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Adoption Team

We provide parents and education settings with specialist services for children and young people who have been adopted.




What is the Adoption Team?

Our Adoption Team supports early needs identification and specialist intervention among children and young people who are adopted. The Adoption Team provides accessible therapy services for families and education settings as and when needed. Raising awareness and understanding of the behavioural and mental health issues that some children and young people who are adopted may face, encourages parents and education settings to appropriately address those needs.

The majority of adopted children will have experienced neglect or abuse in their early childhood, which will often cause enduring problems such as attachment disorders or challenging behaviour. Adoption support is therefore an area that deserves particular focus, as good, timely support can make the difference to whether an adoptive family thrives or struggles.

Adoption A vision for change, 2016




What is the Adoption Support Fund (ASF)?

The ASF provides funding for the first three years following an adoption. We appreciate that difficulties can arise at any point following an adoption, in particular during adolescence, which is why our adoption support services are available for any duration of time following an adoption through alternative funding sources. Children and young people with adopted status may require support in other areas, such as physical or educational. At EHP we understand this and can provide a holistic approach to supporting children and young people who have been adopted and their families.

Two thirds of parents who have adopted don't know about the support which can be provided and funded by the ASF. There is a fair access limit of £5,000 per family to access specialist therapeutic support, in addition to an amount of £2,500 for specialist assessments. The ASF was set up due to the high risk of adoption breakdowns without the high cost support.

There was too little support available for adopters – an Adoption UK survey in 2012 found that 64% of adopters were not informed about their entitlement to an assessment of need for support. 12 Of those adopters who had an assessment, 81% had support needs identified, but only 56% said that full support was provided. Over half needed therapeutic services, but only 28% reported receiving these.

Adoption A vision for change




Which professionals from EHP are in our Adoption Team?

Our Adoption Team consists of professionals with extensive experience with SEMH needs among children and young people who are adopted, including:

  • Clinical psychologists
  • Counselling psychologists
  • Attachment psychotherapists
  • Educational psychologists
  • Social workers
  • Occupational therapists
  • Mental health workers
  • Assistant psychologists
  • Specialist support workers

Professionals from the wider EHP team can provide specialist assessments when forming part of a multidisciplinary assessment through the Adoption Team. Working as part of a multidisciplinary team means that our specialists can provide input to assessments, interventions and training services. Using professionals who understand the background and potential SEMH challenges experienced by children and young people who are adopted ensures that our Adoption Team provide both reactive and proactive services.


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What are the social, emotional and mental health challenges faced by children and young people who have been adopted?

The social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) challenges faced by children and young people who have been adopted can occur gradually or suddenly and can include:

  • Attachment needs
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Poor global SEMH
  • Emotional distress
  • Challenging conduct caused by an underlying need
  • Anger difficulties
  • Psychological effects of trauma

SEMH needs may intensify at a quick rate due to previous experiences. Backgrounds and risk factors are kept in mind when working with children and young people with adopted status. Children and young people who have been adopted may have complex needs which require swift specialist support.




Why is attachment important?

Attachment is important as it can be the underlying cause of social, emotional and mental health challenges, including behaviour. An individual's attachment needs play a role in current and future relationships, and strong, healthy relationships may be facilitated through identifying and addressing attachment needs as soon as possible. Supporting attachment maximises an individual's potential.

Children are born with a range of innate behaviours to maximise their survival. Among these is attachment behaviour, which allows the child to draw their primary caregivers towards them at moments of need or distress. ...  Early attachment relations are thought to be crucial for later social relationships and for the development of capacities for emotional and stress regulation, self-control and mentalisation. Children and young people who have experienced insecure attachments are more likely to struggle in these areas and to experience emotional and behavioural difficulties. ...  Repeated changes of primary caregiver, or neglectful and maltreating behaviour from primary caregivers who persistently disregard the child's attachment needs, are the main contributors to attachment difficulties. 

NICE - Children's attachment: attachment in children and young people who are adopted from care, in care or at high risk of going into care




What assessments can we provide in relation to attachment?

The assessments we can provide in relation to attachment look at a variety of factors, which may include: parental sensitivity, socioeconomic factors, coexisting mental health problems, educational experience and the consequences of trauma.

