#YouCanAdopt campaign encourages people to consider adopting brothers and sisters
There are 2,030 children waiting to be adopted in England - and groups of siblings wait an average of 135 days longer than individual children. A new nationwide campaign, #YOUCANADOPT, has launched to encourage those considering adoption to think about adopting brothers and sisters together.
A new nationwide campaign, #YOUCANADOPT, has launched to encourage those considering adoption to think about adopting brothers and sisters together.
Latest figures show there are currently 2,030 children waiting to be adopted in England. Of those, approximately 44% are in family groups of two or more. Groups of children wait an average of 17 months to be adopted, which is 36% longer (135 days more) than individual children. More than half of these groups (56%) even wait more than 18 months for their new family.
New research released as part of the campaign explores adopting brothers and sisters and the benefits of keeping family groups together. It shows that a key motivation of those wanting to adopt is to extend, or to start, a family (58%). Furthermore, 62% of parents who adopted just one child now believe they could have adopted brothers and sisters.
The biggest worry around adopting a family group of children is that people don’t have a big enough house or enough money to adopt brothers and sisters. However, financial support may be available to those who choose to adopt brothers and sisters. The advantage also is that multiple children can share a bedroom until they are older.
While there are challenges, 88% of parents that adopted brothers and sisters say the positives outweigh any challenges. Furthermore, 61% acknowledge that adopting children with their brothers and sisters has been the most beneficial factor in their child’s adoption journey.
To find out more and begin your journey to grow your family, visit www.youcanadopt.co.uk/brothersandsisters, or check our handy Agency Finder to get in touch with your nearest voluntary adoption agency.
These children are waiting – why are you?
A group of VAAs from across the UK have joined forces to find adopters for children who wait the longest.
A group of Voluntary Adoption Agencies from across the UK have joined forces to encourage potential adopters to come forward for the children who wait the longest.
Brothers and sisters who need to stay together, children aged 4 and over, children with additional needs, and children of a diverse range of backgrounds, cultures and religions wait the longest for adoptive families.
According to the most recently published data, as of 30 September 2020:
- There were 2,030 children with a placement order who were waiting for an adoptive family – 1,050 of whom had been in care for 18 months or more
- Of the 2,030 children waiting, 1,320 of them were aged 5 or over, had a disability, were from a Black or minority ethnic background, or had siblings – that’s 65%, or a large majority, of all children waiting to be adopted
- Of those 1,320 children, 800 of them had been in care for 18 months or longer
In other words, the majority of children waiting to be adopted have been waiting for far too long.
Furthermore, 2 out of every 5 children waiting for an adoptive family has both been in care for 18 months or more, and also has at least one specific placement need. They are either ‘too old’, or need to be placed with their siblings, or have a disability, or come from a diverse background and need adopters who can embrace, celebrate, and support their heritage.
VAAs are now asking, “These children are waiting – why are you?”
VAAs have a wealth of experience in adoption and offer friendly, outstanding services to support potential adopters through the adoption process and beyond. You can read more here about why you should consider adopting through a VAA.
If you have considered adoption, we ask you to consider this group of children and how they too deserve a family they can call their own.
Join us on social media and spread the word! #AdopterChoice #VoluntaryAdoptionAgencies #ChildrenWhoWait #YouCanAdopt
- Adoption Focus – Birmingham, the West Midlands, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire and neighbouring counties
- Adoption Matters – North of England, parts of Wales, Stoke, Stafford, Shropshire and the Isle of Man
- ARC Adoption NE – North East
- Birmingham Children’s Trust – Birmingham and surrounding areas (up to 60 miles)
- Caritas Care – North West including Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Cumbria and parts of Yorkshire, as well as parts of Scotland including the Dumfries area
- Coram – London and East Midlands
- Families for Children – the South West of England including Devon, Dorset, Cornwall & Somerset
- Intercountry Adoption Centre – all of England
- PACT – London and the South East
- SSAFA – all of England
- St Francis’ Children’s Society – Milton Keynes and surrounding areas (up to 50 miles), including Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Hertfordshire, and parts of Cambridgeshire and East Anglia
- St Margaret’s Children and Family Care Society – all of Scotland
- Yorkshire Adoption Agency – Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Humberside, most of Lincolnshire and some areas in Manchester
What does the data tell us about the impact of Covid-19 on adoption?
