Out of approximately 5,000 children seeking adoption each year, half are left languishing on the National Adoption Register (NAR), often within unstable foster care placements. Heart-wrenchingly, up to 80% don’t get adopted.
A new scheme called ‘It’s all About Me’ (IAMM) seeks to reverse this trend by offering therapeutic training to adoptive parents, with the key aim being finding permanent homes for ‘difficult to place’ kids.
‘IAAM’ is the brainchild of Jim Clifford, father to nine adopted children. “There are far too many children on the NAR who are never placed with adoptive parents,” he says. “There are many complex reasons for this, but through this scheme, we can encourage, equip and support more families to adopt these children.”
The service is now available to local authorities throughout the UK, funded through a Social Impact Bond for an initial 10-years. It offers families a 24-hour helpline during the first two years to families after adoption. The aim here is to offer advice from experienced social workers to reduce the risk of placements breaking down. In addition, there will be organised activities for adopted children and buddying with other adoptive parents.
“Many of these young people carry with them the legacy of early years’ neglect and trauma. It isn’t always easy, but with the right training and support; it can also be so very rewarding for parents who help turn young people’s lives around,” says Clifford.
Many of those in long-term foster care suffer from low self-esteem combined with the inability to regulate their emotions. All these symptoms are typical of an unstable home life, which can result in effects similar to PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).
A lack of adoptive parents prepared to take on such children and the higher risk of placements breaking down as a result of lack of support are key areas that ‘IAAM’ are addressing. It’s hoped that the availability of therapeutic training tailored to the specific need of the individual child will encourage more families to look at offering a stable home for these youngsters and ease the crisis.
Such issues are highlighted in a documentary called ‘A Home for Maisie‘, which describes an extreme case of behavioural and psychological concerns all within one seven-year-old girl. It shows that there is hope of finding a permanent family for youngsters who are considered to be more challenging.
Clifford says: “A permanent therapeutic placement with a family can improve a young person’s physical and mental health and reduce the risk of challenging behaviours turning into offending behaviour in later life.”
Many of IAAM’s targeted client group are harder to place simply because they are over the age of four or because they want to be placed with brothers and sisters. Kids in care from BME (Black and Ethnic Minority) groups also have more difficulty accessing adoptive placements. According to Jacqui Lawrence, Fostering Development Consultant at BAAF (British Association for Adoption and Fostering) BME children wait longer for adoptive parents because “waiting for the right cultural and ethnic match creates delays.”
The scheme initially aspires to find 100 placements each year for kids who would otherwise remain in long-term local authority care. The organisers of ‘IAAM’ are dreaming big and hope that demand for this will rise to more than 300 per year.
On a financial note, the scheme is expected to save money for the public purse. It’s estimated that for every 300 successful adoptive placements in excess of £1.5bn will be saved in terms of the services needed to repair the damage of concurrent broken down foster care placements that can so often be carried into adult life.
Now all that’s needed is for local authorities to log in and participate.
For more information or enquiries, log onto: http://www.bakertilly.co.uk/publications/Pages/Its-All-About-Me.aspx and make contact!
Written by Danielle Aumord