  • Story Stem Attachment Profile
  • Child Attachment Interview
  • Adult Attachment Interview
  • Sensory, Attachment and Child Development Questionnaire
  • Strange Situation Procedure
  • Preschool Assessment of Attachment
  • Attachment Q-sort
  • Manchester Child Attachment Story Task

The above list is not exhaustive as the assessment used will depend on the individual child or young person. If you would like a particular assessment to be completed then please discuss this with us prior to the assessment.




What attachment-focused interventions do we provide?

Attachment-focused interventions can take the form of training and therapeutic interventions. Interventions will be decided on a case-by-case basis and adapted to the parents, child and young person's specific situation. Examples of interventions we provide include:

  • Nurture interventions
  • Attachment-based therapy
  • Increasing understanding of attachment and associated behaviours
  • Identifying and addressing cues and expressions of a child or young person's feelings
  • Adapt behaviour
  • Increase mastery of own feelings
  • Group therapeutic play sessions
  • Video feedback programmes
  • Social skills
  • Friendship groups
  • Maintaining positive peer relationships
  • Parent-child psychotherapy
  • Dyadic developmental psychotherapy (DDP)
  • Parenting programmes
  • Sensory Attachment Intervention (SAI)
  • Play therapy
  • The Incredible Years

A detailed background history is important to understanding the context of the attachment difficulties and how best they can be supported.

If, following assessment of attachment difficulties, an intervention is required, refer the child or young person, and their parents or carers, to a service that:

  • Has specialist expertise in attachment difficulties in children and young people and their parents or carers
  • Works with other services, including mental health services for children and young people, education and social care
  • Actively involves children and young people with attachment difficulties in staff training programmes.

NICE - Children's attachment: attachment in children and young people who are adopted from care, in care or at high risk of going into care




What education, health and psychological challenges can be faced by children and young people who are adopted?

Children and young people who are adopted come from a variety of backgrounds meaning that the education, health and psychological challenges faced can include:

  • Vulnerable or resistant to change
  • Difficulties coping with unstructured times, such as playtimes or breaks
  • Incomplete histories
  • Difficulties with relationships
  • Developmental delays (cognitive, physical, speech)
  • Special educational needs
  • Psychological conditions, including high anxiety levels
  • Eating difficulties
  • Low self-esteem
  • Headaches
  • Panic attacks
  • Hypervigilance
  • Identity development

Underlying needs may appear through behavioural actions, or through specialist assessments. It is important to identify and understand needs in order to accurately address them.




Why is early needs identification and intervention important within children and young people who are adopted?

The early identification and intervention of needs within children and young people who are adopted is important due to the possible existence of unidentified or unresolved needs. Addressing needs appropriately before they escalate reduces the negative impact of needs within life.



Next steps

  • Step 1.Interested?
  • Step 2.Request more information
  • Step 3.Commission EHP



Mental health issues are much more prevalent among looked after children and adopted children and young people, and they are also more likely to suffer certain types of mental health issues.

  • They are more likely to have experienced abuse and / or neglect.
  • They are more likely to find it difficult to trust adults and form strong relationships.
  • They are more likely to have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder.
  • They are more likely to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder

It's important to remember that adoption doesn't resolve these issues, and children and young people who are adopted will need access to the same type of support as looked after children.

Counselling in schools: a blueprint for the future, 2016




Who do we provide input to?

Children and young people who are adopted can have specific needs for which they require support. Our Adoption Team provides input to children and young people who:

  • Reject their adoptive parents and families
  • Have poor relationships with their adoptive parents and families
  • Display strong tendencies towards anger, aggression and violent tendencies
  • Demonstrate behaviour which is seen as manipulating and controlling
  • Are stealing
  • Are self-harming
  • Are considering, or have tried, running away
  • Have high levels of anxiety and/or hypervigilance
  • Display extreme emotions, both positive and negative
  • Are withdrawn and isolated
  • Are experiencing severe difficulties at school
  • Are at risk of exclusion

There are many reasons why we would work with a child or young person with adopted status as difficulties can occur instantly or gradually over time. Difficulties may only happen when a young person experiences adolescence or a stressful life event.




What outcomes do we work towards for schools and families?