On 15 January, the Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board published the first data on adoption during the Covid-19 pandemic. Well explore some of what the data tells us, and consider what to look for in the data going forward.
On 15 January, the Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board published the first data on adoption during the Covid-19 pandemic (downloadable here). The data, which covers 1 April to 30 September 2020, confirmed a number of trends that were both reflected in prior data publications and also relayed to CVAA anecdotally by our members. In this post, we’ll explore some of what the data tells us, and consider what to look for in the data going forward.
There continues to be a decline in the children being considered for adoption. This is translating to fewer children matched and placed, and there has been a sharp decrease in placement orders and adoption orders.
As expected, there has been a continued decline in decisions for adoption (also known as ADMs) and placement orders in the first two quarters of 2020/21. This trend has been evident since at least 2017/18, with adoption being considered for fewer children each year. While fewer children were matched and placed in the first six months of this year than in previous years, those declines haven’t been quite as sharp as the drop in placement orders and adoption orders, which may speak to increased delays in the courts alongside creative practice within agencies to keep plans and children moving.
- There were 1,740 ADM decision, a decrease of 17% (350n) from Q1-2 2019/20
- 1,180 POs were granted, a decrease of 32% (550n) from Q1-2 2019/20
- There were 1,500 children matched with an adoptive family, a decrease of 12% (200n) from Q1-2 2019/20
- 1,490 children were placed with an adoptive family, a decrease of 14% (250n) from Q1-2 2019/20
- There were 1,110 AOs granted, a decrease of 37% (660n) from Q1-2 2019/20
Over the next 6-12 months, we will want to keep an eye on whether the number of placement orders and adoption orders increases from this new low, which is what we would expect if these 30+% declines have been caused by pandemic-induced court delays.
For the moment, however, these sharp drops beg the question – where are these children? The drop in ADM decisions over this six-month period (-17%) is about half of the drop in placement orders (-32%) and adoption orders (-37%). Are children lingering in foster placements as they wait for placement orders to be granted? Are children who are already in their adoptive placements waiting much longer than usual for adoption hearings? This is the kind of analysis that we would like to see from the ASGLB.
We can see that the number of children leaving care under Special Guardianship Orders has held steady.
There were 2,000 SGOs granted in the first two quarters of the year, accounting for 48% of the total for 2019/20. In other words, almost the same number of SGOs were made during this six-month period in 2019 and 2020.
This is interesting given the sharp drop in placement and adoption orders, and merits further exploration. It may be that a similar number of children had a plan for special guardianship and the courts have given these hearings more attention than adoption – or, perhaps more likely, it may be that a higher number of children than in previous years have a plan for special guardianship, but pandemic-related delays in the courts have only allowed a fraction of those hearings to be completed. The latter is more likely because SGOs have been increasing every year since 2017/18, and we would expect to see that trend continue in 2020/21.
With both placement/adoption orders and SGOs, we may see an increase in hearings being completed over the next 12-18 months as pandemic- and workload-related delays in the courts work through – and this might indicate that the pandemic introduced egregiously long delays for far too many children.
Fewer children are waiting to be matched, but those who are waiting have been waiting longer.
We are heartened to see that the number of children waiting with a placement order but not yet matched (often referred to as ‘children waiting’, for brevity) continues to decline. However, the total number of children waiting longer than 18 months since entering care has surpassed the number of children waiting fewer than 18 months. The children who wait the longest are increasingly lingering in the system.
