Valerie Wigfall, Elizabeth Monck, Jill Reynolds; Putting Programme into Practice: The Introduction of Concurrent Planning into Mainstream Adoption and Fostering Services. Br J Soc Work 2006; 36 (1): 41-55. doi: 10.1093/bjsw/bch250
Originating in Seattle, USA, in the early 1980s, concurrent planning aimed to speed the placement of children into permanent families, either birth or substitute, and to reduce overall the time spent in impermanent care. When the first pilot concurrent planning project was introduced in the UK in 1998, independent evaluation was a requirement of government funding. The evaluation was expanded to include two additional projects when the number of initial referrals failed to meet the projected target. This paper looks beyond the successful outcomes of the pilot projects, focusing instead on the local authority context in order to explore some of the difficulties in setting up such an innovative programme, and to shed light on why concurrent planning appeared slow to take off. Based primarily on interviews conducted with social workers at different levels of responsibility, the researchers encountered a steep learning curve for all the professionals. The research findings indicated positive outcomes for the children placed through concurrent planning, but limited understanding of the concept of concurrent planning, uncertainty in the division of responsibilities, and failure to take up preparation and training opportunities contributed to the initial slow progress in the incorporation of the programme.