Why is this needed?

Adoption agencies increasingly recognise that maintaining contact with adopters after the adoption order is key to preventing future family stress and increases the chances that families will feel able to seek help sooner if needed.

Government Perspective

By 2020 we expect RAAs to have....regular contact with adopters who live in their area, to understand their needs and provide regular information on the support they can provide. Adoption: A Vision for Change (2016)

Adopter Perspective

Adopters report that information about support services is inadequate. E.g. A recent survey showed that nearly a quarter of adoptive parents did not know what the ASF was and a further 12% didn’t know how to access it. 42% said their LA doesn’t appear to have any mechanisms for providing information and updates on post-adoption support (AdoptionUK 2017)
A recent survey by Adoption Counts indicated that most adopters wanted to receive information from the agency on a monthly basis.

Exemplar Approaches

Agencies use a range of communication channels, most of them digital, including:

  • E-mailed newsletters

  • E-mails advertising specific events

  • Twitter messages

All the agencies surveyed have websites. These, however, contain widely differing amounts of information about adoption support (in contrast to recruitment information). Websites which are more developed include:

The Centre for Adoption Support (Adoption Matters and Caritas Care)
Adoption Counts
PACT

Others have incorporated information for adopters into a ‘passport’ or information guide e.g. PACT & Birmingham Children’s Trust

The adoption passport provided by First4Adoption provides some information which itself is not readily available on many agency sites.

Some agencies have produced resources which parents and professionals can use in engaging with education services:

PAC-UK’s guide for school staff Meeting the needs of adopted and permanently placed children: A guide for school staff covers a range of topics including:

  • what we know about adopted children in education
  • a background to early developmental trauma
  • whole school approaches
  • support for schools and families.

AdoptionUK’s guide Meeting the needs of adopted and permanently placed children - A guide for adoptive parents includes

  • information about Virtual School Heads (VSHs)
  • Designated Teachers (DTs)
  • Priority School Admission
  • Pupil Premium Plus (PP+)
  • dedicated two pages to Intercountry Adoption and Schools.

PAC UK have also produced a Pupil Premium Plus Guide for schools and families on effective use of the Pupil Premium Plus.

Possible future developments

There is a need for a clear digital strategy for adoption services generally and adoption support in particular. Whilst many adopters trawl the internet for information, advice and contact with other adopters, adoption agencies should be collaborating to provide an authoritative source of information, akin to sites such as NHS Home or the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) with answers to common questions and information on where to find advice and services. First4Adoption has fulfilled this role for people seeking to adopt, but advice and information for those who have already adopted is often left to adopters themselves to provide or adopter-led organisations such as AdoptionUK.

Some RAAs (e.g. Adoption Counts and One Adoption West Yorkshire) are developing a resource area of their websites which will be a restricted to adopters. However, other initiatives, particularly, PACT’s Adopter Hub, have received public funds to develop a rich range of interactive resources and information. Investing further in a service such as this, to make it freely available to all adopters nationally, would be a better approach than allowing multiple agencies to develop their own, inevitably limited, digital platforms.

Comment

Information for adopted adults and birth families is much harder to find on agency websites and less detailed than for other areas of adoption. Material produced for these groups, produced by After Adoption, can be found at appendix four.