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Event Tag: contact

Modernising Post-adoption Letterbox Contact: Digital Technology and the Culture Change in Adoption

Who this is for

Adoption practitioners and managers (Voluntary Adoption Agencies, Regional Adoption Agencies, Local Authorities, and independent social workers), children’s social care services, children and family social workers, foster carers, kinship carers, designated teachers, and other professionals working with children and families.


Details

This expert-led training session will assist social workers and management with exploring the possibilities of digital tools when considering adopted or care-experienced children’s plans to stay in touch (contact) with their birth relatives or those important to them.

The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory published a report based on their ‘adoption connections’ project (Barnett-Jones & Manning, 2021). This project involved consultation with over 80 people and organisations with a focus on modernising mediated post-adoption contact. The project explored how digital solutions might address some of the known difficulties of letterbox contact, identifying potential benefits and drawbacks of a digital system. In addition, it highlighted: the need for any such system to consider children’s rights to both contact and online safety; data security; interoperability (for example how families’ data could be moved between different platforms); and financial viability.

Moderninsing adoption is part of Adoption England’s strategy. In 2022 from the report published by the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory a project was commissioned to trial a digital system. The system was Letter Swap created by Link Maker and the University of East Anglia were academic partners producing an evaluation of the findings. There are also other products in the market, such as, Arc box and Charms.

Using digital tools to support plans for children to remain connected to their birth identity is a much-needed innovative step to explore, given the issues with the traditional ‘letterbox’ system. Many indirect exchanges do not get started, lapse with no review, offers a lack of diversity of information that can be sent and has no feedback loop’- has my letter been received?

Safe and meaningful connections are vital to adopted and care experienced people as they grow, and reach independence and beyond. Some of the risks of not maintaining these connections are-

  • Identity struggles and concept of self
  • Unanswered questions
  • Access to birth heritage, culture, and religion
  • Known medical history
  • Lost sibling connections
  • Emotional difficulties in major life events

In this bespoke training event, we will look at the origins of digital connections, the outcomes of the Letter Swap pilot, and how a culture of modern adoption can support connections for adopted and care experienced people. We will also hear from providers of systems available.


Learning 0utcomes

  • Explore the lifelong needs of adopted and care-experienced people and how a digital system may support staying in touch.
  • Consider a digital approach to planning staying in touch (contact) for adopted and care experienced children and young people.
  • Identify culture and practice changes when using digital approaches to support children and young people’s plans to stay in touch.
  • Consider the positives and negatives of a digital system.
  • Consider the support needs of birth relatives, adoptive parents and adopted / care experienced people when using a digital system.
  • Explore if digital systems can be used as a bridge to meeting up (direct contact)

About the trainers

Dr. Beverley Barnett Jones MBE

Beverley Barnett‑Jones is Associate Director for System and Impact at the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory. She is a registered social worker with a career spanning over 25 years in local authority and other statutory children’s and family services, having switched career planning from lawyer to young person’s counsellor before training as a social worker. She holds an LLB honours Law Degree and a Master’s in social Science. Beverley has been committed for many years to improving the help and support offered to children, their families, and their wider community. She has promoted the use of evidence and research to inform practice and service design. Beverley was awarded an MBE in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours List in recognition of her management of frontline services for children and families.

Vicky Swift

Vicky is a qualified social worker who joined the Adoption England national team in June 2022. Vicky is skilled in working with vulnerable children and families and is committed to promoting the experiences and voices of birth families and relationships important to children pre adoption. Vicky leads on the maintaining relationship workstream, focused on finding ways for adopted children to have safe and meaningful relationships with the people who were important to them pre adoption. Vicky is passionate about exploring new ways of modernising adoption and the way that adopted people maintain links and connections to their birth identity. She works on several projects with adoption agencies and partners looking at improving services for birth relatives and also adopted people’s experiences of accessing their records and post adoption support. Vicky says- “I really feel passionate about listening to the voices of people who experience services to drive forward the change we hope to achieve.”


