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Event Tag: digital letterbox

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.


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.”


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 We will aim to answer your query within two working days.

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