Families for Children

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Families for Children's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Families for Children is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

www.familiesforchildren.org.uk

THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
26 | FAMILIES FOR CHILDREN
CEO Ruth Marriott
Finding the right family for the
right children is our specialism
Families for Children is a specialist independent voluntary
adoption agency based in the South West. It finds and
supports adoptive families for vulnerable children across
the UK, and celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2018. CEO Ruth
Marriott says that the agency’s commitment to quality and high
standards have helped it grow over those 25 years into one of
the largest voluntary adoption agencies in the UK. Its success,
Ruth says, has been recognised by the fact that they have
achieved an “outstanding” Ofsted rating three times in a row.
We recruit adoptive families from across the South West and prepare them to
take on vulnerable children. These children always come from local authority care,
having experienced significant neglect or abuse, and are based across the UK.
The help we provide to these families is vital, as having well-trained, prepared and
supported families ensures that the children we place can have a happy and secure
home life.
According to statistics published by the Adoption Leadership Board, there are
currently 2,500 children in the UK waiting to be adopted. For every year they wait,
their chances of being adopted decreases by 20 per cent. This number is only set to
grow and we are working hard to find adoptive families across the South West to
try and prevent this.
We currently have three sites: one in Buckfast, one in Dorset and a final site in North
Devon. Our work is divided between finding and training new adoptive parents and
supporting our families when they need us. When placing children, we focus on early
FACTS ABOUT
FAMILIES FOR CHILDREN
»CEO: Ruth Marriott
»Established in 2003 through
the merging of two pre-
existing agencies
»Based in Buckfast, Devon
»Services: Support for adoptive
parents and children in
Devon, Dorset, Cornwall and
Somerset
»No. of employees: 50, plus 14
peer mentors
Families for Children
27FAMILIES FOR CHILDREN |
HEALTH & SOCIAL WORK
interventions to ensure they are able to
thrive, and after this we support them
through their journey as adopters.
In order to ensure we are providing a
comprehensive service, we offer birth
record counselling and therapeutic life
story work for our children and also
run support groups and activities for
adopters in the area.
Right time, right support
Over the last year, we have focused
on ensuring stability and permanence
from the very outset of the placement,
an approach characterised by its
accompanying motto: “Right time,
right support”. In order to provide
the highest level of assistance, we
work hard to match each family to the
worker that would meet their needs at
that time. This takes into account both
their background and their training,
carefully assessing the requirements of
each family and who would best suit
them. Beyond this, we also support
families to access clinical psychologists
through the Adoption Support Fund
for higher level needs.
This adaptation and flexibility is a key
strength of our service. Each family will
need a slightly different type of input
at different times and we match our
workers to these criteria: while some
adopters may require clinical services,
others will seek peer support. In
addition to this, we have incorporated
additional elements to complement
this main provision.
An example of this is our “Setting the
Pace” initiative. Usually, when social
workers assess adopters and approve
them, it is these workers who liaise
with the family at this stage. We have
found that this is a crucial time for
the family support worker to become
involved, working with the parents
during this linking time to ensure
they understand the implications of
the child’s history and their individual
needs. This means parents can begin
to parent therapeutically from the
outset rather than having to adapt to
crises as they arise.
The first session of this programme is
held before the child is placed, helping
the adoptive family to understand
any developmental trauma they may
have experienced and assisting them
to think carefully about each child’s
experiences. After this, each family can
choose from five different sessions.
All of these sessions are practical and
hands-on and Peer Link mentors can
help to bring adoptive parents into
peer support networks and specialist
groups for adopted children.
Striking the right balance
In our view, there are two main
challenges that are affecting adoption
agencies across the country. The
first centres on ensuring we have
sufficient – and the right – adopters
comingforward.
Adopters need to understand the
challenges they may potentially face
in the future and we assist them to
develop a therapeutic approach to
parenting in order to nurture their
child. In order to achieve success in Our peer mentors are a
vital part of our support
service
Adopters need
to understand
the challenges
they may face in
the future, and
we can assist
them to develop
a therapeutic
approach to
parenting in
order to nurture
their child
BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
26 | FAMILIES FOR CHILDREN
CEO Ruth Marriott
Finding the right family for the
right children is our specialism
Families for Children is a specialist independent voluntary
adoption agency based in the South West. It finds and
supports adoptive families for vulnerable children across
the UK, and celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2018. CEO Ruth
Marriott says that the agency’s commitment to quality and high
standards have helped it grow over those 25 years into one of
the largest voluntary adoption agencies in the UK. Its success,
Ruth says, has been recognised by the fact that they have
achieved an “outstanding” Ofsted rating three times in a row.
We recruit adoptive families from across the South West and prepare them to
take on vulnerable children. These children always come from local authority care,
having experienced significant neglect or abuse, and are based across the UK.
The help we provide to these families is vital, as having well-trained, prepared and
supported families ensures that the children we place can have a happy and secure
home life.
According to statistics published by the Adoption Leadership Board, there are
currently 2,500 children in the UK waiting to be adopted. For every year they wait,
their chances of being adopted decreases by 20 per cent. This number is only set to
grow and we are working hard to find adoptive families across the South West to
