Why is this needed?
Peer-to-peer support services not only provide adopters with non-judgemental support informed by personal experience but can also prevent the need to access more intensive services at a later point.
Adopters consistently articulate the value of peer-to-peer support at every stage of the adoption process, to the extent that it was felt that peer to peer support should be given its own section in this report.
Perversely, Peer-to-peer support is an area where there appears to be relatively few examples of services which are well developed, particularly in the statutory sector.
The Cornerstone mentoring model is now available for use by other agencies and OAWY has set this up to be delivered by adopters for adopters. Peer mentoring is a part of the adoption support core offer to families. The mentors are now involved in the preparation training for prospective adopters and are looking to develop training and workshops for adopters.
Coram Kent has seven adopter support groups across the country led by adoptive parents. Apart from some financial support, they have found the groups to need very little support from the agency and are looking to add a monthly social work drop-in alongside each group.
ATV has a ‘one-off’ Mockingbird project for adopters employing similar principles to those used in Mockingbird fostering projects. Called the Mockingbird Adopter Hub Group, a number of adopters have been bought together with a paid Hub Carer who facilitates meetings and events, provides support with issues such as education and hospital visits, and provides some short break care, which is framed as a treat for children rather than respite for parents. Feedback from the group has been very positive with a reduction in the demand for more mainstream services.
AdoptionUK and PAC-UK offer the Parent Consultant Service, a structured approach to mentoring available to adoption agencies and offering an Initial Assessment and a unit of 6 telephone support sessions with a trained and experienced Parent Consultant. PAC-UK also has an extensive programme of training for peer mentors.
The Centre for Adoption Support (Adoption Matters) and PACT have internal buddying schemes.
The lack of established peer-to-peer support and mentoring amongst statutory services responding to this survey was very striking. The long-term value which such services could deliver for relatively little investment, is difficult to calculate, but is surely significant based on the importance which adopters place on learning from each other.
Next: Targeted services