Adoption activity days
Adoption activity days are events where prospective adopters have the opportunity to meet a range of children who need adoptive placements. A number of these events were run in the past in the UK in the 1970’s and early 80’s.
The aims of the project
The aims of the project
This was initially set up as a pilot project externally funded and managed by BAAF, with Bridget Betts as Project Manager. The pilot project ran for two years from January 2011 to March 2013.
The original aim was to facilitate four activity days in partnership with agencies in the East Midlands Consortium over the two years of the project. A fifth activity day in early March 2013 will conclude the pilot.
There has also been close interest at ministerial level. The government’s adoption advisor, Martin Narey, attended the last event in October. In an interview in the February 2013 edition of Professional Social work Narey is quoted as saying:
‘What is significant in the 4 pilots is that what has happened in the US has happened here too. Some significant matches and some unexpected matches have been made. There is something about chemistry that can provide the foundation for a successful match and I hope we’ll see much more initiative being given to adopters, working in partnership with social workers.’
The Department for Education announced on 24 December 2012 that adoption activity days would be part of the government’s adoption reform agenda:
encouraging Adoption Activity Days, as pioneered by the British Association of Adoption and Fostering, where prospective parents can meet children waiting for adoption and have the chance to make a real connection with a child. Pilot Activity Days have proved very successful, finding families for almost one in five children and evidence suggests they could be particularly successful in matching harder to place children
Due to the success of the pilot this project will now run as a permanent service to agencies and consortia. A number of consortia have already signed up or expressed a strong interest in BAAF’s Consultancy Service to facilitate these events in their own areas.
Bridget Betts, who runs the Adoption Activity Days scheme has been presented with the Silver Award for Overall Leader of Innovative Practice at the Social Worker of the Year Awards 2012!
Louise Hocking, Director of Child Placement at BAAF said: “BAAF is delighted that Bridget and her innovative work in Adoption Activity Days has been recognised in this way. It is a well-deserved acknowledgement of Bridget's drive, skill and inspirational dedication. Bridget's work, in partnership with the East Midlands Adoption Consortium, has ensured this project has quickly offered positive outcomes for children.”
Pilot Project Adoption Activity Days: January 2011 to March 2013
Our inspiration - experience from the USA
We looked to the USA for current experience and practice in this area. Statistics from the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange in Boston which has facilitated adoption parties for 30 years demonstrate that adoption parties are twice as effective as any other method of family finding for children. 11- 14% of children profiled in the media are placed in an adoptive family compared with 30% of children who attend an adoption party. Given the success of these events in the USA in linking and matching children it is hoped that facilitating such events here will hopefully enhance the chances of finding families for those children who may otherwise miss the opportunity of having a permanent family.
The East Midlands Consortium were the only group of agencies that volunteered to work in partnership with BAAF following a period of consultation in 2009-10.
How the pilot project was managed
A steering group with representatives from the participating agencies in the consortium provided external governance and guidance for the project. This project involved children who had a placement order and adopters who were approved or had a date set for panel within three months of an event
A considerable amount of time has been spent preparing social workers, foster carers and children for being involved in an Adoption Activity Day. Protocols for referring children and adopters were developed and agreed by the steering group along with referral forms and an information pack which includes advice on how to prepare children for a new family alongside guidance on how to specifically prepare them for an activity day.
Attending an Adoption Activity Day may not be right for some children. It may increase their anxieties and they may not be able to manage the stress of attending such an event. So very careful consideration was given by partner agencies to the children they chose to refer. It was important to have a ‘team’ around the child to support them before, during and after an Activity Day. Social workers and foster carers needed careful guidance, preparation and support to enable them to effectively support the child.
Preparing children and giving them the opportunity to be actively involved in the family finding process has been one of the biggest challenges of the project. Alongside their general preparation for adoption children were prepared specifically for attending an Adoption Activity Day. They knew it was going to be a fun day and those children who are of sufficient age and understanding are told that it is an opportunity to meet families who want to adopt and also to meet other children who need a new family.
170 children have attended the first 4 events and we have identified families for 29 of these children. Children i.e. 17% of the children that have attended.
There have also been many ‘softer’ benefits:
- For adopters - the opportunity to meet real children, dispelling the myths about children in care, having the opportunity to think more widely about the resource they are offering, feeling more confident about what they have to offer as potential parents.
- For foster carers – being involved in the family finding process
- For Social workers – having the opportunity to spend quality time with their child, improving practice in preparation of children for adoption and writing profiles. For adopters social workers the opportunity to observe adopters with children.
- For children – for some finding a family for them to grow up in, having the opportunity to meet other children like them and meet families who are thinking of adopting.
Below is more information and feedback on each of the pilot Adoption Activity Days. Click the links to find out more.
The project has been externally evaluated by researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University.
Media interest in Adoption Activity Days
- The Times article entitled Adoption parties ‘boost a child’s chance’
- Victoria Derbyshire radio show
- Bringing up Britain a BBC 4 radio show
- The BBC's article on adoption parties
- The project has been featured on Woman’s Hour
- The Guardian's article on adoption parties
If you want to know more
If you want to know more
Contact Bridget Betts by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Adoption Activity Day – Sat 22 June 2013, East Midlands - spaces available!
Further dates now announced - 07 July in Maidstone, 13 July in Cheshire and 14 July in Staffordshire.
Are you an approved adopter waiting for a link with a child, or an adopter in the assessment process who has a panel date by September 2013?
At an adoption activity day children have the opportunity to meet families like you who want to adopt and also meet other children who are waiting to be adopted. You can join in a range of activities with the children and there will also be opportunity to talk to their foster carers and social workers.
If you think you might like to attend or are interested in knowing more please contact Rebecca Parkes, Adoption Activity Day Administrator on 0121 753 7791 or email at Rebecca.Parkes@baaf.org.uk.