Instructions

A member of staff will be in touch with attendees one week prior to the event to share a pre-event delegate pack.

If you have any questions regarding this webinar, please contact us at info@cvaa.org.uk. We will aim to answer your query within two working days.

CVAA accept online payments only. In case you do not have instant access to your company card, we suggest using your personal card instead to book a training event and claim it back with your agency in your expenses. Requesting an invoice to pay for our standard practice events is not possible.

Good Practice Guides and Post Adoption Contact: Practice Implications and Reflections for Adoption Professionals

Who this is for

Adoption practitioners and managers (Voluntary Adoption Agencies, Regional Adoption Agencies, Local Authorities, and independent social workers), children’s social care services, children and family social workers, foster carers, kinship carers, designated teachers, and other professionals working with children and families.


Details

In 2019, as part of the ongoing development of services and practice across the sector, AFKA Cymru was commissioned by the National Adoption Service for Wales to develop 4 new Good Practice Guides in key areas – Contact; Transitions and Early Support; Working with Birth parents; and Adoption Support.

All the guides are intrinsically linked and capture good practice examples across Wales as well as up to date research and evidence based approaches from across the UK,  helping bring adoption up to date and ensuring a system that is fit for purpose – that acknowledges complexities and challenges, and respects children’s multiple relationships and identities.

A trauma informed approach, that helps us understand the impact of early trauma and to identify immediate and predicted needs of families, is at the heart of the guides and practice applications that have been developed.

The importance of relationships is a major theme: how we develop trusting relationships, how we see and appreciate other perspectives and how this helps the adults involved to remain child focused.

In this practice session, we will provide an overview of the key principles of each Good Practice Guide and discussing practice implications. We will be specifically considering the key principles of staying connected with people who are important to the child, how we keep doors open as much as we possibly can, and how we think about “contact” across all our work much more in terms of relationships, family, loss and identity.

To help us think about some of the challenges involved in staying connected, we will be considering relevant case studies and taking opportunities to learn with colleagues about positive approaches.


Learning outcomes

  • Explore common principles of the 4 NAS Good Practice Guides
  • Consider key principles of each guide and implications for practice
  • Acknowledge the significance of continuity in relationships for children, and the challenges of staying connected with people who are important across a lifetime
  • Use case examples and peer discussion to think about what is going well and how practice can be further developed.

About the trainers

Helen Hawksworth and Sarah Coldrick

Helen is a qualified social worker and Trainer Consultant with AFKA Cymru, and works closely with the National Adoption Service in Wales. She has worked in a range of settings within Local Authority Children’s Services from 1995 including Child Protection, Youth Justice, Residential Care, Fostering, Child Health and Disability, and Adoption before joining St David’s Children Society in 2011 and then AFKA in 2018.

Sarah was legal consultant for BAAF Cymru and now AFKA Cymru since 2009.  Prior to this she was a local authority solicitor and before that worked with children in inner London. Sarah works across the permanency sector within AFKA, providing advice to colleagues and on the advice line as well as working on projects for NAS and Welsh Government. Sarah is an adoptive parent of three daughters and also has some fostering experience.


Instructions

A member of staff will be in touch with attendees one week prior to the event to share a pre-event delegate pack. If you have any questions regarding this webinar, please contact us at info@cvaa.org.uk. We will aim to answer your query within two working days.

CVAA accept online payments only. In case you do not have instant access to your company card, we suggest using your personal card instead to book a training event and claim it back with your agency in your expenses. Requesting an invoice to pay for our standard practice events is not possible.

Direct Keeping in Touch with Adopted Child’s Birth Family as an Expectation in Modern Adoption

Who this is for

Adoption practitioners and managers (Voluntary Adoption Agencies, Regional Adoption Agencies, Local Authorities, and independent social workers), children’s social care services, children and family social workers, foster carers, kinship carers, designated teachers, and other professionals working with children and families.


Details

This training session is designed by CVAA and senior adoption practitioners at Adopt East service to help you explore with peers the key themes and challenges involved in direct contact between a child and their birth family.

