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Archive: News

The future of the Adoption Support Fund – please share your views

Inquiry into ASF invites responses from adoptees, adopters, social workers, agencies, LAs & support providers

The new All-Party Parliamentary Group for Adoption and Permanence has set up an inquiry to consider the future of the Adoption Support Fund (ASF), examining the role it has played in supporting children and families engaged in adoption and special guardianship arrangements.

The inquiry will focus on:

  • the accessibility of the ASF, including timings and the application process
  • types of support accessed and gaps in support provision
  • long and short-term impacts of support accessed through the fund

The group will examine evidence presented covering these areas and make recommendations to Government around the future of post adoption support.

Please share your views via this survey link which also includes a separate survey for young people to complete. The inquiry is inviting responses from adoptees, adopters, social workers, agencies, LAs & support providers (deadline 24 April at 12pm).

Training for Social Workers – Therapeutic Life Story Work

Are you working with adopted or looked after children?

We still have spaces on our Therapeutic Life Story Work course running 23 to 25 April. This professional development training will give you a framework and the confidence to address difficult issues from the past with traumatised children. The course will also give you the ability to use non-verbal and creative arts to help children express difficult and complex feelings, plus guidance on how to use life story work to support facilitated contact.
Find out more about our professional development training here.

Helping Families Heal – an adoptive parent speaks to Dan Hughes


We are very pleased to be launching our Helping Families Heal series of videos, hosted by a parent who has adopted a child through Family Futures. In this first video, Dr Dan Hughes, Clinical Psychologist and founder of DDP (Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy) gives his thoughts and suggestions on some of the trickiest questions for adopters today:

Should you let sleeping dogs lie?…Is there a danger of ‘putting ideas into their heads’ if you talk to a child about their past? Especially where a child’s trauma was very early on, pre-verbal and the child has no actual memories. 

What about children for whom talking about emotions is a trigger?

Other questions Dan addresses here include:

What about children who are shut down?

How can parents and carers work with schools…help their child make friends…get beyond ‘blocked care’?

Can sensory integration intervention help?

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to see our upcoming videos in the series and please share with adopters, carers and professionals you know.

New Professional Development and Parent Education programme 2019 

Family Futures 2019 training – now available to book online

“Extremely inspiring. I really cannot wait to start the preparation and use the resources and strategies of the course to start Life Story work.”
Our training this year for professionals, parents, carers and special guardians is based on our research, and clinical practice. All our trainers have specialist knowledge, expertise and experience of child development and will focus on giving you practical tips and techniques to use and share with others. Have a look at our list of courses for 2019 below and click on the title link to find out more or to book your place.

Parent education training can be funded by the Adoption Support Fund. You need to make an application through your local authority adoption support service for this funding. If you have any queries about booking training, please contact Claire on 020 7354 4161 or email us.

From Hindsight to Mindsight – the practical application of the neuro-sequential,  NPP approach to the everyday practice of working with Developmentally Traumatised Children
14, 15, 16 & 30 May 2019
For social workers, therapists and psychologists
 Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy Level Two
4 to 7 February 2019
For therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers. Dr Dan Hughes will deliver this training on his treatment model which involves working with a child and their family to improve attachment relationships.
Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy Level One
11 to 14 November 2019        Trainer: Dr Dan Hughes

  Trainers are UK-based & Certified Theraplay therapists, supervisors and trainers. Theraplay courses are for psychologists and psychiatrists, occupational therapists, social workers, speech and language therapists, counsellors, adoption and post-adoption counsellors, family therapists, early childhood & developmental specialists and teachers.

Theraplay Level One and Group Theraplay
1 to 5 April 2019

Group Theraplay
2 to 3 May 2019

Theraplay Level Two
25 to 27 November 2019

 Therapeutic Life Story Work
23 to 25 April 2019
For social workers working with adopted and Looked After children
 Siblings Together or Apart
7 to 8 May 2019
Social workers in Looked After children, fostering and adoption teams; adoption and fostering team managers; clinical psychologists, paediatric occupational therapists, therapists, solicitors, panel members, adoption support agency service providers, psychiatrists, paediatricians and teachers

 The Great Behaviour Breakdown. Bryan Post’s follow up to Beyond Consequences

3, 4 & 18 June 2019
For adoptive parents, prospective adopters awaiting placements, foster carers, social workers (Adoption, Fostering), teachers, health visitors, parents of abused/traumatised children.

 

Our Occupational Therapy Team have put together some ideas for sensory activities with children and tips for the festive season

Family Futures Sensory Christmas activities

Click here for the full list of sensory activities and tips for the festive season 

Create a sensory Christmas bottle with your child

Spotting the hidden items can have a calming effect at night time.

Fill a plastic bottle with glitter glue (1/3) and add some small beads, stars, glitter, letters, marbles, small plastic animals etc. Fill it up with water. Use hot glue to shut the lid.

Make your own decoration

Great to encourage fine motor and praxis skills, and the pipe cleaners provide tactile stimulation.

You will need: Various beads and pipe cleaners. Place three pipe cleaner strands overlapping. Fix them in the middle with a small piece of pipe cleaner. Parents can also prepare the star shapes and help their children. Have fun putting the beads on the rays. Encourage the child to work in patterns. Tie an additional thread around it and decorate your tree or your room with it!

            

 

Do you have an interest in or personal experience of adoption?