Average waiting times also continue to increase, and have done since around March 2017. Although fewer children are waiting, those who wait are waiting much longer.
- There were 2,030 children with a PO waiting to be matched at the end of Q2, a decrease of 24% (630n) from Q2 2019/20
- 1,050 children with a PO had been waiting 18+ months since entering care at the end of Q2, a decrease of 5% (60n) from Q2 2019/20
- 52% of children with a PO have been waiting to be matched 18+ months at the end of Q2, an increase of 10% from Q2 2019/20
- The average number of days spent waiting to be placed with a PO since entering care was 647 days at the end of Q2, an increase of 77 days from Q2 2019/20 and an increase of 35 days from Q4 2019/20
While RAAs seem to be achieving timelier placements for a growing number of children, the increase in waiting times for children who have already waited far too long tells us that the system as it currently exists is not meeting these children’s needs. It should be the urgent priority of all those working in adoption to change the approach for the children who wait the longest.
Children with ‘harder to place’ characteristics are still overrepresented amongst children who wait the longest.
Describing children as ‘harder to place’ is unhelpful in its implication that somehow this is down to the child, rather than a failure of the system to find them a family. However, ASGLB data uses the phrase ‘children with “harder to place” characteristics”, which means: aged 5 or older, part of a sibling group, with a disability, and/or Black, Asian, or minority ethnic.
The proportion of children with ‘harder to place’ characteristics who are waiting for adoptive families continues to grow. Not only do these children make up an increasing cohort of all children waiting, but they are also overrepresented amongst children who have been waiting 18 months or more. We can see below that the overall number of children waiting with ‘harder to place’ characteristics has decreased in recent years, but the proportion of these children who wait the longest has increased every year since 2017/18.
- There were 1,320 children with ‘harder to place’ characteristics waiting at the end of Q2 2020/21, making up 65% of all children waiting.
- 800 children with ‘harder to place’ characteristics had been waiting 18+ months at the end of Q2 2020/21, making up 76% of all children waiting 18+ months
Adopter recruitment increased during the first six months of the pandemic.
After an initial few weeks of anxiety at the start of the pandemic, we began to hear from VAAs that more people than ever were enquiring about becoming adoptive parents. Agencies felt that the pandemic was giving people time and cause to reflect on their fundamental values, and that many people were resolving to take action on big dreams that they might have been putting off.
This anecdotal intelligence has been borne out in the data: VAAs registered and approved more adopters in the first half of 2020 than in the same time period in each of the previous three years!
Across voluntary and statutory agencies, there has been a large increase in the number of prospective adopters currently going through the approval process. We hope to see this translate to not only an ongoing decrease in the number of children waiting over the next 12-18 months, but specifically a drop in the number of children waiting longer than 18 months and the number of children waiting with ‘harder to place’ characteristics. A numerical increase in adoptive families is sure to benefit some children, but we will have to wait and see whether the adopters currently going through the process are the right people to meet the needs of the children waiting the longest.
- There were 2,330 registrations of interest across the adoption system, an increase of 19% (370n) from Q2 2019/20
- 1,450 adoptive families were approved, an increase of 1% (10n) from Q2 2019/20
- There were 3,110 prospective adoptive families not yet approved at the end of Q2, an increase of 20% (520n) from Q2 2019/20
It undoubtedly benefits children for there to be choice in the system, with many different families available to meet children’s needs. However, the continued decline in children with a plan for adoption, combined with the dramatic increase in adopters coming forward, will need to be considered carefully by individual agencies as well as by the National Adopter Recruitment Steering Group.
What does CVAA hope to see from the Care Review?
Following the long-awaited announcement of a Care Review for England, we reflect on our priorities for adopted children, young people, adults, and adoptive parents.
