Could one of the 27 of you that have looked at this thread over the last 2 hours please let me know if you can access the attachment. Absolutely no comment required just to let me know whether I am a technophobe or not - ta muchly.
Mum to EJ (15) complex mental health issues at EBD school, BJ (13.5) exec functioning problems. Soon to celebrate 13 yrs with us.
Well done for getting this written up & posted I'm a bit irritated that it's seemingly we're a list if tragic families that stuff has happened to rather than the majority if happily ever afters.... When I read the 'enough is enough' report it couldn't be further from the case!
Mum to AS (19) who is home, AD ( 17) who isn't and BD (7). Lucked in when married my best friend and became a mummy. Partial to a cuddle and a cuppa tea....
Thanks Jellies and well done, finally got it to open on my aged laptop. It had to convert it as my word is older.
Great points made by everyone - made very sad reading and great that Sir Martin found the time to listen, but I was a bit shocked to read he only works "3 days a month in his role as Government Adoption Advisor" - that is utter madness!! How can he possible help us if his time is so limited? It needs someone on it full time to make any difference.
"Changes in the next couple of years will ensure that new adopters coming behind will get the help they need" - What about us existing adopters with children hitting their teens and going off the rails? What about us? - Who is going to help us and now?
I really hope that the meeting highlighted to him how desperate we are to access help for our children. I fervently hope that Sir Martin goes back to the Government and tells them just how let down we all are and that they actually do something about it, but sadly I think it will be a bit late for a lot of our children.
Has he said anything about getting back to you, replying to the comments brought up at the meeting?
Well done to everyone who attended, or sent their stories to him and I hope that people continue to do so as he has to be aware that the POTATO's aren't the only ones suffering, a lot of adopters with younger children are too, but hopefully things will have changed for the better by the time their children reach their teens thanks to the POTATO's and their dogged persistance.
Minutes of Meeting with Sir Martin Narey – 21.05.2014
INTRODUCTIONS: Meeting commenced with brief introductions around the table. The Chair highlighted the agenda for the meeting, explaining that due to time restrictions people would be invited to speak in turn on the topics they had preselected, then after each topic there would be an opportunity for Sir Martin Narey to ask questions.
The group leader gave a short introduction to Sir Martin about the POTATO (Parents of Traumatised Adopted Teens Organisation) Group. We are a group of parents who parent our traumatised adopted teenagers and support one another via a very secure FB group. We hope to become a Community Interest Company(CIC) by the end of this year.
She pointed out that this meeting was timely following the “Beyond The Adoption Order” research recently published by Dr Julie Selwyn et al. Key points from the research were that:
• Disruption rates were lower than previous estimates indicated • At least 25% of adopters were found to be struggling with extreme behaviours and / or violence
It was pointed out that a survey of the POTATO group members identified issues for discussion at the meeting, and there was considerable overlap with the findings of the Selwyn report.
Sir Martin Narey stated that in 2011 He commissioned the research following his article in The Times. He stated that he had previously underestimated the scale of the need for post-adoption support. Sir Martin Narey reassured the meeting that the Selwyn report is at the centre of current “high level” discussions, including Ministers such as Michael Gove.
SECTION 1 –PROSPECTIVE ADOPTERS:
Speaker 1: The speaker outlined her experience as Vice Chair of an Adoption Approval panel, a trainer in the field of Adoption and an adopter. She highlighted concerns that pressure to meet targets has resulted in the approval process now being too quick for some cases. There are issues arising at Panel, where matching panels are delayed due to the need for space to approve adopters within six months. This member highlighted survey results stating only 4% of adopters had felt properly prepared for their role, whilst 59% felt they were not properly prepared.
Speaker 2: There are some elements of good practice – Birth children in the family were closely involved in the approval process. The downside was that after placement there was no follow-up or support provided for the birth child. This would have been helpful in explaining the difficulties arising from the adoptee.
Sir Martin Narey: I have a relaxed attitude to timescales for approval, the aim of the 6 month target is to stop social workers trying to “de-risk” everything and leaving children in care too long. There needs to be some flexibility for individuals. A key issue is matching – putting adopters in charge of the process leads to secure matches. The big challenge is to unravel the social workers’ historic practice of using matrices!
SECTION 2 – EDUCATION:
Relevant survey statistics from the Potato Group: • 40% of adopters had a positive experience • 30% Had an average or bad experience • 30% stated this did not apply to them.
