Child Appreciation Days
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTERChild Appreciation Days are a tool to enable professionals to help 'bring a child to life' for prospective permanent carers. They are a means of sharing a great deal of information in a relatively short space of time and are probably best described as a 'guided journey through a child's life, which must always be mindful of how the child sees it' (Argent 2006)
1. What do They Achieve?
- To help professionals and most importantly prospective permanent carers understand the position of the birth family whilst they were caring for the child. For example to have an appreciation of how external factors can hinder parental capacity, such as their own life experiences, poverty, drugs and alcohol;
- To enable prospective permanent carers to feel the 'reality' of the child's history and to put this history within the context of the present and the future;
- To consider as a group how best to support a child and their permanent family in the future for example offering strategies of dealing with difficult situations or identifying support networks, which may not have already been identified;
- To give prospective permanent carers the opportunity to listen and to absorb all of the available information and to ask questions of those attending the child appreciation day. Ultimately it will enable prospective permanent carers to determine whether of not they wish to pursue the placement of the child.
2. Who are Child Appreciation Day's for?
Walsall Adoption Team will convene a Child Appreciation Day for the following children; for children over the age of 18 months, for children under 18 months if there has been a history of significant placement moves, if a child of any age has had a previous placement disruption and in every incidence where more than child is to be placed as part of sibling group either in the same placement or separately. If children from the same sibling group are to be placed separately, they should each have a Child Appreciation Day.
3. When Should They be Convened and by Whom?
As a general guiding principle, a Child Appreciation Day will be convened once a matching meeting has been convened and a date has been set for the match to be presented to Walsall Adoption Panel. The Child Appreciation Day must be convened prior to the match being presented to Walsall Adoption Panel.
The child's family finder will be responsible for co-ordinating the organisation of the Child Appreciation Day; this will include booking the venue, the chair and the minute taker, organising refreshments and organising the invite list.
The child's social worker will be responsible for preparing in advance a family tree and a flow chart of significant events/moves in a child's life. This will need to be sent to the chair of the meeting 7 days prior to the meeting.
The family support officer located in the adoption team will be responsible for preparing photographs and a video in advance of the meeting so these can be shared on the day.
All attendees will be responsible for reading files; records etc. about the child before the day and will come prepared to talk about their experience of the child and or birth family.
The chair of the meeting who will either be the manager of the adoption team or a senior practitioner from the adoption team will be responsible for ensuring the day runs smoothly and on time, will ensure all participants have the opportunity to speak, will ensure the prospective carers have the opportunity to ask questions and most importantly will ensure the day takes all participants on a conducted journey through the life of the child.
4. What Happens at a Child Appreciation Day?
A child appreciation day will generally follow the agenda below;
- The history of the child's birth parents and their own experience of being parented taking into consideration cultural, racial and religious differences;
- The child's pre and post birth experiences, identifying any positives or particular strengths of the birth family;
- Links should be made between any abuse or neglect experienced by the child and how this can impact on development for a child;
- The circumstances of the child's reception into care;
- The child's life in care, particular importance should be given to any placement moves and identifying different parenting styles the child may have experienced;
- Why is this child being placed for adoption?
- What have been the positives in the child's pre-care experiences?
- How has all of the above impacted on the child's attachment history and their ability to form new attachments?
- A time slot will be allocated to show a video and photographs of the child;
- The day will close with a summary by the chair and any reflections of other participants.
The bookings for Child Appreciation Days should be made with Administrative staff based at the adoption team. There will be two slots a month allocated to Child Appreciation Days, both of which will be on Thursdays from 10am to 2pm. The venue will either be the Adoption Team or the Training Room at Essington. Please see attached sheet for list of dates over next calendar year.
5. Who Should Attend a Child Appreciation Day?
Essential for the meeting;
- The chair;
- The minute taker;
- Prospective permanent carers and their link social worker;
- Social Worker for the child;
- Family finding social worker;
- Previous social worker for the child;
- Current foster carers;
- Any previous foster carers;
- Independent Reviewing officer for the child.
Optional for the meeting;
- Teachers/play leaders;
- Health visitors/ school nurse;
- Social workers for foster carers;
- Foster carer's extended family;
- Play scheme workers;
- Contact supervisors;
- Outreach workers;
- Therapeutic worker linked to either the child or the birth family;
- Members of the extended birth family (if appropriate and risk assessment has been undertaken);
- Any other significant adult in the life of the child.
The family finding social worker will liaise with the chair of the Child Appreciation Day to decide whether to allocate slots for people to attend or to invite everyone at the same time. This will be dependant on the number of people involved, the complexity of the case and the availability of those invited. Generally speaking it is advisable to allocate participants a specific time to come and share their experiences and observations as this will enable the prospective family time to absorb the information that each participant is bringing.
6. What Happens After the Child Appreciation Day?
Following the meeting, the chair and the minute taker will ensure the minutes are available for distribution within 3 working days.
The prospective permanent carers and their link social worker will meet within 5 working days; the carers will then indicate to their link social worker whether they wish to continue with the proposed match and placement of the child. If the answer is yes the normal procedure for matching children with families will apply.
If this answer is no, the carers will be given support by their link worker to ascertain the reasons for their decision.