On Friday, 15 January, Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson launched the Care Review. This was promised in the Conservatives’ 2019 election manifesto and has long been awaited by the children’s social care sector in England. The scope of the review, at least for the moment, is encouragingly broad, and promises to “take a fundamental look at the needs, experiences and outcomes of the children [the care system] supports, and what is needed to make a real difference.”
The review will be led by Josh MacAlister, a former schoolteacher who founded Frontline, the fast-track training programme for social workers that was modelled on Teach First, in 2013. While CVAA acknowledges the range of opinions on the leadership of the review, we are committed to working closely with Josh and the Experts by Experience group that he will be setting up. (If you or anyone you know is interested in applying, you can do so via this form before 5pm on Friday 5 February. You can also find out more here before applying). Collaboration and partnership are at the heart of all that we do, and we will make sure that VAAs, adopted children/young people/adults, and adoptive parents are all represented in our contribution to the review.
Our mission and vision will frame CVAA’s priorities and how we want to see those priorities reflected in the work of the Care Review:
Our vision is for adopted children, young people and adults to lead happy fulfilling lives in loving families supported by a strong voluntary adoption sector.
Our mission is to achieve excellence in the adoption system through harnessing the collective expertise, commitment and innovation of the voluntary adoption sector, working together for children, families and adopted adults.
Our priorities for the review therefore include:
- Planning and timeliness. History tells us that there will always be a small cohort of children who cannot safely grow up in their birth families. Local authorities must identify these children right from the start – and, where adoption is the best choice to provide a child with permanency and good long-term outcomes, LAs should do everything within their power to move children quickly through the care system and into their adoptive families.
- Lifelong identity. Adoption in the 21st century must take account of the things that we know support the development of a positive, resilient, and lifelong sense of identity. A range of options, including enhanced and ongoing training for adopters, therapeutic life story work, and support for birth family relationships, including contact with birth parents and with people who are not parents (grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, former foster carers, etc.), can and should all be explored on a case-by-case basis for each child, and should be reassessed as children grow and their needs and views change.
- The right support at the right time. It is well-documented that early intervention can prevent later crisis. Too many adoptive families continue to find themselves in crisis, and a decade of funding cuts has seen the entire spectrum of support, from holistic, universal services to specialist CAMHS, whittled away. Services that support adoptive families must not only be funded properly, but available when (or even before) families need them. Bureaucratic hurdles must be reduced, and all families must have timely and straightforward access to support that will enable them to thrive.
We also hope that the Care Review will pick up on areas of poor provision. For example, there is a statutory duty to provide independent support to birth parents whose children are in the process of being adopted, but our members tell us that this support is patchy at best – and when it comes to parents whose children were adopted in the past, support is practically non-existent.
The review would be deeply remiss if it did not look to Scotland for inspiration. From 2017-2020, Scotland’s Independent Care Review spoke to over 5,500 care-experienced children and adults, families, and the paid and unpaid workforce who make up ‘the care system’. At the end of this process, the Care Review published a number of reports on how to make sure Scotland’s most vulnerable children feel loved and have the childhood they deserve; how this should happen; how to change current legislation; and how to invest in these systemic changes. The Scottish review put the focus on nurturing relationships and emphasised that children may survive when they can live without harm, but they thrive when they are loved.
If the Care Review is to usher in an era of much-needed change for children, it must put at its heart the voices of those with lived experience of the system – children in care, adults who have left care, adopted people, foster carers, birth parents… There are no doubt many people with experience of children’s social care who are keen to contribute, and as the Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies, our top priority will be to make contributing to the review accessible to adopted children, adoptive parents, and those who work in the voluntary adoption sector. We are committed to maximising this opportunity for change on behalf of all adopted children, young people, adults, and their families.
VAAs look forward to finding more homes for children in 2021
VAAs are heading into 2021 with extensive experience of operating during the Covid-19 pandemic. Find out how to start your adoption journey with a VAA - even during lockdown.