The Potato group leader stated that when a child begins to show attachment difficulties in school, typically the school do not understand. There is a need for better training and access to support for schools.
Speaker 1: The speaker explained she has two children, aged 4 and 6, with complex needs. The elder has a RAD diagnosis and both may be on the ASD spectrum. The speaker works in a large secondary school which is attachment aware. The school her children attend claims all teachers are attachment aware. She is struggling to get school to listen, it is an uphill battle. There is an inherent lack of understanding. She had hoped PP+ would help, but as the children are academically bright they do not receive help via PP+ funding. The 4 yo child is already school refusing and showing physical symptoms – daily diarrhoea. The primary school, refuse to discuss with this parent how PP+ monies are used. An example of lack of understanding was when her daughter, who is terrified of men, was denied access to a school trip as no TA support was provided to accompany her – this could have been funded via PP+. The school intended to carry out Emotional Literacy work with the girls, despite their lack of specialist expertise and despite CAMHS stating that this was not appropriate. The speaker stated that despite trying hard to work with school she now has to face looking for a new school for her girls, and has had to ask the Virtual School Head Teacher to try and find a better school for the girls. The speaker recognised that individual class teachers try to help, but any specialist equipment / staff cover has to be funded by the speaker herself as it is not provided by school.
Speaker 2: The speaker stated that what was needed from schools was not rocket science! There are lots of small, practical things that can easily be done by schools. The speaker stated that guidance is being prepared and needs to be robust; she has given a presentation to the Adoption Reform Group.
Sir Martin Narey: Confirmed that new guidance is being prepared. Twitter was cited where a tweeter GM had tweeted about excellent practice used by the Virtual Head teacher (VHT).
Speaker 3: The VHT mentioned above also has a governing body to help them with oversight of Looked after and adopted children’s progress and a large proportion of PP and PP+ is also managed by the VHT. It should also be noted that the DCS in this LA is a care leaver.
Speaker 4: Suggested that a list of key points for schools to use could be compiled.
Speaker 5: In her experience school never recognised the issues. The school did not follow the law on exclusions. Despite this her son remains positive about education at the age of 17, yet he has not accessed full time education since the age of 7.
She proceeded to catalogue the failures: Reception / Y1 – No assessment done despite clear literacy issues. The family paid privately for Family Futures Assessment. 1 month before the child was permanently excluded it was found he could not read or write. Year 2 - Child tried to hang himself in the school toilets, this was not understood by school, who failed to see it as a measure of his complexity. Some TA support would have allowed him to survive in mainstream school. Year 3 – School was ok – behaviour terrible at home – a measure of the child’s stress level. At this point professionals began blaming the parents! Year 4 – Requested a SENCO meeting – was given all positive class feedback by the teacher. This was followed by a series of illegal exclusions, parents offered to fund TA support. A PSP was written, then the child was immediately permanently excluded. At this point the child questioned if he would be able to stay with his adoptive family. The child was recognising his own level of need – painted himself as a red flag! The child had to be moved out of the family home at 16. The speaker feels that at every turn, the education service made things worse!
Speaker 6: The speaker has had to remove her daughter from primary school and home educate after school failed to meet the needs of her child and the fallout at home was too damaging to continue. There has been no support.
Speaker 7: The Education department fail to understand that repeated failure is not an option for these children! (Allowing them to be permanently excluded then move schools, move to PRU’s etc). Statement funding varies hugely between counties leading to inequalities.
Speaker 8: School don’t get it! Her child underachieves every year. Mandatory training on attachment and the impact of trauma should be part of the teacher training requirement.
NOTE: Bath Spa University have an `Attachment in learning’ module in their Masters programme and have been developing a module to be rolled out in the National PGCE . Sir Martin may like to know that Richard Parker, the -Director, Centre for Education Policy in Practice, School of Education at Bath Spa University would be more than willing to discuss this with him. Richard can be contacted on 01225 876227 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
Speaker 9: Some positive news – Since the pupil premium plus was introduced she has seen a tenfold increase in her business in training enquiries from schools!
Speaker 10: It’s essential that PP is sorted so that it follows ALL our children, even those adopted pre-2005, since many of these are just entering secondary school, the critical part of their education.
Speaker 11: Found an Alternative Education provider who was excellent – “On Track” – could not access funding for the placement until the child went into Foster care, when it was immediately available!
Speaker 12: Specialist residential school has been transformative – instead of not attending her daughter is now in school most of the time.
