Families for Children, local adoption agency and charitable trust, were joined by patron and adoptee Michael Caines, MBE, to officially launch their new Centre for Adoption Support, the Atrium.
The launch, which was hosted by Lucy and Jim Fisher at Exeter Cookery School, welcomed guests from local authorities, adopted families, funders of the project and service users. They heard how the new look service will enable the Charity to provide vital new adoption support services in the region.
Michael says: “I have experienced first-hand the support of this charity in understanding adoption and the effects it can have on your whole life. The services the Atrium will provide are invaluable to those not only as they start to think about adopting a child but also years down the line when they need someone to be there.”
The services the Atrium will deliver has been initially funded by a half a million pound Practice and Improvement Grant from the DfE, which the charity secured at the end of last year. They also have funding for specific projects from a BBC Children in Need grant.
The funding has allowed Families for Children to develop a service never seen before in the South West from one provider. The services they can provide include multi-disciplinary assessments, a variety of therapeutic and clinical services, education and support to schools, training for adopters and a wraparound service offering telephone support for guidance, advice and referral for adoption support, telephone counselling, peer support groups, activities and summer camps for children and family days.
Janet Smith, Project Manager says: “As a specialist adoption agency we have always prided ourselves in being able to offer our families the very best right from the outset – for as long as needed.
We understand that many adopted children face challenges as a result of early traumatic life experiences and therefore children, their families, schools and all those around them may need help to understand and meet these challenges.
It is important for adopters to know that they have a support plan in place and that there is somewhere they can go for help to access additional support.”
The Atrium has commissioned Psychology Associates, a leading independent practice of counselling, neuropsychological, forensic and educational psychologists, to deliver the therapeutic and clinical services.
Dr Karen Kershaw, Registered Clinical Psychologist, says: “Our specialist multi-disciplinary team at the Atrium have particular expertise in working with children with complex developmental trauma and attachment difficulties, who have experienced adversity in their early years. Our role is to work with the young people, adoptive families, professionals and schools to develop collaborative goals for therapeutic intervention, empowering families to achieve these goals.”
Families for Children works alongside local authorities across the South West and is actively involved with the Regional Adoption Agencies, Adopt South West and Aspire Adoption. Their services are FREE to Families for Children adopters, with funding applied for from Local Authorities and the Adoption Support Fund. The Charity needs to raise over £400,000 a year through charitable trusts and grants, as well as fundraising support.
The Agency stress how important it is for adopters to know they have a workable support plan in place and that there is some where they can go for help however small or large that need may be. Many of the children placed have come from a traumatic start in life and sometimes that history can manifest itself in behavioural and emotional problems as they get older. Whilst in some children these effects are evident immediately and support is offered from the start, for other families it may not be needed until the child reaches puberty or adolescence. The new service aims to target some of the support regularly needed as well as looking at educating those involved in the process including adopters, schools and wider networks.
The Charity are currently supporting over 120 families with adoption services. This is only set to grow with the increasing number of children being placed for adoption. These children will need additional support because of the effects of trauma during their early years.
Caroline Davis, OBE, Charity CEO, says: “This is a fantastic opportunity to be able to support so many adoptive families in the region. Without this crucial support so many families would be left to cope alone. Our thanks go to all the staff involved in the development and delivery of the service which will mean so much to so many families.”