Would you consider joining our Adoption Panel?

We’re looking to increase numbers of Independent Panel Members available to attend our Adoption Panel. The aim of the Panel is to ensure we have carried out a thorough assessment of prospective adopters, in order to find the best possible parents for children in need of a permanent home. The role is an interesting, responsible and at times challenging one. To find out more information, visit our Join Us page.

Acting Out – a creative arts event in support of adopted young people

Join us for an inspiring range of performances in support of the Young People’s Forum

Tickets are now on sale for Acting Out – in support of adopted young people. The event will showcase an exciting range of creative arts performed by Forum supporters, members and outside professionals who have kindly donated their time.

Join us on Saturday 27 October to watch an inspiring range of performers – a professional dancer (Asmara), a filmmaker (Shabazz), a rapper (Malachi) and more. There will be Q&A sessions with performers and a chance to meet up with other young people at the event.

Tickets are £5 each and funds raised will go back into to the Young People’s Forum so that we can continue to fund activities and workshops for our young people.

Venue: The Rosemary Branch Theatre, 2 Shepperton Rd, London N1 3DT
Date: Saturday 27 October
Time: 11.30am

Book your tickets here:   Book now
and find out more about the event and performers here.

Family Futures rated Outstanding by Ofsted, 2018

“A nationally recognised centre of excellence for therapeutic adoption and adoption support services”

Family Futures has been rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted (August 2018) for the third time in a row and under the new, more robust Ofsted inspection framework. Ofsted recognised that:

“The agency is a nationally recognised centre of excellence for therapeutic adoption and adoption support services which address the damage caused by early developmental trauma. The agency has developed its own highly effective therapeutic model over many years, which has been externally evaluated.”

“Children and their families receive holistic care of exceptional quality, which results in excellent experiences, outcomes and progress.”

Read Ofsted’s 2018 report here

Alan Burnell, Family Futures’ Registered Manager, comments on our Outstanding Ofsted rating, 2018:

Modelling a better future for families   

If 20 years of helping families heal is a crowning achievement, then the jewels in our crown are this summer’s Ofsted inspection and our recent round of research. We are very proud that for the third inspection in a row and under the new, more robust Ofsted inspection framework we once again have been judged as Outstanding. One of the criteria of the inspection framework is ‘how well children, young people and adults are helped and protected’. This was judged to be Outstanding. The inspectors reached this conclusion in part because of our research programme. Read More…

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.”

 

 

Family Futures celebrates 20 years of helping families heal

Alan Burnell, Registered Manager and co-founder of Family Futures, shares his reflections on how the work of Family Futures has developed over the past 20 years

Though we’re celebrating 20 years since the birth of Family Futures the idea was actually conceived 30 years ago. At that time, in the 1980s, adoptive parents who had adopted older children, sibling groups or children with complex needs were receiving no post adoption support of any significance or to any effect.

In that sense our service was conceived from anger and despair with the intention of providing hope and change.

As practitioners working in the early days of post adoption support, we were challenged to find clinical interventions and theoretical models that would help us and adoptive parents make sense of the struggles they were having with their (what we would now understand as) traumatised children.

At its inception, Family Futures used attachment theory as developed by John Bowlby, which was our first step towards understanding why adopted children were so challenging. It was our getting to know Dr Dan Hughes and his work that enabled us to translate attachment theory into clinical practice. This relationship with Dan Hughes has been seminal. Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) is a training course we have offered since that time and integrated it into our work.

                    

In early 2000, our Educational Psychologist, Richard Lansdown, based on his clinical experience of Great Ormond Street Hospital, realised that the children he was assessing at Family Futures had Executive Functioning difficulties.  Their problem-solving and cognitive processing had been impaired by early neglect and abuse.

After five years of Family Futures’ work with families, and having looked at so many horrible histories of the children we were working with, we realised that this population of children not only had attachment difficulties but were highly traumatised by neglect and abuse in early infancy.

It was then that the work of Bruce Perry and Bessel van der Kolk provided a neurological basis for our understanding regarding the impact of trauma on child development. The final piece of the jigsaw was at this time our emerging awareness of Jean Ayres and Sensory Integration. It became apparent to us that neglect and abuse in infancy had a developmental impact upon how children are able to regulate their sensory information both internally and externally.

In 2006, we published our first paper which outlined our neurosequential approach to treatment in which we integrated therapeutic interventions that were sensory, attachment and cognitively focussed, and we linked them to the triune brain.

We have subsequently called our model of therapeutic intervention Neuro-Physiological Psychotherapy. For children who have experienced ‘significant harm’ there are developmental consequences that impact their sensory motor development, their affect and attachment, and their cognitive processing abilities.

In order to respond appropriately to this complex picture, Family Futures has had to develop over the last twenty years, an integrated, multidisciplinary team of professionals all dedicated to and with an expert understanding of the neurological, biological and psychological needs of adopted children.

This approach has been validated by 2 research papers published in 2016, one outlining our model and the other evaluating the model’s efficacy.

Though we are child-centred, we are parent-friendly and family-focused. These are key aspects of our ethos. We have worked hard to combine clinical excellence with compassion; empathy with expertise. As the proverb says,

“It’s better to light a candle than to curse the dark.”

 

20 years of helping families heal

Family Futures 2018 Conference – Assessing and Treating Traumatised Children

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