Speaker 13: Both her children have been failed by the education system. School refuse to listen and acknowledge the difficulties the children face. One child has been permanently excluded and now attends a specialist therapeutic school. This is despite him having a statement, and parent constantly liaising with school. There were numerous breaches of legislation, periods of illegal exclusion. Despite a clear statement that the child needs an attachment figure, the role was shared between 5 part-time staff! The second child has never made satisfactory progress in school, achieving an average of 1 sub-level annually. Every year staff are convinced she is making good progress all year, and are surprised at her end of year results! The biggest barrier is schools do not listen! Their attitude is “we are professional, we know best”.
Sir Martin Narey Are there any straightforward things that schools can do quickly that will make a difference, can you email me with ideas?
Potato group members agreed to forward suitable resource suggestions via email to Sir Martin Narey. email@example.com
SECTION 3 – ADOPTION SUPPORT LA or VA:
Speaker 1: Two girls, half- siblings, were placed at ages 4 and 7 years. The girls had been with a stable foster carer for 2 years prior to placement. Before this they had been with birth mother, suffering neglect until ages 1 and 4. At placement the girls were described as having “minimal needs”. Adoption support plan from (an LA in the midlands) was a settling-in payment of £300 and told to phone if any help was needed.
7 years later. When the family contacted Social Services in crisis, there was no response. After 5 months of telephone calls and letters, they were visited. The family got to CAMHS too late. This resulted in one child being sexually exploited, supplying inappropriate photos etc. Violence to her sibling was prevalent. CAMHS and PASW recommended a “time limited local authority care place with therapy”. The LA PAS team is just 1 ½ SW! The family had to then deal with the main Children’s Services team SW, who had little or no training in attachment. They were referred to a parenting skills course. The family were instructed not to involve the police for violent incidents etc. No respite was offered. At Christmas, the SW took the police into school and issued the girl with a sexual offences order! The child moved into Local Authority Care, but 7 months later, still NO therapy has even begun! There has been no attempt to support the younger sibling.
Speaker 2: This adopter stated that the LA have been no help at all! This family are also a (Midlands LA)! They have been informed the LA have no experience of their situation. 18 months ago, birth family began seeking out the family via Facebook and at school! The family informed police and social services. They found out the birth family had now moved within 1 mile of their home. They had not been informed by Social services. The family asked for assistance to fund a move to protect their child. The child was in transition to secondary school, so minimal disruption was essential. The birth parents continued to harass the family. 8-9 weeks ago, a school TA phoned mum to say that her daughter had been given a lift to school by her birth family. The birth family had intercepted the girl on her way to school, taken her to their home and introduced her to her extended birth family.
This was immediately reported to the police and social services. They stated it was an abduction, but they could do nothing as the BF was a very clever man! The birth parents are now taking the adoptive family to court to seek direct contact. The adopters now have to fund their own legal expenses, have been given no financial help whatsoever. The family is now in crisis, the child’s education is suffering and the whole family are affected. The judge has directed the birth family not to attempt to make any contact, even through 3rd parties, but this has not stopped them.
Social services now state that the adopters are “uncooperative” since they tried to manage the number of new people becoming involved with their daughter to minimise her stress.
There appears to be no help from the police or social care to protect their daughter.
Speaker 3: Since November 2011, their child has been classed as a Child In Need. The local authority were instructed to produce a care plan but still took “56 weeks” to produce the plan! Now, the family are treated with respect, their specialist knowledge is recognised. The team welcomed CATCHPOINT training, they communicate well and they are supportive. This position has taken 10 years to achieve!
Previously there was conflict regarding exclusions, statements, risk assessments, and managing the risks. ALL initiatives have had to come via the adoptive parents. The help now given has been hard won! This adopter stated that the culture of Social services is an issue – it’s all about blaming the parents! Back in April 2004, Adoption Today carried an article stating “adopters should be able to tell it like it is”.
Local authorities begin from the point of blaming parenting. There is a culture of opinions being stated as fact with no verification. There was a culture where nobody would stand up against the “bullcarp”. There was collusion in the writing of reports. The Local Authority only want to use their own reports to suit their own agenda. Language used is a problem. There is a tendency to “excuse not explain”. “Intervention” is recommended rather than “support”.
If the child does not engage, the attitude is simply to “bin it”. There are double standards. Children are deprived of education. This speaker wanted Sir Martin to be aware that professionals need to `care` and that they lack compassion. This family have not felt any compassion in their dealings with professionals other than the private therapy provider.
