It's a Raw Deal for Adopted Children and Their Parents; POOR SUPPORT CAN LEAD TO UNNECESSARY BREAK-UPS
Byline: CLAIRE MILLER
ADOPTED children in Wales are getting inadequate support from services that are supposed to be helping them, according to a report published today.
Poor and inconsistent services for vulnerable youngsters are leading to unnecessary break-ups with their adoptive families, according to the in-depth study by Adoption UK.
The study found that some local authority services are failing to respond to the needs of adopted children, and that schools can be equally dismissive.
Essential services are also limited - in one case a family was told to wait five years before requesting help from Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
Ann Bell, manager of Adoption UK Wales, said the level of support for parents with adopted children varied widely. "It's a bit of a postcode lottery at the moment," she said.
"There's some local authorities that are doing a really good job, but the majority of people are getting a raw deal compared to looked after children. There are a lot more schemes in place for them, such as priority with school places or access to children's mental health services. "The moment they change from being a looked-after child to being adopted the support stops, which is a bit silly as they still have the same needs."
Adoption UK's report, Support Needs of Adoptive Families in Wales, comes at a time when the number of adoptions here is rising - from 212 in 2008 to 256 in 2009. It found that local authorities have varying levels of expertise in relation to adoption and issues involving traumatised children.
The report also highlights concerns over the way schools support adopted children. Despite adopted children having a higher than average rate of Special Education Needs, some schools are dismissive of parents' concerns over their child's requirements.
In addition, schools often report difficulties in managing children at breaktimes "when they are left to their own devices" and the report suggests they may require individual support to help them engage in activities and with other children.
The vast majority of parents say they would have found it helpful to have a booklet to give to school staff outlining the needs of adopted children in the classroom.
The report, based on surveys carried out among adoptive parents and adoption agencies in Wales, also highlights mental health support as a major concern.
It says difficulties in getting a commitment to continue postadoption therapy is delaying Adoption Orders as families worry about the lack of support "when the battle to secure recognition for their needs, let alone any input, is often hard-won in the first place".
It states that, despite thenumber of family break-ups, agencies and professionals are failing to learn lessons from case reviews - research suggests that as many as 20% of adoptive placements break down.
The report makes a number of recommendations, including training for all health and social services professionals relating to children suffering early trauma and neglect; a new booklet for parents to highlight the needs of adopted children in school; and asking for school inspections to consider provision for both looked-after and adopted children. …