The start of the new year always feels like a good time for fresh beginnings – a time to set goals, make plans, and look ahead to the future. It may feel a bit more difficult than in ‘normal’ years to get excited about the coming year, but if you have ever considered adopting, this may be the year for you – and voluntary adoption agencies are here to guide and support you every step of the way.
Critically, the pandemic has not changed the fact that thousands of children are waiting to be adopted from care in the UK. As of 30 September 2020, there were over 2,000 children in care who had been granted a placement order by the courts, but had not yet been adopted. A large part of our members’ vital work is finding families for these children, all of whom have had very difficult starts in life.
You may be surprised to hear that VAAs experienced record numbers of adoption enquiries last year. Some agencies fielded almost twice as many calls during the pandemic as they did in 2019! Many of our members have told us that they think the pandemic has given many people a push to reflect on their core values and the things that they want out of life – with many realising that there is no time like the present to find out more about adoption. All of our member agencies are open and accepting enquiries – some by phone, others by email or through their website. To find your nearest VAA, have a look at our handy agency-finder map.
When it comes to the adoption process, much of what we wrote about in the first weeks of the pandemic is still true:
- VAAs are using Zoom and Microsoft Teams (as well as the good old-fashioned telephone) to undertake ‘home’ visits, deliver training, and connect you with other prospective adopters. We have heard about amazing WhatsApp groups in which prospective adopters who are going through training at the same time can connect and support one another, and organisations such as Adoption UK are also connecting adopters across the country.
- Approval and matching panels are happening remotely, which means they can be much more frequent and you don’t have to travel! Each agency will have its own processes for this, and our members tell us that their adopters have really loved the flexibility of virtual panels.
- Agencies have now had a lot of experience in delivering virtual adoption support, and are constantly coming up with new ways to make sure adopted children and their families are getting the support they need. From virtual coffee mornings to one-to-one sessions to webinars to packs of toys sent in the post, VAAs are there for families at every step of the journey.
Worrying About Birth Family
In this featured blog post, one of Scottish Adoption's 'Quaran'-Teen Ambassadors reflects on their relationship with their birth mother and worries that have been heightened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Our thanks for this blog post go to Scottish Adoption’s Teen Ambassadors (temporarily known as the ‘Quaran’-Teen Ambassadors!). The Teen Ambassadors help Scottish Adoption, a voluntary adoption agency based in Edinburgh, create new families by giving input at every Scottish Adoption preparation group. They also use their experiences and represent the views of other young people from our teen group to help train and educate other professionals.
- A platform for adopted teenagers to tell their stories.
- A place for adopted teenagers to connect with other relevant services.
- A space to educate others, change practice and reduce stereotypes on adoption.
- An online support service where adopted teenagers can submit a worry or question and receive a confidential response from a Teen Ambassador.
Follow @teentalkadoption if you are a adopted teenager who wants to join the community.
Follow @teentalkadoption if you’re a adoptive parent or professional who wants to learn about the views and experiences of adopted children.
Direct Message Scottish Adoption or use the contact form on their website to submit your problem, questions, story/blog or thoughts.
Scottish Adoption understand that some adopted young people would like to keep their adoption identity confidential. If this is the case, you or your parent can read our blogs here, or just take a peek at the Teen Talk Instagram page now and then.
If you do decide to follow Teen Talk, we would always encourage you to practice good internet safety by:
- Never using your name or correct date of birth.
- Using a photo that is non-identifiable.
- ALWAYS keep your page locked.
If you would like more information about Scottish Adoption’s Teen Ambassador Programme or @teentalkadoption, please contact the Children’s Worker Melanie Thomson by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0131 553 5060.
This blog post, below, was first published on Scottish Adoption’s website.
During the coronavirus outbreak, many of us adopted teens might be feeling worried about our birth families and stressing about if they are okay. Just the other day, I received a message from my birth mother. At first I was happy, as it conveyed sentiments towards my well-being. This made me feel happy, but then I remembered what happened last time we had contact and my feelings started to change.