Speaker 4: There were clear issues regarding this family’s religious beliefs – described by Social Services as being “out of synch”.
Speaker 5: There is a basic misunderstanding of the effects of trauma by those in the system.
Speaker 6: The child’s details were not accurately recorded on her Form E, so this has made it impossible to access the help needed.
Speaker 7: When this mother challenged Social Services that her children clearly had issues after placement, she was threatened with their removal. The PASW was shocked by the lack of transparency around the children. PAS signed off the family though as they live too far away to attend any of their organised events. They will not hand over responsibility to the LA where the family live though as they are still within 3 years of placement. n attempt was made to set up a CAF for the children, but they do not qualify. The adoptive mother is now on her own. Her only option is to contact the EDT.
Speaker 8: The police have been the best support service we have accessed. They have been totally non-judgmental.
Speaker 9: Following a health crisis for her birth child, which was partly linked to the stress levels within their family, social services were contacted by school and a child protection enquiry started. There were serious trust issues with the social worker.
Speaker 10: Automatic PAS follow-up needs to take place. Good practice would involve PAS making telephone contact annually with all families to check how things are going.This would pre-empt parents only contacting PAS at crisis point.
Child Protection inquiry is now almost a rite of passage for adoptive families!
NOTE: Sir Martin asked for a show of hands from those who had been subject to CP investigations. 50% of attendees had been involved in CP investigations - all of which ended with no further action being taken (and not much support being offered either).
Non-violent resistance (NVR) is being investigated by the Hampton Trust, who are looking to use NVR in working with children of trauma to reduce child to parent violence. NOTE: The Hampton Trust can be contacted on 023 8115 7065
Speaker 11: NVR has been a game changer for our family!
Speaker 12: PAS have a lack of resources. They have to refer families to the safeguarding team in order to access respite care.
SECTION 4 – OTHER ADOPTION SUPPORT
Speaker 1: Other services can often be helpful – the police especially. Private therapy – organisations such as Family Futures, Catchpoint, Chrysalis etc have been successful for many. Most of this work is self-funded by adopters but there is occasionally LA funding.
For many families, these therapists are the only reason their children can stay at home. There are serious concerns regarding how the NICE guidelines will reflect this.
Speaker 2: For the last 3 ½ years this parent has been fighting for therapy via CAMHS for her child. He has been refused due to not “fitting their criteria”. This child is classed as “not severe or complex” by CAMHS.
The parent attends the consultation drop-in service at CAMHS, (no referral needed) and was advised to request a CAMHS referral again from the GP after paying for private assessments for her child. Again, when referred, her child was turned down, stating he does not meet the criteria.
Speaker 3: This family have a chequered relationship with CAMHS. They have seen many different teams but were always told they don’t fit the remit! The children have ASD diagnoses but nobody is available who understands their attachment needs. CAMHS do not have what this family needs. The only help they have accessed is when school funded DDP for their child.
Speaker 4: Nationally, Tier 3 CAMHS Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) providers have been forced out of the service as CAMHS will no longer fund the therapy due to the lack of an evidence base. Many of these practitioners have now set up in private practice as they understand the need for useful therapeutic intervention with traumatised adopted children and specialize in DDP. Many adopters self fund but a few LA’s have DDP trained PASW’s and or fund the therapy privately. Only 2 respondents of our survey have had private DDP work funded by Clinical Commissioning Groups.
Speaker 5: This family had therapy stopped abruptly for their child when the therapist completed her dissertation and no longer needed evidence!
Speaker 6: CAMHS services are too generic for adopted children. Funding issues have removed the access for adopters to a specialist team in (the midlands).This family anticipate they will somehow have to privately fund DDP for their child.
Speaker 7: This parent is keen to have an Adoption Support Fund pilot, where families can apply for the funding needed for their chosen therapy.
Speaker 8: (The LA) made life difficult at the start of placement, there was no support plan in place. The family delayed applying for the adoption order as a result. It took 12 months for the panel to agree to fund an assessment for the children. They received a CAMHS referral for one child self-harming. They finally received a referral to a private therapist. When they requested therapy for their younger child, they were told to “use what they had learned” with the elder sibling! They now have to wait for the local authority to agree to fund therapy.
Speaker 9: Following a single one-hour appointment at CAMHS, they were informed they had no need for the service and their child was securely attached. (This child continues to exhibit extreme behaviours and has had to be removed from a mainstream setting and home schooled due to the level of her difficulties).
