It’s All About Me

Posted by editor 25/11/2013 0 Comment 3482 views


Out of 5,000 children seeking adoption each year, heart-wrenchingly, half are left languishing on the National Adoption Register (NAR), often within unstable foster care placements. Up to 80 per cent don’t get adopted, reports Danielle Aumord. //

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 available to local authorities throughout the UK, funded through a Social Impact Bond for an initial 10-year period. A 24-hour helpline is available to adoptive families during the first two years, offering advice from experienced social workers to reduce the risk of placements breaking down.

“Many of these children carry 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 children in long-term foster care suffer from low self-esteem combined with the inability to regulate their emotions. A lack of adoptive parents prepared to take on such children is another key area that IAAM are addressing.

It’s hoped that the availability of therapeutic training tailored to the specific needs of the individual children will encourage more families to look at offering a stable home for these youngsters. BBC TWO documentary A Home For Maisie highlights these issues,  within an extreme case of behavioural and psychological concerns all within one seven-year-old girl showing 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 this client group are harder to place simply because they are over the age of four or 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 organisers of IAAM are dreaming big by aspiring initially to find 100 placements annually and hope that this will rise to more than 300 per year. There’s also the expectation that the scheme will 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.

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