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Archive: Blog

Sensory Summer Activities

Tips from our team of Ocupational Therapists/ Sensory Integration Practitioners at Family Futures

Have a look at our Sensory Summer Activities guide here with tips for parents and carers on keeping structure going through the summer, sun screen recommendations plus activity ideas for at home, the pool, the beach and outdoor play.

Kindness and Commitment are the Keys to Family Futures’ Approach

Therapist, Adam Goren, reflects on how to best meet the needs of families in stress or distress

Coming to Family Futures from a small local authority post adoption support team felt like moving to the gold standard service. Years back I saw a BBC documentary called ‘A Home for Maisie’ and admired the work of the therapists with the featured adopted girl and her family. And I remember thinking that in another life I might work in a place like that.

It was only a few weeks into my job at Family Futures that I realised that this was the same place! What attracted me was a completely different model of working from that of classical child psychotherapy.

Working with traumatised children I realised that talking therapy wasn’t in and of itself enough. Children had sensory and physical difficulties and suffered from huge anxiety.

I was looking for something else to help my work to be more effective. Family Futures offered a much broader more inclusive range of tools for helping children and families. When I arrived I was somewhat awed with a bit of survivor guilt. There are not the same resource pressures as in the local authority and the emphasis is definitely on quality long term support. I also felt really tested to think outside the box of my professional training, even though this was what I was searching for. I had to get used to different creative ways of working and to working alongside staff from a wide range of professional backgrounds in sessions.

I was struck by how much time was carved out for planning and calibrating the support to suit each family’s specific needs. We are always asking how can we improve what we are offering and what more can we do? But I think that what I was most struck by was how totally passionately committed Family Futures is to helping families. Kindness and commitment maybe somewhat under-rated qualities, but they strike me as some of the most powerful tools we have in helping families in stress or distress.   

Moving from Significant Harm to Significant Help

New Family Futures Fact Sheet – The impact of Significant Harm

Download The impact of Significant Harm Fact Sheet here.

Most children placed for adoption today have been removed from their birth families because of “significant harm”. The significant harm they have suffered causes significant harm to their subsequent development, as evidenced by neuroscientific research. Understanding and assessing the impact of significant harm will inform what support or therapeutic intervention is needed to address these developmental issues.

Alan Burnell, Registered Manager at Family Futures said:

“By taking significant harm as our starting point we are beginning to tackle the epicentre of developmental trauma, rather than forever trying to manage the aftershocks.

We need to move from seeing adoption support as helping families in crisis to seeing it as developmental repair.  Let’s help children move from significant harm to significant help.”



Moving Foster Placements – Scott’s story

15 year old Scott’s blog highlights how complex, painful and often neglected by social workers and others the process of transition can be

For a long time Family Futures have recognised the importance of managing transitions well, not just as a logistical exercise but as a therapeutic opportunity. During transitions, children need people around them who can help them to express their feelings of loss, abandonment, fear and anger. Our course Helping Fostered Children Transition to a New Family encourages parents and professionals to think through key issues around transitions in order to offer more support for a child through this period.

Too many ACEs up their sleeve

Alan Burnell, Family Futures’ Registered Manager, comments on research into Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) highlighted in the new film ‘Resilience’

The post with the greatest reach on our social networking sites recently was the Guardian article we shared on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). We are delighted that these research studies which began in 1995 and more recently reported in the Welsh Adverse Childhood Experiences Study are showing a link between Adverse Childhood Experiences and later life physical and mental health problems and shortened life expectancy, which we are aiming to redress through early intervention and therapeutic services.

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Neurofeedback – Is it Science Fiction?

Family Futures has completed a neurofeedback pilot with five children, which involved using computer games to reprogramme brainwaves.

Research shows that neurofeedback reduces the symptoms of conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. There is now growing evidence that it also works with children who have developmental trauma. It is currently being researched by Bessel van der Kolk in Boston with developmentally traumatised children.

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Children who experience trauma can display social, emotional and cognitive problems during their lives

“Many young children adopted from Romanian orphanages by UK families in the early 90s are still experiencing mental health problems even in adulthood, researchers say”, says an article on the BBC.

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Bruce Perry on the lingering effects of childhood trauma

Are you an an adoptive parent, foster carer or special guardian caring for a child who has experienced trauma? Psychiatrist Bruce Perry is optimistic about the future

We wanted to share an interview in The Sun Magazine with Bruce Perry about his views on childhood trauma with adoptive parents and carers.

Perry makes it clear that resolving sustained trauma in the birth family takes time, but he is optimistic that many of these children can and will have a positive future.

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How can we ensure the Adoption Support Fund works for those in urgent need?

Family Futures’ Registered Manager, Alan Burnell, says a new model is needed for the Adoption Support Fund to better support those families in crisis

The Government’s recognition of post-adoption support is vital and should be applauded, as this will ensure adoption placements don’t break down. However, I don’t believe the Adoption Support Fund has come up with the right formula.

The demand for the Adoption Support Fund has been higher than anticipated. I recognise that. Funding is also finite. However, I think “fair access” and “matched funding” aren’t the best use of the fund.

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Ways of seeing

Family Futures’ Registered Manager, Alan Burnell, dispels the link between ‘adoption’ and ‘children’s difficult behaviour’

The death of John Berger has brought one of his key quotes to the fore – “What we see affects what we understand, what we understand influences what actions we take”.

Last year I became increasingly troubled with the constant reference to adopted children and their difficulties and the need for post-adoption support. What troubled me was seeing the words ‘adoption ‘and ‘fostering’ being connected to children’s problematic behaviour.

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