Direct communication and maintaining contact with a child’s birth family has become an expectation in modern adoptions. This practice, also known as open adoption, allows for the child to have a connection with their biological family and the opportunity to know their history and cultural heritage. Direct contact also promotes ongoing communication between the adoptive family and birth family, which helps to build a relationship between the two families and allows the birth family to be a part of the child’s life in a meaningful way.

Having open lines of communication with a birth family can provide a sense of security and comfort for the adopted child, especially as they grow up and may have questions about their identity.

This training is an opportunity to explore with your peers the preparation, assessment, challenges and successes around direct contact within Adoption. You will be able to network with practitioners from other agencies, share best practice and glean new ideas.


Learning 0utcomes

  • Experiences of Adopt East alongside participating agencies, the impact of these and how organisations can address these
  • Key findings within research on contact
  • What organisations can do to adapt approaches to contact
  • Look at the future of direct contact

About the trainers

Pam Whittaker, Ann French and Shona Lawson

Pam Whittaker is the Executive Head of Adopt East which is an alliance of 8 Local Authorities in the East of England.  Pam has been a qualified social worker for over 25 years, 14 of which have been in the adoption arena.

Ann French is the Early Permanence Team Manager who has a lead for modernizing adoption.  Ann has worked in Social Care for 30 years with the last 7 years in adoption.

Shona Lawson is the Adoption Support Co-Ordinator for Adopt East.  Shona is a qualified social worker with over 25 years of experience with children and their families.  Shona has worked in Adoption for 14 years.


Instructions

A member of staff will be in touch with attendees one week prior to the event to share a pre-event delegate pack.

If you have any questions regarding this webinar, please contact us at info@cvaa.org.uk. We will aim to answer your query within two working days.

CVAA accept online payments only. In case you do not have instant access to your company card, we suggest using your personal card instead to book a training event and claim it back with your agency in your expenses. Requesting an invoice to pay for our standard practice events is not possible.

Staying Connected: Hearing Children’s Experiences on Contact Arrangements and Improving our Practice

Who this is for

Adoption practitioners and managers (Voluntary Adoption Agencies, Regional Adoption Agencies, Local Authorities, and independent social workers), children’s social care services, children and family social workers, foster carers, kinship carers, designated teachers, and other professionals working with children and families.


Details

This timely evidence seminar will explore the latest research from the Bright Spots Programme (Shirley Lewis, Julie Selwyn and Linda Briheim-Crookall) on looked after children and young people’s feelings about contact and spending time with their biological family’s.

Linda Briheim-Crookall, Head of Policy and practice development at Coram Voice will share findings from the Staying Connected report by Coram Voice and the Rees Centre at the University of Oxford.

Linda Briheim-Crookall, Head of Policy and Practice Development at Coram Voice, said: “The recent Care Review suggested the primary objective of the care system should be promoting the formation of lifelong loving relationships around children in care and care leavers. This can only be achieved if more is done to build rather than break relationships with the people who are already important to children in care. Our research showed that there is still some way to go to make this happen.”

The report draws on the views of over 7,000 children in care about staying connected with family and the people that is important to them. This report was published in 2022. As part of the session, we will discuss the direct relationship between well-being and staying connected with family for adopted children, explore children and young people’s views and experiences and hear their experiences in their own words.

Together with senior practitioners at Coram Ambitious for Adoption, we will aim to bring the report to adoption practice. We will identify key themes and we will reflect on this important topic and what the findings mean to adoption professionals in their practice as well as within the service at large.


Learning 0utcomes

  • An understanding on the views of children in care to maintain relationships with their birth relatives
  • Professional reflections on current practice
  • How the lived experience can inform and improve adoption practice
  • In-dept discussion with the leading researchers

About the trainers

Linda Briheim-Crookall and Sarah Taylor

Linda manages the Policy and Practice Development team at Coram Voice. Linda leads on the programmes that make care better by listening to, and directly involving, care experienced children and young people. Coram Voice’s projects include Bright Spots, New Belongings, Voices, A National Voice as well as peer research. Linda says that the best thing about her role is helping others to see children in care and care leavers as experts in their own experience who make care better when they are given a voice and opportunities to inform it.