Around 2 years ago, I found my birth mother on social media and at first, I believed it was a glorious victory to have found her by myself. However this was very short lived, as it wasn’t long before things started to go sour. After a couple of days, I found she didn’t have the ability to manage our relationship. Things got even worse when she began blackmailing me into moving close to her and taking care of her. I was 15 years old and about to sit my exams. None of this was remotely possible.
When this happened two years ago, I used the supports I had around me. I spoke to the staff at Scottish Adoption and I spoke to the other teens at the Scottish Adoption Teen Group. With this support, I decided to end the contact with my birth-mother to protect my self.
If any of you readers have either been in this situation or a similar one; my advice to you would be to do as I did, which is tell someone. Telling someone is better than keeping inside of you, because when you don’t tell someone how you’re feeling, it grows and grows.
If you or any other adopted teenager you know might be struggling right now, tell them about Teen Talk. Teen Talk is free online support service where adopted teens help other adopted teens make sense of their thoughts, feelings and worries, share this link with them www.scottishadoption.org/teentalk
National Adoption Week 2020: Finding families for children who wait the longest
At a time when national statistics reveal that Black and mixed-heritage children are disproportionately represented in the care system and that they wait longer to be adopted, this year's National Adoption Week campaign is focusing on the need to find potential parents who can provide a loving and secure home for these children.
Our thanks go to CVAA member PACT, a voluntary adoption agency with offices in Reading, Brighton, and London, for today’s blog post. This post was originally published on PACT’s website.
At a time when national statistics reveal that black and mixed-heritage children are disproportionately represented in the care system and that they wait longer to be adopted, this year’s National Adoption Week campaign is focusing on the need to find potential parents who can provide a loving and secure home for these children.
While black and mixed ethnic groups make up 5.5% of the general population, 17% of the children waiting for adoption are from black and mixed ethnic groups**. Black children are also less likely to go on to be adopted and wait longer to find their adoptive families.
All children waiting for adoption are likely to experience delay and instability but BME children also have to confront the issue of identity – their ethnicity, their culture and maybe their language. This can impact on their personal relationships, their education and their future as a parent themselves.
PACT is looking for more adopters from all walks of life and is particularly keen to hear from people of Black Caribbean, African or mixed heritage to enable children to be matched with adopters who they can identify with culturally, visually and emotionally.
Meet three couples who adopted through the adoption charity Parents And Children Together (PACT) which assesses and approves adoptive parents in London and the south east.
Emma and Fahmi are a mixed race couple with a birth child. Their first daughter, Aliya*, was born a year into their relationship and 15 years later they adopted their second child, Samir*, when he was 15 months old.
When they had trouble conceiving, it was discovered that Emma suffered from second child infertility. They tried some different fertility treatments but none were successful. Emma found the whole thing physically and emotionally draining. When the last treatment failed, she felt hopeless.
She said: “Aliya was only 12 at the time and I remember her being so matter of fact about it. She said: ‘Don’t worry mum, there is always adoption to look at’, and that is where our journey really began.”
They spoke about adoption as a family and decided they wanted to adopt a dual heritage baby.
After Samir came to live with them, Aliya mentioned to a relative that she loved finally having someone in the family who looked like her.
Emma said: “This comment has stayed with us. We had never thought of her feeling so different but when we thought about it, all her family members were either white or black. It was lovely for her to feel that she had someone else the same as her and I think this has made her bond with her little brother that much stronger.”
Eddie and Jody are an interracial, same sex couple who adopted two brothers aged 20 months and 10 months old.
Eddie said: ‘It was always important for me that the children I adopted saw themselves reflected in us, their parents. The fact that the boys’ father and my father are from the same tribe in Nigeria created an instant connection. It means we can honour their heritage and promote it authentically, which ultimately enhances their sense of identity.’
