Thursday, 5 April 2018

Words Matter: Adoption and Special Guardians Leadership Board

This is a brief comment on a meeting of the Adopter Reference Group that I was a part of this week via a conference call. The group does what it says on the tin it's an opportunity for the views and opinions of adopters on specific highlighted to be fed to, what was, the Adoption Leadership Board. The views come from across the adoption community through the adopter voice consultation programme and are sometimes very specific as well as often the aggregation of what adoption groups and communities are thinking on the issues and topics highlighted.

I say 'what was' the Adoption Leadership Board (ALB) as for the agenda papers that we received prior to the meeting it was clear that the ALB has changed it's name to the Adopters and Special Guardian Leadership Board (ASGLB).

Well, that's quite a change and words matter.

No fanfare or big announcement but I checked and it's in the public domain so there's no reason not to consider what that means for adopters and special guardians. Its no real shock as we're aware even though we represent two very distinct communities with often very different experiences, circumstances, demographics, and challenges our common ground is the children that we parent and care for. They cannot live with their biological parents for a myriad of reasons. Many have experienced some of the most challenging experiences imaginable and often need very specific specialist support as do those who look after them.* We do have that in common and consequently the Leadership Board has incorporated then into their scope of interest. I suppose I've questions but I'd say that I feel it's a positive step and the two communities together may hold a bigger collective voice and potentially more influence that can benefit children and families.


So, that's quite a thing and I'm intrigued by what the response will be from the adoption community as well as the special guardian community. We guard our distinctions and difference because they matter but will our focus be on our shared experience and goals. No doubt that will be made clear in the fullness of time.

Anyway, the business of the meeting was focused on the gathering of adopters and special guardians hosted by the ASGLB that I blogged about in March. Specifically, we considered five of the points that were drawn out from that meeting. It feels like an interesting time of transition, not always easy of course, but never the less it feels like the questions that are being asked are the ones that I hear families ask as they look to the future. They are not set in stone and more points for discussion and consideration. I asked if I could share them so here they are:


  • Research strategy (the need for current and relevant research to inform practice for support and interventions)


  • Outcomes data and research 


  • Practice around identity work (contact and life story work)
  • Support in school and development of the Virtual School Head role
  • Work with birth families (a statutory duty but with limited research or knowledge of scope or effectiveness of current practice)


As communities they impact us to varying degrees and each of the points can be fleshed with a range of considerations and thoughts. This open and collaborative direction taken by the ASGLB feels positive, no doubt there will be challenges to gathering views but this is where we're at. I apologise for my brevity but any questions please comment or contact me through the usual or unusual routes.





*23,470 children have been adopted in the last 5 years (2013-2017) and 17,250 SGOs were granted over the same period. (Taken from the CVAA paper presented to the ARG)
 

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