Speaker 10: Following 3 ½ years of play therapy, this adopter was told there was nothing they could do so the therapy was ended. After a child protection referral, they were offered family therapy. This was so difficult it was ended after the second session. The family see a need for holistic therapy. There is currently no flexibility in what type of therapy is offered or the times of appointments through CAMHS. There is no consideration of sensory integration. Paying privately for therapy has placed this family in financial crisis.
Speaker 11: Some service was offered by CAMHS, then (the LA) changed their tendering arrangements. They had previously worked on a DDP model. When referred to Tier 4 CAMHS in crisis they started with CBT.
The family are now funding therapy themselves. This has enabled the therapist to start at the point of need for the child, There is added flexibility to modify the approach used due to being private. In this case the therapist has been able to visit the child at home. The family had to demonstrate to CAMHS that the children were threatening suicide, the only respite offered would be at weekends overnight, there was no help available for the daytime. The only other support was 90 minutes per week from the YOT mentor.
SECTION 5 - S20 PARENTS:
Speaker 1: It is essential that Local Authorities begin to record that these children are previously LAC, who are returning to the care system.
Speaker 2: This parent believed that S20 accommodation would result in therapy for her child. 12 months on, therapy has still not started. The SW from the LAC team has not engaged with the family. In 12 months the SW has only made 6 visits.
Speaker 3: This family have been forced to sign S20 documents in order to access funding for the specialist therapeutic school place their child needed. This has huge financial impact for the family. The family were not warned in advance that S20 status was needed for the school place to be funded.
Speaker 4: There is no recognition from the LA of the right to employment. Leisure etc of the adoptive parent.
SECTION 6 – POST 18 SUPPORT:
Written response: A member of the POTATO group, unable to attend the meeting, has forwarded a letter to Sir Martin Narey, which was handed over.
Speaker: The new EHC plans are intended to cover 0 -25 years, so PAS services need to go from 0-25 too. There has been no evaluation of adopters’ experiences. There should not need to be an SCR for an adopter’s death before this is done! There is an urgent need to collect the data.
Sir Martin Narey: Whilst fully committed, points out that this role is a 3 days per month role! Changes in the next couple of years will ensure that new adopters coming behind will get the help they need. Lower cost early interventions would have prevented many of the situations becoming so serious. DCS’s have often not known what’s going on.
Work is ongoing looking into reducing the turnover of DCSs. Recently, Sir Martin has received more letters from DCSs who are recognising the need for raising the priority of adoption services. Adopters are encouraged to write to Sir Martin to share their experiences and concerns with him.
Speaker: Will the new regional adoption boards have space on them for adopters?
Sir Martin Narey: There will be no mandate but it would be recommended to have adopters on the boards. Sir Martin thanked the Potatoes for sharing their experiences and the Potatoes thanked Sir Martin for making time to hear them.
Thanks to all involved and for posting details - makes for interesting reading and will raise awareness in my patch (albeit as a wrinkly I am desperately saddened so many families are still banging their heads against brick walls)
Whilst posting could someone kindly fill me in on regional adoption boards - haven't heard a peep about them here and my La always desperate for representatives for one thing or another so quite surprised to have missed this development... Many Tks.
Mum to DS ( 30 and a spell in his 20s living with bm on, off, on) and DD late 20's and newly independent - phew ) ...and still standing!!
At the moment there is only ONE Adoption leadership board (a National 1). Sir Martin is the chair of that group and the idea is to have influential folk on the ALB who are in a position to change things quickly. The idea for the future (don't know how quickly this is going to happen) is to have regional ALB to influence and make changes within regions - no idea yet what the regions will be - but suspect Local government/ DCS/ NHS England reps etc will sit on the regional boards. He has said that there may be more than 1 adopter on the national board BUT they are not there because they are adopters, they are there because they are in positions of power to effect change. So when he mentioned the regional boards that is why we asked about adopters being on those groups - he said he could not mandate to regional boards but would suggest that each one should consider having an adopter on each board - we shall have to wait and see - if regions advertise in way shape or fashion, but if folk are really interested, may I suggest that you all write to Directors of childrens services , say you are aware that regional adoption leadership boards are to be established and if (which you are sure they will do in the best interests of adoption/adopters and adoptees) they need adopters to sit on the board, you are more than willing to be considered. Tell all adopters locally about this and get them to do the same - at least that way - if they choose not to have adopters on the regional board where you live - you can moan away with impunity (devily smiley face thingy).