Ruth, of Trinidadian descent, and her husband, who is white British, adopted their daughter when she was 14months old. Ruth and her husband decided to adopt after an unsuccessful IVF journey.
Ruth said: “We got to a point where we couldn’t do it anymore. It really took its toll on our health and finances.”
After several rounds of unsuccessful treatment, they decided to adopt. Ruth said: “For us it was important to adopt a child that matched our own racial heritage based on the fact that we want to be able to identify, relate and empathise with them.
“We also believe it will be easier and more comfortable for our daughter as she gets older and learns more about her history. There were a lot of mixed race children in the system, so for us it was the right thing to do.
“The first moment she called me mummy, I knew it was going to plan. I was her mum and this was our family. It’s the best thing we ever done, our family is complete.”
PACT welcomes enquiries about adoption from people from all backgrounds and of all ethnicities. For more information, to download a guide to adoption, or attend an online information event see www.pactcharity.org or call 0300 456 4800.
*Names have been changed to protect identity
CVAA announces new Chair of Trustees, Andrew Webb
Andrew Webb, previously DCS in Stockport and Chair of Research in Practice, and current Nuffield Family Justice Observatory Board member, has begun his tenure as Independent Chair of CVAA.
In National Adoption Week, we are pleased to announce the appointment of Andrew Webb as the new Independent Chair of the Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies (CVAA). Andrew took up the post at CVAA’s Annual General Meeting on 17 September. He takes over from Ray Shostak, CBE, who served as Chair of Trustees of CVAA from 2014 to 2020.
Andrew’s passion for improving outcomes for the most vulnerable children extends to both policy and practice, and has remained undimmed since he first began his career in social work in 1976. He spent his working life in local authorities and was Director of Children’s and Adults’ Services in Stockport before retiring in 2018.
Andrew has subsequently provided independent consultancy to a number of children’s services organisations, including local authorities and multi-agency partnerships. Andrew was President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services from 2012 to 2013 and chaired the Research in Practice partnership board for 10 years. Since retirement, Andrew has remained active in the permanence and family justice system and is a Board member of the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory.
“I am honoured to have been appointed to the Board of CVAA, and just hope I can pick up successfully where the outgoing chair, Ray Shostak, left off.
“Adoption is at a crossroads: we know how successful it can be in offering permanence to children who have had the most challenging start in life, yet the numbers children whose care plan recommends it continues to fall. We are also developing our understanding of the need to support an adopted child’s sense of identity through an appreciation of their full family history – which doesn’t fit well with a traditional approach to contact in adoption. And the range and ongoing nature of support needed by adopters and special guardians has never been clearer.
“A vital part of CVAA’s future work will be to develop proposals, in partnership with Government and others, to reimagine adoption for the 21st Century. I am really looking forward to helping develop this thinking, building on the outstanding work that is the ‘day job’ of voluntary adoption agencies – recruiting and training adopters, making and supporting placements, and keeping the debate about permanence alive in the minds of the public and policymakers.”
Black Lives Matter: Our pledge to tackle racism
CVAA is committed to anti-racism, including building an adoption system which recognises the intrinsic worth of every child, family member and colleague, and the validity of their experience.
As a membership body seeking to promote excellence in the adoption system, CVAA strives to uphold anti-racist values. The long-term sustained impact of institutionalised racism has sadly been entrenched in our society for many years, but the more recent realities of racism have been highlighted by the appalling death of George Floyd, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities. This confronts us all with the reality of how much needs to change to achieve true social justice in the UK. We believe we all need to take action now to tackle the systemic inequalities across society which affect the lives of so many of our fellow citizens facing racism and discrimination.
Our specific remit is within the adoption sector and we know from data that inequalities are also evident in the adoption system, with Black and minority ethnic children and adopters waiting longer for matching, and a workforce which does not represent the full diversity of the communities with which we work. VAAs have a long and successful history of finding families for children from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds and are fully committed to anti-discriminatory practice. However, Black Lives Matter has caused us to pause and reflect and challenge ourselves to do more; to listen, learn and take action, acknowledging our individual and collective responsibility to tackle racism and discrimination wherever we find it.