Our Adoption Team works towards outcomes to benefit children, young people, education settings and families. As our Adoption Team are specialists in the needs faced by children and young people who are adopted, they are able to provide appropriate assessments, interventions, consultancy and training to manage and prevent crises. Outcomes we work towards include:

  • Strengthening the family unit
  • Increasing positive interactions
  • Supporting children and young people to feel happier, safer and more secure
  • Increasing understanding of the child and young person
  • Increased control over anger and aggression
  • Improvement in understanding the impact of behaviour
  • Adaptations, where appropriate, to parenting or teaching styles
  • The use of strategies for addressing problems and defusing situations
  • Improving the family and education experience for all involved

Working towards mental and emotional outcomes maximises learning potential and future life outcomes. Our Adoption Team uses measurable outcomes where possible in order to review performance and efficiency of their input. Reviewing measurable outcome measures supports service development and improvement whilst demonstrating progress.

Although it was early days for some, the almost universal experience of parents using services funded by the ASF was of significant progress having been made. Parents felt children had more self-insight and were better self-regulated, with more settled behaviour at home and at school. Parents themselves had new insights and strategies, had modified their behaviour and were managing their responses better. As a result the family environment was calmer for everyone, and several parents felt that therapy had interrupted a process likely to have led to the placement disrupting.

Adoption support fund: learning from the prototype




Can parents commission our Adoption Team directly?

Yes, parents can commission our Adoption Team's services directly from us. Many of our adoption services are targeted towards parents and families in keeping with our holistic approach. Working in partnership with parents strengthens our input.

For parents wishing to access adoption services through the adoption support fund, please contact your local authority who can signpost you.




[Find out more/get in touch nugget #2]

Which services from the Adoption Support Fund are for or include parents?

  • Therapeutic parenting courses
  • Systemic family therapy
  • Video interaction guidance
  • Play therapy
  • Filial therapy
  • Non violent resistance (NVR) training
  • The Incredible Years

The need for families to have access to post adoption therapeutic support is well recognised.

Department for education - Commissioning Adoption Support - Good Practice Guide




Which screening and assessments can our Adoption Team carry out?

Our Adoption Team can carry out screening and assessments to identify a broad range of needs. To offer a cost effective service we also provide training on how to carry out and interpret specific screening relevant to education settings prior to deciding whether a specialist assessment would be beneficial.

Examples of specialist assessments we provide are:

  • CAMHS, multidisciplinary assessments which explore emotional, behavioural or psychological effects
  • Assessments which are able to identify Autism and Attachment Disorder

Our team are specialists and can provide a broad range of mental health assessments to identify needs.




What interventions do our Adoption Team offer?

Interventions offered by our Adoption Team include individual and group work. Individual and family interventions include:

  • Solution-focussed brief therapy
  • Attachment therapy
  • Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP)
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Mindfulness
  • Play therapy
  • Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Sensory integration processing therapy
  • Non-violent resistance training
  • Life story work alongside a therapeutic intervention
  • Anxiety managing strategies
  • Systemic family therapy
  • Video interaction guidance
  • Dialectical therapy
  • Educational psychotherapy
  • Therapeutic parenting
  • Non violent resistance
  • Filial therapy
  • Extensive therapeutic life-story work
  • Story stem

The following groups are not exclusive to children and young people with adopted status as they would benefit students with similar difficulties:

  • Play therapy
  • Nurture groups
  • Art therapy
  • Understanding and managing emotions
  • Music therapy
  • Building positive relationships
  • Lego therapy
  • Resilience
  • Drama therapy
  • Social and emotional learning
  • Mindfulness

There are many interventions which would benefit children and young people with SEMH. Our professionals can design and deliver specialist bespoke interventions upon request.




What training do our Adoption Team offer?

Our Adoption Team offer a variety of training sessions to parents, education settings, initial teacher training courses and other professionals. Examples of training we provide include:

  • Adoption and SEMH needs
  • Supporting children and young people who have been adopted
  • Attachment
  • Identifying and responding to SEMH needs
  • Adoption and adolescence
  • Environmental factors and how they may affect children and young people who are adopted
  • Emotional coaching
  • Forming and maintaining positive relationships
  • The impact of loss and trauma on the ability to learn
  • Therapeutic strategies
  • The Incredible Years

Schools and other education providers should ensure that all staff who may come into contact with children and young people with attachment difficulties receive appropriate training on attachment difficulties.

