Link Maker features - Adoption

Adoption

Link Maker increases placement choice for children awaiting adoption, creating a UK-wide pool of available adopters, and improving the use of data and collaboration between local authorities and independent adoption agencies. It is used by Scotland's Adoption Register and by each regional adoption service in Wales, along with almost every local authority and independent agency in England. Over 1,200 children have been matched since the platform was launched in 2014.

Local authorities family-find for children by approaching suitable adopters, or by listing the child's profile if appropriate. Link Maker's support team works proactively to ensure no child 'falls through the cracks'. Progress is closely monitored; in cases where it appears more could be done for a child, additional advice and support is offered to their social workers.
Prospective adopters use Link Maker directly to make their profiles available, and to work with their agencies in identifying possible matches. Anyone who has adopted domestically in the UK can also use Link Maker's community features, to find other local families for chat, support and playdates, and to share advice with practitioners and other families on the Q&A forum.
  • Form Regional Adoption Agencies. Comprehensive collaboration features for regional services and consortia are available.
  • Access the widest range of families. The detail contained in profiles guides family-finders to families who may best meet a child's needs, whether in-house, from a consortium or provider group, or nationally.
  • Show interest in families. Available families can be filtered and ordered according to a range of geographical and other criteria, and approaches can be made to invite discussions.
  • Invite interest from families. Child profiles can be issued to in-house families, or to external families according to geography, consortia and other criteria.
  • Schedule profile visibility. According to the policy in each case, the visibility of child profiles can be automatically increased from, for example, in-house, to a small geographical area, to a larger area, at appropriate intervals. The sequence can be set to stop automatically when sufficient interest has been shown.
  • Involve & support families. Social workers can share details with their families, and empower them to help identify suitable matches where appropriate. Families can be supported online by appropriate staff during family-finding and post-placement.
  • Meet data protection obligations. All documents and messages are shared securely with local authorities and families, with information encrypted using the password of the intended recipient, and made available to them for only as long as it is needed. All data is managed by an ISO 27001 accredited organisaton and is hosted in the UK.
  • Keep information up-to-date. All users can update their profiles and cases directly, in real time. Link Maker monitors all activity and intervenes directly with users by email and telephone whenever an update or a user response may be overdue.
  • Manage cases flexibly. All user accounts are specific to individuals, so that cases can be shared between managers and social workers according to prevailing practice and policy in the organisation.
  • Child-level reports. Instant reports can be run containing evidence of available families, and of family-finding activity conducted on behalf of a child or sibling group.
  • Effective oversight. A range of user-level permissions can be applied, granting the ability to view activity against all cases and to run detailed activity reports.
  • Plan ahead. Live data is always available, and can be aggregated regionally and nationally. Powerful reports and dashboards enable supply and demand to be monitored effectively, in real time.
  • Online presence. Manage a customised, branded portal for staff and families from your organisation. This can bring together both family-finding and support, and can provide news and information, advertise and facilitate events, hold forums for practice discussion and peer support, and make family-finding profiles available to appropriate users.
  • Readily available support. Unlimited online and telephone support for all users from 9-5pm, Monday-Friday
  • Ongoing development. Nothing in children's social care stands still, and Link Maker's continuous development is shaped by feedback and suggestions from users.
Link Maker features - Placement commissioning

Placement commissioning

Link Maker is used by almost every local authority in the UK to increase placement choice for children. We work with authorities, providers and national leads, across all care settings, to ensure that collaboration and data use is effectively supported. Our commissioning platform makes needs-led placements easier to find, and gives the opportunity for all authorities to use a common, national platform for framework and consortium arrangements, reducing duplication and wasted time, and improving data regionally and nationally.

  • Evaluate vacancies quickly. Vacancies can be ordered according to how they may best match a child's specific needs, and filtered by requirements such as geography and required start dates.
  • See the widest range of vacancies. All vacancies are instantly visible, whether in-house, on a framework, or nationally. Whatever the criteria or level of need, there is no delay in accessing all options.
  • Manage provider groups. Create custom groups of providers (including other local authorities) according to contract frameworks, or those providing specific services. Groups can then be used to filter available vacancies, or to define a range of providers to which a commissioning profile should be issued.
  • Issue placement requests. Issue placement requests to any defined provider group or groups, and within tightly defined geographical criteria, instantly and securely. Deploy current documents and contact details more efficiently, or use the universal commissioning profile.
  • Reach all current providers. Placement requests can be issued to all providers with whom an authority works. Those not already using Link Maker would receive invitations by email to register for free in order to securely access placement requests that have been issued to them.
  • Access off-contract placements. Where a vacancy from a different contract framework is of interest, details of the provider, including membership of other frameworks, are available so that options can be explored.
  • Universal commissioning profile. Clear and complete information is captured including the purpose of the placement, the outcomes sought, the child's views, assessed risks, and when the placement is needed. The new form has been developed for Link Maker by Marie Tucker at CICADA Services, based on her research for ICHA into the use of placement request forms. The form will be kept under review to ensure it continues to meet the needs of the sector. An existing placement request form can be uploaded instead if preferred.
  • Define response timescales. Request that placement offers are submitted by a specific date to allow consideration of options, negotiation of contracts and planning of the placement.
  • Manage cases and tasks flexibly. All user accounts are specific to individuals, so that cases and tasks can be shared between managers, commissioners, placement officers and social workers according to prevailing practice and policy in the organisation.
  • Meet data protection obligations. Link Maker is ISO 27001 accredited and all data is hosted in the UK.
  • Keep information up-to-date. All users can update their profiles and cases directly, in real time. Link Maker monitors all activity and intervenes directly with users by email and telephone whenever an update or a user response may be overdue.
  • Effective oversight. A range of user-level permissions can be applied, granting the ability to view activity against all cases and to run detailed activity reports.
  • Readily available support. Unlimited email and telephone support for all users from 9-5pm, Monday-Friday
  • Ongoing development. Nothing in children's social care stands still, and Link Maker's continuous development is shaped by feedback and suggestions from users.
Additional functionality is available with a licence, including live online support, secure document sharing, performance & sufficiency dashboards, enhanced foster carer involvement, and the ability to create automatic schedules for referrals, e.g. by tiers or lots. To simplify procurement, licences are available from the government Digital Marketplace framework.
Link Maker features - Placement providers

Placement providers

While Link Maker is used by nearly every local authority in the UK for adoptive matching, over one-third of authorities across England are preparing to pilot a new platform for commissioning fostering and residential placements. The platform is funded by authorities, and free to placement providers. It offers the potential for greater efficiency, and a greater focus on individual needs, in the way placements are commissioned. Read more in our FAQ for providers.

Fostering providers can use Link Maker to identify suitable placements by listing profiles for available carers. Placements can be identified by your agency by searching potential profiles and expressing interest or placement requests may be issued to you specifically by authorities within your framework.
Residential care providers can use Link Maker to identify suitable placements by listing profiles for available residential care placements. Placements can be identified by your agency by searching potential profiles and expressing interest or placement requests may be issued to you specifically by authorities within your framework.
To ensure your vacancies are available when needed we recommend registering now and adding your details. Placements can be identified in a number of ways:
  • Any authority may contact you to explore a vacancy you have listed
  • You may contact any authority that has listed a placement request if you feel you can help
  • Authorities within your framework(s) may issue placement requests to you specifically
  • New users are helped with clear menus, on-screen guidance and video tutorials. For further help please contact our support team who will be happy to assist.

Licensed organisations

150 agencies provide full features for their families & staff. View all.

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