Response to report that a quarter of adoptive families are 'in crisis'

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Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network said: 'We read today’s report from the BBC and Adoption UK about the number of adoptive families who are in ‘crisis’ with great concern and sadness. The children who are being talked about in the report are the children who thousands of foster carers are looking after every day, and we recognise the difficulties and challenges being described.  Foster carers are finding that the children coming into their care are increasingly traumatised and demonstrating challenging behaviour, and it is therefore inevitable that adopters are experiencing the same thing. This increase in the needs of children along with ever-growing pressures on budgets means that our care systems are too often letting down children and the families who look after them with a lack of funding and support. 

'Although this report has a focus on adoption, the legal status of a child is irrelevant when it comes to the recognition that most children who have come into care will have experienced trauma or neglect, or witnessed drug and alcohol abuse or domestic violence, and therefore will require specialist input and therapeutic care. There can be no financial shortcuts here – there is insufficient funding for CAMHS and other therapeutic inputs and it is scandalous that, in too many cases, post-adoption and post-SGO training and support is extremely poor. 

'It is also essential that prospective adopters are well trained and understand that it is likely that they will be adopting a child who has been traumatised before entering care and who may, for example, be experiencing poor mental health.  This trauma can be compounded through the adoption process as a child’s relationship with family members are brought to an end. We would urge further consideration of long-term fostering which offers permanence for a child while offering some potential contact with birth families. Foster care brings other benefits for children as there is a whole team of well-trained professionals around the child, as well as regular reviews, which means that the need for intervention can be identified earlier and processes can more easily be put in place to meet the needs of the child. 

'Some years ago The Care Inquiry used the phrase that relationships are the ‘golden thread’ when it comes to care. Those relationships are more important than ever, and we believe that foster carers can have a greater role to play in helping children settle in to adoptive (or other permanent) placements. Unfortunately, these relationships are too often ignored or quickly fractured which is why, through our Keep Connected campaign, we are calling on the UK’s governments to introduce guidance and regulations to help fostering services support the bond between foster carer and child as they move to another home.'