Thursday 9 June 2016

Coffee & Cake

Suddenly Mummy’s smashing blogpost last week set me away thinking about the nature, practicalities and systems of Post Adoption Support.

The Adoption Support Fund has scratched one itch. We now have a route to therapeutic services for our children and within the context of reduced budgets and cuts that's nothing to be sniffed at. 

We are about to see additional support for children within schools through the duty's put on Virtual School Heads, how that's going to play out I don't know but I'm hopeful.

Adoption is on the agenda, for now, and significant changes are afoot, by 2017 we will have several regional adoption agencies and what that will mean for adoption support is yet to be seen but things are moving. There's talk and hopes that they may provide 'hubs' of excellence in therapeutic and mental health services. That the good bits will be kept and the rubbish laid aside. 

All of this is good and part of a support 'jigsaw' that many of us need. 

However, I worry that in the drive for high profile solutions that we step over some of the cornerstones of good support. Sometimes what we need is pretty easy, a wise word and a listening ear over coffee and cake. Good old fashioned social work, pretty cheap, pretty easy.* But the reality is that it doesn't always seem that easy and as a Social Work Student Practice Educator I see it's a skill that doesn't necessarily come easily to all students. Contemporary Social Work Practice appears to be pushed more and more into a bureaucratic role where keyboard skills are as highly valued as people skills. Maybe that's right. 

However, if the high profile solutions are to be effective I believe that the most basic skills need to underpin them. I genuinely believe that one major part of the success of the Adoption Support Fund is the fact that families have had Social Workers sat in their living rooms listening.

I do hope that in this environment change and opportunities for adopters to voice their views on the systems and processes that make up adoption and adoption support that we don't forget the coffee and cake. 

*I'm conveniently putting aside some of the unhelpful things that can be and have been said by Social Workers through the ages. Please don't share them in the comments, the internet only has so much capacity.


  1. You are right about the pre-cursor to the success of the ASF - a PASW actually listening. Unfortunately, while I have fared well, I have heard from others who have stumbled at this first hurdle, and struggled to get past this 'gateway' to support. For myself, while the initial interview was almost to good to be true, we now wait to see whether the shadowy 'finance panel' will action my PASW's plan for us. I have not fared particularly well with this panel previously so let's see!

    1. It's hard to measure and quantify as social media is rammed with bad experiences but I have a feeling that people are more likely to tell those than the positive experiences. To my mind what's going on behind the scenes impacts on Social Workers' interactions, if the threshold for service is high then they only have no good news to bring and which impacts on interactions. I can only wish you good luck with the 'finance panel' it's heartbreaking that you're at their mercy when we'd hope that for our children access to services and support would be just a given. As always many thanks for commenting and you're mad for camping.

  2. I am so on board with not forgetting the coffee and cake!!! I am negotiating my way through post-adoption support for the very first time ... and the idea of having someone sat in my living room listening seems ... well ... what dreams are made of!!! The two support workers I have spoken with on the phone have been lovely but oh for a person in front of me to listen!!! I feel I have lost my way in the parenting takes ... and that maybe, just maybe, wise word might help me get back on track!

    1. Thank you for commenting. You can't beat the human touch, the most simple of interactions can make all the difference to our levels of anxiety and stress. As you say just for someone to sit in front of you and listen. I hope they provide you with what you need.