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Have you seen our ‘Brain Game’ animation?

If you’re looking for a way to explain to children how the brain’s development is affected by traumatic experiences in childhood & how you can help change the way your brain works, watch the Introduction and read more information here.

You can read a review of The Brain Game here.

“I am so impressed with this video. Something for children is much needed. I showed it to my 16 year old adopted daughter who has a trauma history and to my 12 year old birth son. They both really liked it and understood the information. My daughter even came back to me a few hours later to discuss some of it. So, as a parent, thank you so much for creating this resource!” Adoptive parent

The Brain Game – Family Futures

Alan Burnell’s retirement

After 21 years at the helm of Family Futures, our co-founder and co-director, Alan Burnell, will be retiring in September 2019

Family Futures would like to announce that Alan Burnell will be retiring in September 2019. As a founder member and co-director of Family Futures, Alan has dedicated his career to improving the lives of adopted and fostered children and their families.

After leaving university, Alan worked in social services, was a founder member of the Post Adoption Centre and went on to be its Director. In 1998, in collaboration with Jay Vaughan and Christine Gordon, Alan set up Family Futures as a pioneering, bespoke therapy service for the contemporary adoptive family. Over the past 21 years, Family Futures has evolved and grown to be the outstanding and renowned centre of excellence it is today.

Alan will be succeeded by Jay Vaughan, who will become CEO of Family Futures in September 2019. This transition has been five years in the planning to ensure as seamless a transition as possible.

If you would like to send message to Alan on his retirement, please email us here.

Child on parent violence (CPV) and early childhood trauma

Adoption UK’s Adoption Barometer highlights the issues affecting adoptive families in the UK today

The majority of adopted, fostered and SGO children have suffered abuse in infancy. They have been removed from their birth families because of “significant harm”. Sadly, this significant harm has already impaired the child’s brain development, leaving them hardwired for anxiety and affecting their ability to regulate emotions.

As an adoptive mother said this week in a recent Channel 4 news film: “Children who have been neglected, who have been to hell and back, and are trying to grow up, have overwhelming feelings and they don’t know what to do with them. They can’t put them into words.”  In the majority of cases with adopted, fostered and SGO children, we know from our experience that Child on Parent violence (CPV) is a consequence of early child abuse and neglect, and needs a robust therapeutic response from placing agencies. The government should prioritise the Adoption Support Fund to fund long-term therapy for every child placed for adoption to address the problems these damaged children now face and to give them a chance in life. If the family’s whole network, including the school, understand the impact of trauma and form a team of support around each child, families affected by CPV will start to get the understanding and support they desperately need.

New consultation service for children with FASD

Dr Raja Mukherjee runs our first FASD clinic for families in treatment at Family Futures

We’re very pleased to be pioneering a Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) consultation & advice service for families in treatment here, in collaboration with Surrey & Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. FASD is a ‘hidden epidemic’ affecting at least 2 out of every 100 people in the UK and around three quarters of looked after children are thought to be at risk. More awareness and support is needed for those suffering from the lifelong brain damage and symptoms of FASD, often currently misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. Our new consultation service is run by Dr Raja Mukherjee, a consultant psychiatrist and internationally acclaimed expert in FASD.

How can Theraplay help traumatised children?

Watch the latest video in our Helping Families Heal series

We’re delighted to share the latest video in our Helping Families Heal series, hosted by a parent who has adopted a child through Family Futures. How Theraplay® helps children who have experienced complex trauma is discussed with Sarah Kerrigan who is a Senior Dramatherapist at Family Futures and Theraplay Practitioner in training with intermediate status. Watch Sarah demonstrate some Theraplay games in a role play and answer questions adoptive parents have about how assessments and sessions work, how you can integrate Theraplay into your home routine and tips on finding a Theraplay practitioner for your family. Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel to see our other videos and let us know your comments.

Big Adoption Day 5 June 2019

Do you feel able to provide a home for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children in the care system?

We’re holding an Information Evening on Wednesday 5 June from 7pm-8pm at Family Futures. Come along and find out more about the adoption process and how we can support you in caring for a child who has had a traumatic start in life to give them a better future. We can discuss any questions you may have about adopting a child, or you can also call us between 9.30am and 4.30pm, Monday to Thursday to speak to one of our team. Find out more about adopting a child with Family Futures here

Prospective adopters receive outstanding support and guidance from dedicated workers throughout the adoption process.” Ofsted 2018

Please email us to let us know if you are coming to the Information Evening.

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.


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