What a historic year for Families for Children Adoption Agency. This year marks their 25th Anniversary as a charity and also celebrates 70 years of holding adoption records.
The Agency celebrated with staff, colleagues, friends and adoptive families with a Service of Thanksgiving, followed by a garden cream tea at Buckfast Abbey in Devon.
During the last 25 years it has been the creative leadership and vision of the Agency’s CEO that has allowed Families for Children to grow into one of the largest Voluntary Adoption Agencies in the UK. They have a national reputation for adoption services and an outstanding Ofsted rating three times in a row.
Caroline Davis, OBE , who has been CEO of the Agency since its start in 2003 and who retires this year, talks about the valuable services and work the charity does in finding and supporting families for vulnerable children from all over the UK.
“I was appointed CEO of Families for Children 25 years ago. It had just been established as a new adoption agency, forged out of two, small, predecessor adoption agencies, Exeter Diocesan Board for Christian Care and the Plymouth Catholic Children’s Society.
When I was appointed I had just two administrative staff and four part time social workers. 25 years on and we currently have a team of over 50 staff which includes a dynamic fundraising and marketing team, a sound financial and business management team, extremely supportive trustees along with highly qualified and experienced professional staff.
Before becoming the manager of an award winning family centre for both children and adopters I worked for Devon Social Services, initially as a social worker, then moved into the role of Area Child Care Adviser. My passion has always been working with children and families and whenever possible finding ways of keeping children with their birth families. Sadly, there are many situations where this is not safe or appropriate and adoption is a hugely positive opportunity for those children who are unable to remain with their birth families, for whatever reason. It is essential that children are prepared properly for adoption, are matched with the best possible family for them, and provided with quality support whenever, and for as long as, they need it. “
Families for Children recruit adoptive families from across the South West and prepare them to take on children with many challenges. The children they place come from local authority care, from across the UK. All children who are unable to live with their birth family will have experienced trauma and loss. Unfortunately, many of the children they place will also have been through neglect and abuse. Having well trained, prepared and supported adoptive families is vital to providing a new stable and secure home for children who have already been through so many difficulties.
The Agency places around 50 children a year and specialises in keeping groups of brothers and sisters together as a family, as well as placing older children and those with extra needs. They are committed to providing them with much needed therapeutic services and support. Recently praised by OFSTED as providing a consistently high-quality, individually tailored service to children, young people, adult service users and adopters, the Agency continues to evaluate and improve the services they provide to their children and families.
As a charity the support services they offer are not funded by Government and for this work they currently need to raise around £400,000 a year in order to support their children with the level of services they deserve.
Caroline says, “Raising this money is an ongoing challenge – however, although we do face many obstacles the things that have kept me going are seeing the fantastic improvement in children’s lives and working in an incredible Agency with staff and Trustees who have supported my vision. It’s what has got me out of bed on all those mornings!
At Families for Children we have been passionate about giving our children the best possible, second start to their lives, supporting them in dealing with past traumas, and enabling them to focus on a positive future for 25 years and we hope we can continue to provide valid and life changing support for many more years to come.”
Caroline’s successor, Ruth Marriott, joins the charity with extensive experience in developing services to support young people who have had challenging backgrounds. She was previously the CEO at The Zone in Plymouth, a young people’s youth charity developing specific mental health services. She has worked as a regional manager for a firm supporting young people and families, UK wide programme lead for an innovative BIG Lottery programme, Realising Ambition, and recently as a CEO for a group of charities in Southampton providing health and wellbeing services. She is passionate about young people benefitting from services to help them grow into adulthood and sees stable families as a key way to encourage them to reach their potential.
She hopes to build on Caroline’s legacy and continue to grow the agency delivering adoption support services that are second to none.