
Independent Review Mechanism (IRM)
Unit 4
Pavilion Business Park
Royds Hall Road
Wortley

Leeds
LS12 6AJ

Lines are open:
Monday to Wednesday: 9am to 5pm
Thursday and Friday: 9am to 1.30pm

Disagreeing with a decision about protected information from your adoption records

If you’re an adopted adult, or a birth relative of someone adopted, and have requested to receive protected information from your (or the adoptee’s) records, you may have received a ‘qualifying determination’ (QD) letter from your adoption agency. A QD is a proposal made by an adoption agency that it will not proceed with an application, or that it is proposing to disclose or withhold protected information against your wishes.

If you don’t agree with the QD, you can:

  • challenge the adoption agency’s decision by writing to them
  • apply to the IRM for a review of the adoption agency’s QD

You (or the adoptee) must have been adopted on or after 30 December 2005. The cost of having your case reviewed is met by your agency.

How to apply to the IRM

You can apply for the IRM to look at your case by post or email. At this stage you just need to explain why you disagree with the decision. You will be asked to submit more detailed information if needed.

The IRM will:

  • review the proposed decision of the adoption agency
  • make a recommendation to the agency

The IRM will not:

  • make a final decision about your case, this is done by the Adoption Agency, after they have received the recommendation of the IRM Panel

Contact us

Independent Review Mechanism

The Contract Manager
Independent Review Mechanism (IRM)
Unit 4
Pavilion Business Park
Royds Hall Road
Wortley

Leeds
LS12 6AJ

Lines are open:
Monday to Wednesday: 9am to 5pm
Thursday and Friday: 9am to 1.30pm

How the IRM review panel works

When you apply to the IRM for a review of a qualifying determination (QD), a review panel will look at:

  • your reasons for wanting a review and any relevant information you provide
  • all information presented to the original fostering panel or adoption agency, and any other relevant information

If the review panel needs any further information, they’ll ask for it before your review meeting. You’ll be sent a set of panel papers 2 weeks before your panel date.

On the day of the review panel both you and the fostering service provider (FSP) or adoption agency will be asked questions about aspects of the case.

The panel will also receive independent legal advice and, if required, medical advice from its own advisors.

Results and outcomes

The IRM panel will reach a recommendation on the day, and you’ll be sent a copy of the panel’s recommendation reasons and a full set of minutes within 12 working days.

Published 1 April 2009