try and prevent this.
We currently have three sites: one in Buckfast, one in Dorset and a final site in North
Devon. Our work is divided between finding and training new adoptive parents and
supporting our families when they need us. When placing children, we focus on early
FACTS ABOUT
FAMILIES FOR CHILDREN
»CEO: Ruth Marriott
»Established in 2003 through
the merging of two pre-
existing agencies
»Based in Buckfast, Devon
»Services: Support for adoptive
parents and children in
Devon, Dorset, Cornwall and
Somerset
»No. of employees: 50, plus 14
peer mentors
Families for Children
27FAMILIES FOR CHILDREN |
HEALTH & SOCIAL WORK
interventions to ensure they are able to
thrive, and after this we support them
through their journey as adopters.
In order to ensure we are providing a
comprehensive service, we offer birth
record counselling and therapeutic life
story work for our children and also
run support groups and activities for
adopters in the area.
Right time, right support
Over the last year, we have focused
on ensuring stability and permanence
from the very outset of the placement,
an approach characterised by its
accompanying motto: “Right time,
right support”. In order to provide
the highest level of assistance, we
work hard to match each family to the
worker that would meet their needs at
that time. This takes into account both
their background and their training,
carefully assessing the requirements of
each family and who would best suit
them. Beyond this, we also support
families to access clinical psychologists
through the Adoption Support Fund
for higher level needs.
This adaptation and flexibility is a key
strength of our service. Each family will
need a slightly different type of input
at different times and we match our
workers to these criteria: while some
adopters may require clinical services,
others will seek peer support. In
addition to this, we have incorporated
additional elements to complement
this main provision.
An example of this is our “Setting the
Pace” initiative. Usually, when social
workers assess adopters and approve
them, it is these workers who liaise
with the family at this stage. We have
found that this is a crucial time for
the family support worker to become
involved, working with the parents
during this linking time to ensure
they understand the implications of
the child’s history and their individual
needs. This means parents can begin
to parent therapeutically from the
outset rather than having to adapt to
crises as they arise.
The first session of this programme is
held before the child is placed, helping
the adoptive family to understand
any developmental trauma they may
have experienced and assisting them
to think carefully about each child’s
experiences. After this, each family can
choose from five different sessions.
All of these sessions are practical and
hands-on and Peer Link mentors can
help to bring adoptive parents into
peer support networks and specialist
groups for adopted children.
Striking the right balance
In our view, there are two main
challenges that are affecting adoption
agencies across the country. The
first centres on ensuring we have
sufficient – and the right – adopters
comingforward.
Adopters need to understand the
challenges they may potentially face
in the future and we assist them to
develop a therapeutic approach to
parenting in order to nurture their
child. In order to achieve success in Our peer mentors are a
vital part of our support
service
Adopters need
to understand
the challenges
they may face in
the future, and
we can assist
them to develop
a therapeutic
approach to
parenting in
order to nurture
their child
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
28 | FAMILIES FOR CHILDREN
this, a delicate balance must be struck
between ensuring each adoptive family
appreciates what is required without
dissuading them from adopting and
understanding the joy adoption can
bring. We make sure they understand
that we will provide them with support
throughout the key transitions in their
family’s lives, should they need it, long
beyond the point ofplacement.
Going forward, the Adoption Support
Fund will be crucial to our efforts to
achieve these goals. The fund enables
therapeutic intervention and has
a focus on a clinical, psychological
overview which benefits both the
children and their adoptive families.
There is uncertainty as to whether
the fund will continue after 2020 but
in our view, there is still very much a
need for it.
From an ethical standpoint, it is crucial
that families know they won’t be
alone; the Adoption Support Fund is
only one aspect of continued support.
It is important to enable families to feel
they can dip in and out and approach
you when they have a need, not when
it has become a crisis.
The role of regional adoption
agencies
The other challenge faced by voluntary
adoption agencies is the balance
and relationship with regional
adoption agencies. We have positive
relationships with our local regional
agencies but one of the unintended
consequences of their development,
has been to reduce the need to pay
interagency fees.
This can lead to tensions with voluntary
adoption agencies such as ours but we
have worked hard to come together to
ensure we can improve children’s and
families lives across the South West.
Unfortunately, even though we work
together collaboratively, delays can
still occur due to difficulty in reaching
agreement to pay interagency fees
and as the adoption register no longer
exits, there is no way to record this.
In order to continue to help adoptive
families across the country, we have
developed a five-year strategy with
adoption at its core. Our aim is to
continue to develop our best practice
and concentrate on practical adoption
help as well as a therapeutic approach.
We are also developing support to assist
adolescents and parents as we know
this is a key transition which requires
additional support. We are fortunate
to have a benefactor who has given us
the exclusive use of a barn on the edge
of Dartmoor close to Plymouth.
From here, we can provide targeted
youth work using an outdoor
education approach to engage with
young people, combining this with
a therapeutic approach to help
parents at this key transition phase.
By continuing to develop our own
practice and seeking out new ways of
supporting those we work with, we
are confident we can continue the
journey we started over 25 years ago.
Flexibility is a
key strength
of our service.
Each family
will need a
different type
of support at
different
times
Adopters; ordinary
people doing
extraordinary things

www.familiesforchildren.org.uk

This article was sponsored by Families for Children. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.



Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development