NICE: Children's attachment: attachment in children and young people who are adopted from care, in care or at high risk of going into care




How do our Adoption Team support transitions?

Transitions can be a daunting time for children and young people who have been adopted. Our Adoption Team provide transition preparation groups for students and staff to facilitate a well managed transition.




How do our Adoption Team support adopted children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities?

Our Adoption Team support children and young people who have been adopted and have special educational needs and disabilities through providing a broad range of services related to:

  • Assessment
  • Needs identification
  • Interventions
  • Training

SEMH needs are the primary area of concern for our Adoption Team, and through the broader EHP service there are opportunities for swift internal referrals and consultations where necessary.




Can we support an education, health and care plan application for students who are adopted?

Yes, our Adoption Team can support applications for education, health and care plans in addition to other applications.




What is our role when working with children and young people who have been adopted?

SEMH needs in relation to adopted status can occur at any point in time following an adoption, which is why our Adoption Team's role is to provide instant access to our services and professionals. Offering instant access reduces the impact and escalation of SEMH needs.




Who can commission our Adoption Team's services?

Parents, education settings, local authorities charities and other organisations can commission our Adoption Team's services. We work with all education settings including early years, primary, secondary and post-16.

Who we work with

Our specialist services can be accessed by education, health and other professions working with children and young people.

The Independent Sector

This sector remains a key provider for adoption support and LAs need to ensure they have engaged the independent sector in its plans by involving them in the identification of need and gaps and building a community of providers who are kept involved in the future developments of adoption support.

Department for education - Commissioning Adoption Support - Good Practice Guide




Why use our Adoption Team?

There are many reasons to use our Adoption Team as we provide:

  • A consistent, high quality service
  • Effective support attuned to the needs of children, young people and their families
  • Specialist knowledge on adoption, developmental trauma, attachment
  • A variety and choice of adoption services and professionals
  • Evidence-based approaches
  • Cost effective services
  • Immediate access to promote early intervention and preventative support
  • An accessible and timely service
  • Sustainable, long-term outcomes
  • Access to multidisciplinary assessments
  • A comprehensive and integrated multidisciplinary team

We want to ensure every adoptive family has ongoing access to effective, multi-agency support. To achieve this we will:

  • Provide schools and families with access to crucial therapeutic services
  • Provide evidence-based mental health services for children and young people who have been adopted
  • Help schools to understand and meet the needs of children and young people who have been adopted including the surrounding legislation, how designated teachers can support children and young people who are adopted, and ensuring teachers understand the impact of the range of developmental issues, including trauma and loss on children's learning.

Building and developing relationships is key to positive interventions, working within the school means we can use existing relationships to maximise the impact of interventions.

The ASF National Survey showed that most therapy provision, and particularly the more intensive packages of support, was commissioned through spot purchasing. SLAs were also used, often covering multi-modal support including advice, mentoring, counselling, support group and family days as well as therapy and parenting training programmes.

Adoption support fund: learning from the prototype




How are our Adoption Team's services commissioned?

Our value for money Adoption Team's services can be commissioned by parents, education settings, local authorities, charities and other organisations. We achieve the right balance between efficiency, effectiveness and economy through our high quality, bespoke service.

Parents can fund our Adoption Team's services in the following ways:

  • Adoption support fund
  • Self-funding


Next steps

  • Step 1.Interested?
  • Step 2.Request more information
  • Step 3.Commission EHP



Funding

Our services can be funded through a variety of ways.

Getting a good start is crucial. Adopted children aged 2 years old can get free early education and childcare. For adopted children aged 3-and 4-years old the early years pupil premium (EYPP) gives providers of early years education extra funding to support them.

Adoption A vision for change

EHP's Adoption Team is made up of professionals who are specialists when it comes to support the SEMH needs of children and young people who are adopted. Our Adoption Team is instantly accessible to reduce the impact of SEMH needs and facilitate early needs identification and interventions.

Commission EHP

Our specialist multidisciplinary services can be commissioned through a service level agreement and as standalone input.




Get in touch

If you would like to find out more about the services we offer or to book a free initial discussion then please contact us not on 0330 088 8408 or email office@ehp.org.uk

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