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Family Futures’ response to the goverment’s recent ‘focus on adoption’ policy

Posted in: News

Where is the support to make adoption a good option for traumatised children?

The Children’s Minister, Michelle Donelan, recently wrote to all Directors of Children’s Services urging them to consider adoption as a permanence option, stating: “we are determined to see adoption pursued whenever it is in a child’s best interests.” This follows a steady decline in the number of adoptions in the past four years, in spite of rising numbers of children in care.

Permanence and stability, whether it is in an adoptive home, special guardianship home or foster care is rightly what is needed for children who cannot live with their birth families but we are still missing the point. You can’t just transplant a traumatised child into a new family and think the child and family are going to thrive. Children who have suffered ‘significant harm’ through abuse or neglect in their early years need long term therapeutic support. The Adoption Support Fund (ASF) has been a welcome step forward for adoptive families to access support, but the capped level of funding means that those families who need more than a low level of intervention are still not getting their needs met.  Without more support, over and above the capped ASF, adoption is setting many new families up to fail.

What is needed is a more systematic approach to assessing children in a multi-disciplinary way so that their complex needs can be addressed, and a streamed allocation of ASF funding would ensure these children and their families get the appropriate level of support. Our research shows the significantly improved outcomes for adopted children with complex needs who received holistic therapeutic support. As a society, we need to design an adoption system that works for the families who come forward to provide a loving, stable home to our most vulnerable children.

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