Sarah has been a Social worker of 30 years and currently works in the Slough Post Adoption Team.  It is through this role that Sarah has become involved in supporting adopters and birth family members to keep in touch via the letterbox exchange.   Sarah has been involved in facilitating indirect and direct contact including reviewing and updating contact arrangements so that they reflect the changing needs of the children as they develop. Sarah welcomes the influence this research will have on current practice.  Sarah would like to see evidence of the conversations that have taken place and explanations for decisions made. Sarah is passionate about  the changes that can be made to practice and welcomes the opportunity to share ideas with all involved.


Instructions

A member of staff will be in touch with attendees one week prior to the event to share a pre-event delegate pack.

If you have any questions regarding this webinar, please contact us at info@cvaa.org.uk. We will aim to answer your query within two working days.

CVAA accept online payments only. In case you do not have instant access to your company card, we suggest using your personal card instead to book a training event and claim it back with your agency in your expenses. Requesting an invoice to pay for our standard practice events is not possible.

Working with Birth Relatives in a Strategic Capacity

Who this is for

Adoption Practitioners, Managers, Social Workers (Voluntary Adoption Agencies, Regional Adoption Agencies and Local Authorities), Children’s Social Workers, Support Workers and Independent Professionals.


Details

An opportunity to explore the themes, challenges and successes around working with birth relatives. Together we will explore challenges and opportunities created through the pandemic and how this has influenced changes within CAFIS to how we bring birth and adopted families together to support their child/ren.

“Everyone who wished to got a chance to speak and share. Good idea sharing forum, good to hear how other agencies are managing dilemmas and situations” – attendee, 2020

This webinar will explore how professionals who work with adopted children engage with birth relatives and the effectiveness of this.  We will look at how birth parents and relatives with lived experience of forced adoption can support current services, and discuss how it could be useful to enlist the help of birth relatives to assist with future service development around adoption.

“I attended this training on my 2nd week in my now adoption role. Prior to this I worked for 10 years on the LAC m. I enjoyed changing my perspective and hearing adoption workers views” – attendee, 2021

There will be an opportunity for participants to reflect on birth relatives input during both stage one and stage two of the foster carer and prospective adoptive parents’ assessment, how this affects current services and how it could be improved.

You will be able to network with practitioners from other agencies, share best practice and glean new ideas.


Learning outcomes

  • Better understanding of the stigma that birth relatives face both by professionals and wider society particularly birth fathers.
  • How to engage birth relatives.
  • How the needs of children are often overshadowed by the needs of foster carers/adoptive parents.
  • How lived experience can support the development of service which benefits the child.
  • How involving birth parents/relatives can impact and influence the views of foster/adoptive parents in regards to family time/keeping in touch arrangements

About the trainers

CAFIS (Connecting Adoptive families Independent Services) Barnardos, is commissioned to provide a number of services on behalf of the RAA Adoption Partnership Southeast, including birth parent support, access to records, intermediary and keeping in touch arrangements for children subject to adoption and SGO.


Instructions

A member of staff will be in touch with attendees one week prior to the event to share a pre-event delegate pack.

If you have any questions regarding this webinar, please contact us at info@cvaa.org.uk. We will aim to answer your query within two working days.

CVAA accept online payments only. In case you do not have instant access to your company card, we suggest using your personal card instead to book a training event and claim it back with your agency in your expenses. Requesting an invoice to pay for our standard practice events is not possible.

“We are still Humans” – Supporting Birth Parents through Adoption and onwards

Who this is for

Adoption Practitioners, Managers, Social Workers (Voluntary Adoption Agencies, Regional Adoption Agencies and Local Authorities), Children’s Social Workers, Support Workers and Independent Professionals.


