This September, we welcomed more than sixty attendees from around the UK to our free annual agency members' reception, held at the Coram campus in London.

The annual reception is open to all CoramBAAF agency members. It provides attendees with the latest information on national fostering and adoption policy, giving insight into current issues that affect social workers, childcare professionals, foster carers and adoptive parents. It’s also an opportunity to find out how CoramBAAF represents members and discover how we ‘go the extra mile’ in giving the best fostering and adoption advice and support.

Discussion from the annual reception

Paul Curran (Chair of the CoramBAAF board of directors) hosted the day, which began with national policy updates from Andrew Christie (Chair of the Adoption Leadership Board) and John Simmonds (CoramBAAF’s Director of of Policy, Research and Development).

Andrew Christie led a discussion on securing permanence for children in care. His talk included discussion of a number of key points:

  • An overview of adoption trends: an increase in care order applications; more children are entering the adoption system than adopters.
  • Support for adoptive families: being aware of existing resources; asking how support for adoptive families can be improved.
  • Being clear about what works: gathering evidence to help commission effective assessment and therapy.

John Simmonds examined how the government’s ongoing Fostering Stocktake could make a positive difference. He identified a number of challenges:

  • How to ensure that ‘intended moves’ are identified as such and planned in a way that minimises disruptive impact.
  • How to reduce the number of placement breakdowns among young people, by identifying factors that make it difficult for them to settle, and providing positive opportunities.
  • How to ensure that younger children who are not adopted or do not return home are quickly settled into long term placements.

The chairs of four of CoramBAAF’s national advisory committees (Health, Legal, Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Perspectives, and Research) each gave short presentations to bring alive how CoramBAAF’s members inform and influence the organisation’s work including:

  • developing national guidance on health issues such as smoking in foster homes
  • ensuring that the insight of BME professionals informs our work
  • interrogating legal matters including case law and national legislation
  • providing a national forum for the leading researchers to share learning.

Lots of ideas were generated in small group discussions including suggestions for new Practice Notes, research and training. Encouragingly, attendees wanted another similar event next year, and we are pleased to announce that plans are already underway!

From the CoramBAAF members' reception - photographs by Chris Atkins

Top left: Steve O’Loughlin (Chair, Black Minority Ethnic Perspectives Advisory Committee), bottom left: John Simmonds, right: Lynn Snow (Chair, Health Group Advisory Committee).
Photographer: Chris Atkins