Wales leads way with groundbreaking model for placing priority children
This National Adoption Week (15-21 October), a new project, Adopting Together led by St David’s Children Society is being launched to help place children who have been waiting the longest for a permanent family.
The first of its kind in the UK, Adopting Together has been developed in response to an urgent need identified by the National Adoption Service (NAS) to develop and deliver a more targeted approach to finding families for children across Wales waiting a long time for their forever home.
NAS continues to evidence a shortfall in the number of adopters needed for children waiting 12 months or more for a home (63 out of 314 at the end of June 2018) – typically those who have additional needs, are part of a sibling group or over four years old.
Adopting Together aims to break down barriers which might prevent people from adopting priority children. The project offers specialised assessment and training, together with a tailored programme of ongoing therapeutic and clinical support for the adopter and child.
This is the first time a model of this kind has been developed in the UK. It will be delivered collectively by Voluntary Adoption Agencies (St. David’s, Barnardo’s, AFA Cymru, After Adoption and Adoption UK). It is further supported by therapeutic partners, NAS through its regions, 22 Local Authorities, and Cardiff University who are supporting and evaluating the project. A Knowledge Transfer Partnership, which has been set up to enable these organisations to embed best practice, has been funded by the Welsh Government through Innovate UK.
What makes Adopting Together different?
The model is unique in that it brings together four key components, some of which are currently deemed as best practice, but none used collectively, under one distinct umbrella model.
- Child-specific recruitment – aimed at the wider public as well as those who have expressed an interest in adoption. This will feature profiles and films of children currently waiting for a permanent family.
- A ‘Team for the Child’ meeting – facilitated by a clinical psychologist to provide thoughtful discussion which brings together all known information about a child, including the daily lived experience of foster carers with psychological insights on how best to strengthen the parent/child bond. This develops an understanding of the support that will be needed through the adoption journey.
- Structured transition sessions and an Adopting Together buddy – A play-based approach (grounded in Theraplay, Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy and narrative work) before, during and after the child’s move from foster carer to adopter to support the transition process. Alongside this, an experienced and trained adopter will act as a peer buddy.
- Follow-up psychological consultation support – Once the child has moved in with their adoptive parents, three meetings will take place with the parents to discuss and normalise issues, whilst identifying strengths to continue to develop parenting strategies for the future.
Singeta Kalhan-Gregory, Adopting Together Project Manager said: “Like every child, these children have a right to a loving forever home, yet the numbers of children waiting for a long time for families in Wales is growing.
“Having worked in adoption for a number of years, and with personal experience, I am so excited this project has been developed. Often adopters need that extra reassurance to help them throughout their adoption journey, and the psychological and tailored therapeutic support that is offered before, during and post the adoption placement will make a huge difference. We’ve already seen the positive impact our project is having on adopters and children.
“During this National Adoption Week and beyond, we are calling for potential adopters to enquire and give these children a chance to experience life-long family life.”
The project is running alongside, not in place of, other adoption activities carried out in St David’s and the wider adoption sector.
Suzanne Griffiths, Director of Operations for the National Adoption Service, said: “Wales has been leading the way in collaborative working in adoption since launching NAS in November 2014. This project originated in early discussions between the local authority adoption regions and our third sector partners. St David’s Children’s Society and Barnardo’s Cymru joined forces to develop the scheme.
“We are really pleased to see the launch of Adopting Together. The early activities have been very positive, for children and for prospective adopters. We look forward to the scheme growing and contributing to a vibrant and modern adoption service across Wales.”
For more information on Adopting Together, visit https://www.adoptionwales.org/en/page/adopting-together