Details

This webinar will challenge your thoughts on birth parents, question the processes they have to go through within adoption and feel ready to return to your work place and make some positive changes. You will hear birth parents views on the workers they have encountered, the experiences they have had and the changes they feel should be made.  These views will be shared via recordings and some direct thoughts from birth parents who will be part of the webinar.

Ally Osnowska at PACT will discuss what she has learnt over her time running Birth Family Matters, the tools she uses, and the challenges she faces in her day to day work.

Supporting birth relatives at a time of significant loss is challenging. This practice webinar will look at:

  • When to engage birth parents
  • Practical exercises that have been especially positive for engaging birth parents
  • How birth family support groups can have a positive impact on their wellbeing
  • How supporting birth parents can support the adoptive placement

You will be able to network with practitioners from other agencies: whether you are new to adoption or have been undertaking assessments for many years, this is a chance to share best practice and glean new ideas.


Learning outcomes

  • To gain ideas and guidance on how to work alongside birth parents and support them in a beneficial and effective manner
  • To further the focus in your practice on birth parents and the role they can play with the adoption process and the importance of this for the child, the adopters and the birth parents themselves
  • To gain a better first hand understanding of a birth parent’s experience of adoption
  • To have a chance to reflect on our own personal practice and how this can be changed to improve our impact on families and their futures

About the trainer

Ally Osnowska has 17 years experience of working in children’s social care.  She has run the Birth Family Matters service in Dorset since 2019 and is very passionate about the work she does and is very proud of the birth parents she supports.  She aims to make the process of adoption less traumatising for birth parents and has an amazing group of birth parents who are helping her in her goals.

Before this role she worked as a Social Worker in a Looked after child team and spent two years working in a children’s hospice, supporting families in their grief.


Instructions

A member of staff will be in touch with attendees one week prior to the event to share a pre-event delegate pack. If you have any questions regarding this webinar, please contact us at info@cvaa.org.uk. We will aim to answer your query within two working days.

CVAA accept online payments only. In case you do not have instant access to your company card, we suggest using your personal card instead to book a training event and claim it back with your agency in your expenses. Requesting an invoice to pay for our standard practice events is not possible.

Counting Dads in: Understanding and Supporting Birth Fathers

Who this is for

Adoption Practitioners, Managers, Social Workers (Voluntary Adoption Agencies, Regional Adoption Agencies and Local Authorities), Children’s Social Workers, Support Workers and Independent Professionals.


Details

This evidence seminar draws on findings from new research on fathers and recurrent care proceedings, carried out by Dr Georgia Philip as part of a research team from the University of East Anglia and Lancaster University. Together with Debra Brady, a senior adoption practitioner at Adopt Thames Valley, we will also explore practice issues when working with birth fathers and consider what best practice could look like when supporting them.

“I thought it was very thought provoking training and helped me to think about my own practice and how I work with birth fathers.” – Attendee, September 2021

The seminar will involve sharing and discussing evidence on the scale and pattern of birth fathers’ involvement in care proceedings, and important insights about the life histories of fathers who experience child removal. It will also present key messages for developing gender sensitive practice to get alongside birth fathers and fully explore how they may be supported to retain a stake in fatherhood which benefits children.

“[I liked the…] fact information was evidence based. I liked case examples that were used. I enjoyed hearing what was identified as being helpful engaging and working with birth parents. [I liked…] networking and sharing resources to signpost birth fathers onto.” – Attendee, September 2021
There will be opportunities to reflect on and share examples from practice as part of interrogating and engaging with the research.
“I enjoyed the course and would recommend to colleagues.” – Attendee, September 2021

Learning outcomes

  • to gain an appreciation of the bigger picture of birth fathers’ involvement in first and subsequent care proceedings
  • to gain an appreciation of the early life histories and cumulative vulnerabilities of birth fathers who have experienced child removal
  • to consider the opportunities and priorities for developing practice to support birth fathers

About the trainers

Dr Georgia Philip is a Lecturer in Social Work, in the School of Social Work at the University of East Anglia, and her role involves both teaching and research. She joined the School as a postdoctoral researcher in November 2011, after completing her PhD on fathering after separation. She subsequently worked on a study on decision making for children in care and since 2014 worked as a lead researcher on two Nuffield funded projects – the first on men’s experiences of the child protection system (Counting Fathers In) and the second on the scale, pattern and dynamics of fathers in recurrent care proceedings (Up Against It). Georgia is currently working on an evaluation of the Caring Dads programme in Blackburn with Darwen, and on developing training and support for working with fathers who experienced repeat care proceedings.

