Published on 12 October 2016
A partnership that is leading the way to a better future for children in care in Sunderland has been praised by a leading national voice on adoption.
Sunderland City Council is working with the University of Sunderland on a wide ranging Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), to ensure young people in the care system, who are waiting to find their permanent home, are given the best possible support to deal with their social and emotional needs.
National adoption advisor Al Coates has described Sunderland's efforts as 'very positive and proactive', during National Adoption Week, which takes place between October 17 and 23.
Al, who is part of the Department for Education Adoption Support Advisory Panel, said: "Sunderland as an authority are very keen to engage, and have been particularly proactive in their use of the Adoption Support Fund, which is set up to provide support to families that are going through the adoption process.
"It really is fantastic to see the huge effort that they are putting in to the adoption support they offer, and that can only be a positive thing for the young people and parents they work with.
"They really do want to take advantage of all of the tools available to them, and that is borne out by their work with the University of Sunderland, which is great to see. Both appear to be committed to growing their knowledge base and delivering the best outcomes for young people in the care system, and I would like to applaud them for their hard work – it really is very positive."
The partnership between the council and the university has seen the adoption department's ten members of social work staff take part in a rigorous training programme, designed to equip them with the skills they need to support children through what can be hugely daunting phases of their life, as they move through the care system.
The university is also working with the council to capture memories of young people in care, taking audio recordings that can help them to understand their own personal story when they are old enough to know they have been adopted. Evaluation is also being carried out by an expert from the university, Stephanie Hunter, to give valuable feedback on what the city council is doing well in terms of its care for young children waiting to be adopted, as well as reviewing the after-care support that is given to families who do adopt.
Ms Hunter, who was supported by strong leadership from her manager Margaret Parsons, to deliver the work, said: "The work we are doing with Sunderland City Council is making a huge difference to the lives of young children who have already had to deal with the often traumatic experience of being parted from their birth family.
"Sunderland City Council's willingness to take on board feedback, put changes in place quickly, and a general openness and eagerness to learn has been absolutely fantastic to see. I truly believe the work we are doing in partnership is unlike anything happening in other areas of the country, and as a result, I believe young children and adoptive families in Sunderland are receiving some of the best after-care that is available anywhere in England."
Councillor Louise Farthing, portfolio holder for Children's Services at Sunderland City Council, said: "Across the board at the council, our team is one that challenges itself to achieve more, and I want to credit our hard working adoption team who do their best to provide excellent, innovative and responsive services to adopted children and their families in Sunderland. The partnership with the university is about us both working together to learn from each other and to be the best that we can be to provide the best futures for the children in care in our city. It's fantastic to see that recognised by somebody of such renown in his field."
To find out more about adopting with Sunderland City Council, visit http://www.sunderland.gov.uk/adoption.