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An opportunity for change

Posted in: Blog

Jay Vaughan, Registered Manager of Family Futures, reflects on how we can best support traumatised children and their families

I have now been Registered Manager of Family Futures for 5 months, and what a 5 months it has been! I have moved desk, which might not seem a big deal to some, but change is hard and the desk move process and adjusting to the hotter temperature in my new desk area has taken time (and fewer jumpers) and symbolises the increased ‘heat’ of the new role. 

It has been a roller coaster of a ride! The last five months have seen the Regions, in London in particular, getting up and running but struggling with the sheer number of referrals for post adoption support. The new Children’s Minister has said adoption is a priority and there was some back lash against this from those representing special guardians and foster children.

Families are finding they need so much more than the Adoption Support Fund (ASF) capped rate of funding to address the harm caused by abuse and prolonged trauma to their child. I felt astonished by the silence about this as I know our advice line and service has been full of families desperate for support and struggling to even get hold of a social worker in the current reorganisation into regions.

The ASF has been given at least another year, which is good news, and yet the system around it has not been improved or rethought, in spite of the knowledge that so many adoptive families are struggling to access the support they need. The Adoption Barometer by Adoption UK in 2019, reported 70% of established adoptive families struggle to get the help and support their child needs. Sadly, it seems that many families are worse off now than before, as getting an assessment for an ASF application can be so hard in the current climate.

And yet curiously nothing was said that questioned how we, as a society, can talk about increasing the number of adoptions when the adoption support is not in place for families who come forward.

In the midst of all of this I have been interviewed for Radio 4’s File on 4 programme about sibling placements, and I was also interviewed for Newsnight about adoption support although press about the Royals ended up taking the slot! So it seems to me, being Registered Manager of Family Futures, for now at least, has been about speaking up for the children and families who so desperately need a voice when they are living with the challenges of supporting a traumatised child.

Meanwhile VAA’s are struggling around the country and the message from CVAA (the Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies) is that they need to ensure that they have good business management and need to diversify in order to survive in this climate of cut backs. Family Futures is definitely feeling the pinch, but I am confident that we are well on the case with good business and financial management to ensure our survival. We have plans in place for diversification, with Family Futures about to register as an Independent Fostering Agency, and we are developing our training services to include online training.

I am of the view that Family Futures is small and pioneering but we have a role to play in evidencing good practice.

As one of the founding members of Family Futures I have been here from the very first day back in April 1998. Helping traumatised children and their families heal is at the heart of what we do and my background as a Dramatherapist, Theraplay Trainer/Supervisor, Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapist and Somatic Experience Practitioner keeps me mindful of the journey we are all on to support the healing process for children who have suffered significant harm in their early years.

I feel proud to be the Registered Manager of such  a dedicated team of people at Family Futures, all working hard to ensure that the children and families having assessment and treatment, or children being matched and placed with parents through our i-Adopt service, are still getting an excellent service. I feel proud of the training team and those working hard to develop our services and launch We-foster!

We will continue to strive to ensure we provide a service of excellence validated by research and to speak out on behalf of children and families. The challenge is on for me in my new role, but five months in, I feel there are important things I can contribute to try and ensure that we find a better way of supporting traumatised children in their foster, special guardianship, kinship care or adoptive families.

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