Debra Brady has been working in social care for 47 years starting in 1975. Debra has worked in residential care with adolescents  in Buckinghamshire and for the London Borough Of Islington. She qualified in 1989 and moved to become a field social worker in Bucks initially in child protection and then in all other areas of children`s services. Debra has worked in Adoption since 1994 and from 2001 became a post Adoption worker and then in 2012 moved to her current post in Oxfordshire as a Birth relative support worker and letterbox co-ordinator. Debra has also been lucky enough to have a placement with PAC and complete their therapeutic counselling course. Debra has also been a member of Adoption panels.


Instructions

A member of staff will be in touch with attendees one week prior to the event to share a pre-event delegate pack.

If you have any questions regarding this webinar, please contact us at info@cvaa.org.uk. We will aim to answer your query within two working days.

CVAA accept online payments only. In case you do not have instant access to your company card, we suggest using your personal card instead to book a training event and claim it back with your agency in your expenses. Requesting an invoice to pay for our standard practice events is not possible.

Life Story Work: Considering Best Practice and Learning from the Lived Experience

Who this is for

Adoption Practitioners, Managers, Social Workers (Voluntary Adoption Agencies, Regional Adoption Agencies and Local Authorities), Children’s Social Workers, Support Workers and Independent Professionals.


Details

A child’s life story considering best practice and learning from lived experiences, will allow adoption professionals to explore their knowledge on how to support children with life story work throughout their life. It will explore child appropriate language on how to speak about difficult topics including, domestic abuse, neglect, physical abuse and other topics that may be challenging.

This will follow the child’s journey from the conclusion from care proceedings to the final adoption order.

The training session will aim to explore a child’s journey through adoption with support from the Child and Family Workers within the Cumbrian children’s adopt team. We will be exploring the importance of relationship building with children, birth family, foster carers and adopters, while discussing life story tools to support communication and openness within families.

During the training we will share best practice and also look at tools used within the Cumbrian team and how this has supported children, foster families and adoptive families during the adoption process.


Learning outcomes

  • Exploring and sharing best practice in how we work with children with their birth family, within their foster family and then supporting them moving onto their adoptive family
  • Exploring how we support children to understand their life story within their foster home, along with supporting adopters to understand their child’s life story and how to support them to share this with their children
  • Sharing practical tools that families have found useful
  • Explore examples of the work we have completed
  • Looking and reflection on feedback Cumbria County Council have had from adopters, children and foster carers

About the trainers

Kayleigh Ward is a Child and Family Worker who currently resides with the children’s adoption team within Cumbria. Kayleigh has over 5 years’ experience working with children within child protection to adoption. She also has recently completed an advance certificate in therapeutic life story work to further her development to continue to support children. Kayleigh has completed over 80 life story books and has supported over 10 children to move on from foster care to adoption, along with supporting their birth families and adoptive families to understand the child’s life story so far.

Kim Conyers is a Social Worker who currently resides with the childrens’ adoption team within Cumbria. Kim has over 6 years of supporting children within support and protection and adoption. Kim is currently completing her level 2 in BUSS training. Kim has a wealth of knowledge on supporting adoptive families and continues within the team to share her lived experiences and knowledge.


Instructions

A member of staff will be in touch with attendees one week prior to the event to share a pre-event delegate pack. If you have any questions regarding this webinar, please contact us at info@cvaa.org.uk. We will aim to answer your query within two working days.

CVAA accept online payments only. In case you do not have instant access to your company card, we suggest using your personal card instead to book a training event and claim it back with your agency in your expenses. Requesting an invoice to pay for our standard practice events is not possible.