VAAs are committed to building an adoption system which recognises the intrinsic worth of every child, family member and colleague, and the validity of their experience. We will work to ensure these values are translated into action to give all minority ethnic communities confidence in the respect, care and consideration they will receive from VAAs, to recognise the impact of racism on their lives and the validity of all the experiences and emotions they bring to adoption.
We will take the opportunity Black Lives Matter gives us to work with others across the adoption system and beyond to tackle assumptions, bias and prejudice, celebrating and respecting the contributions that people from many different values, beliefs and ethnic backgrounds can contribute to a more open, equal and inclusive adoption service.
We pledge to work together with VAAs across the UK to:
- Regularly review the data on the adoption of Black, Asian and minority ethnic children, and the recruitment and support of adopters for those children, sharing this data to take joint action to improve waiting times and services.
- Support the VAA workforce, increase our understanding of the impact of discrimination and address the lack of diversity in both the leadership and wider workforce so that adopters of all ethnicities can see their experiences reflected in those who support them through their adoption journey.
- Celebrate the success of Black and minority ethnic adoptions and learn from the experience of birth families, children, young people and adopters to improve services and support.
- Work with all Governments of the UK, the National Adopter Recruitment Campaign, Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board, Regional Adoption Agencies, Local Government, the National Adoption Service Wales and other partners to promote, support and deliver anti-discriminatory action across the adoption system, challenging racism and working for true equality.
The CVAA Board and staff team affirm our total commitment to anti-racist practice and agree the following actions to challenge ourselves and support CVAA members in their work to find forever homes for the children of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds who need them. We recognise these actions are small steps which need to be built on over time to create the equal and just society all adopted children and young people deserve.
- To review and amend the CVAA equality, diversity and inclusion polices to ensure they remain relevant and provide the right organisational challenge and protections for all who work for and with CVAA.
- To extend training on anti-racist and anti-discriminatory practice, unconscious bias and good practice in adoption support for Black and minority ethnic families through the CVAA Practice Programme.
- To work across the membership to improve the recruitment, support and advancement of Black and minority ethnic staff.
- To work with our sector to set, monitor and regularly report on the targets and actions we and the membership have taken and the plans we have for future action to eradicate racism and discrimination.
#KinshipCareWeek 2020: Celebrating the kinship community
#KinshipCareWeek runs from 5-11 October this year, and is a chance for every #ProudKinshipCarer and #ProudKinshipFamily to share their experiences, raise awareness, and celebrate what they do for their children.
What is kinship care?
Kinship care often begins with a family crisis, with a child whose parents are no longer able to care for them. When a loved one steps in – a grandparent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle or family friend – they become a kinship carer, bringing up the children they love.
Kinship families in the UK are raising over 200,000 children. Kinship care can be life-changing and challenging. Plans are pushed aside. Relationships, jobs and savings are sacrificed. Yet kinship carers do it without a thought for themselves because they put children first.
Kinship Care Week increases understanding and recognition of the role of kinship carers and the challenges they often face, but importantly, it’s also an opportunity to thank kinship carers for the incredible job they do raising children.
You can read more about the experiences of kinship and family carers in this State of the Nation 2019 report from Grandparents Plus and these reports from Family Rights Group.
We’re ready for Kinship Care Week!
This year, we’re celebrating Kinship Care Week online. Grandparents Plus – the kinshp care charity – are asking kinship families to share selfies, pictures of their families, and stories about what makes them a #ProudKinshipCarer or part of a #ProudKinshipFamily.
Kinship carers and people who work with kinship carers can follow the hashtag #KinshipCareWeek and share their stories and images online.
You can see what Grandparents Plus is doing to celebrate #KinshipCareWeek here.