Introductions to children by Honey Claws

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									                                                                Guidance for prospective adopters
  and arranging lavish outings during the introduction
  period. This does not create a ‘real life’ experience for
  anyone and raises false expectations for children.
Any difficulties with timing need to be raised, as early
                                                                     Introductions to children
  as possible at any point in the process.

Following this guidance should ensure that the process of
being introduced to your new child is an enjoyable and life
enhancing experience for all involved.
                                                              Picture by
                                                              Stevie aged 4
For information about what happens next ask your
supervising social worker for a copy of our information
leaflet ’Prospective adopters guide - from placement to
Adoption Order’




  If you require any information about adoption
 services in Warrington, please contact the team:

Address: Adoption Team, St Werburgh’s,
         Boswell Avenue, Warrington WA4 6BB

Telephone: 01925 457104
FAX: 01925 457107
Email: fostering.adoption@warrington.gov.uk
Website: www.warrington.gov.uk
Why are introductions important?                                  to the original plan because this is what the child or
                                                                  children need.
                                                                Ensure that the child has a favourite toy, comforter,
Introducing children and prospective adopters is the first         blanket or other familiar item that they can take to the
stage in a new relationship that is hoped to last for life.        new home with them to help them feel at home.
Getting the placement right is as important as anything that     Provide as much continuity as possible, everyone
we do on behalf of looked after                                    involved should continue to share information about
children and so every stage needs                                  the child’s favourite foods, bedtime routines, favourite
to be carefully planned.                                           interests and toys, likes and dislikes etc.
Introductions and first meetings                                Acceptance that children have a right to be upset by
are the beginning of the bonding                                   change and loss and a willingness from the adults
process. Getting it wrong at this                                  involved to help them deal with those feelings.
stage can hinder the progress. The                              
introduction programme will be                                  
carefully organised and agreed                                  What might hinder the introductions?
                                                                
during the placement planning meeting, which, together with
                                                                Starting the introductions at weekends when social
yourselves, includes your supervising social worker, the fos-
                                                                   workers are not as easy to contact to offer advice and
ter carers and their supervising social worker, the child’s
                                                                   support
social worker and anyone else who is likely to be actively
                                                                Not keeping to the plan
involved in the process.
                                                                Not considering the feelings of the other peoples
                                                                  involved
What is the purpose of introductions?                            Introducing too many new people to the child, too
                                                                   soon. The introductory period should only include the
                                                                   immediate family; other relatives, friends etc. can be
                                                                   gradually introduced when the child is settled
To enable the child or children to transfer their
                                                                Lack of preparation of any of the participants,
  attachments to their new family
                                                                   particularly the child, about the process of introductions
To give the child and the new family time to get to know
                                                                Lack of suitable arrangements or support for other
  each other so that they feel comfortable in each
                                                                   children likely to be affected by the introductions, such
  others company
                                                                   as, other foster children, birth or adoptive children of
To help the new family feel confident about caring for
                                                                   the adopters and/or siblings of the child being placed
  the child or children
                                                                Buying lots of gifts and treats for the child or children
To give the foster family and the prospective adopters
                                                                the opportunity to exchange information about the
What will help the introductions
                                                                day-to-day care and routines of the child
to work well?
                                                              To help the child feel confident about moving to the
                                                                new family
A detailed introductory programme with a clear               To give everyone involved time to deal with
    timetable agreed and kept to by everyone involved            practicalities, such as, registering with a GP,
If any changes need to be made, unless they are                purchasing equipment, sending out various
   urgent, they should be agreed by all parties, preferably      notifications
   at the introductions review meeting                         To allow the child or children time to say goodbye to
A family book and/or video which can be given to the           their foster family
   child or children, before you meet them.                    And last - but not least, to ensure that everyone
Flexibility and a commitment to make the placement             involved is happy to proceed to the next stage
    work by everyone involved
Sensitivity to other people’s feelings, at what is an
   emotional time for yourselves, the child or children and
   the foster family
                                                               What is the introduction process?
 Avoiding Christmas and other emotive times, such as
   birthdays, anniversaries etc                                The child’s social worker and foster carer will begin to
Keeping outings simple and realistic, such as, a walk in     prepare the child to move into your family, using various
   the park or shopping for food                               methods including your family book and/or video if you have
Sticking to the child's established routines, customs and    prepared one.
   habits, even when these don’t match the prospective
   adopters lifestyle or expectations. If anything needs to    The first meeting between you and the child or children you
   be changed, it should happen slowly, over time and at       have been matched with, will usually take place immediately
   the child’s pace                                            after the placement planning meeting. This will be a brief
Extra support made available to the foster carer, before     meeting at the foster carers home. The visits will gradually
   during and after the introductions                          increase until the child eventually
Willingness by everyone involved with the child or           moves into your home.
   children to be sensitive and supportive before, during
   and after the introductions, regardless of their personal   Timescales for introductions vary
   feelings                                                    according to the age and particular
The introduction period must be at the child’s pace as       needs of the child, but as a rough
   far as possible. Sometimes changes need to be made          guide, from our experience:
A baby under the age of one year would need                   Gradually increasing the length of time the child spends
  an introductory period of approximately 7 days                      with the prospective adoptive family until the child or
A toddler aged from one to three years would need                   children are ready to make the final move
  introductions of about 7-15 days                              The child's social worker is required to be present
Introductions for a child of three to six years would be            when the child makes the final move from the foster
  around 2 –3 weeks                                                   carers to your home. The actual details of how this
Children aged over six years and sibling groups would               move is carried out will be decided at the mid-point
  need from three to eight weeks.                                     review meeting.
                                                                
This is a very rough guide because all children and             During the introductory period, at least one meeting to
prospective adoptive families differ greatly. Introductions     review the introductions will take place and should include
may be longer or shorter, depending on the individual            the child’s social worker, the prospective adopters, the
Circumstances.                                                  foster family and the respective supervising social workers.
                                                                Older children can be included, for at least part of the
Depending on the needs of the child or children plans for                                meeting, if appropriate. The purpose
introductions will include the following:                                                of the review meeting is to check
                                                                                         that everyone is satisfied with the
Visits by you to the child in the foster home                                          progress being made, to make any
Visits which cover different times of day and events,                                  changes to the introduction
  such as, meal times, bath and bed times                                                programme if needed, to address
Outings for the child with the prospective adopters.                                   any issues that may have emerged
  Initially this will usually include the foster carer. Trips                            and to ensure that everyone is
  should be kept simple and inexpensive.                                                 happy to proceed.
A first visit to the prospective adopters family home by                               
  the child with the foster carer. During this visit no other   We know from experience that the introductory period is
  children or adults should be present, with the exception      emotionally demanding and very tiring, for everyone
  of the adopters own children                                  involved. It can be a very stressful time, with lots of highs
Longer stays by the child at the prospective adopters’        and lows. It is important that you look after yourself during
  home, during the latter stages this may include an            this period, take some ‘time-out’ if needed. But most
  overnight stay                                                importantly you should take the introductions steadily, keep
Leaving toys and other belongings at the new home             to the plan and you must go at the child’s pace—not yours! 
  during the introductions                                      

								
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