9. The social workers for the children
'I think it was positive although I am still not convinced that the children should be made fully aware of why they are there. I explained to the child I accompanied that it was a party and there would be children there who were waiting for a mummy and daddy and parents who were waiting for a child.'
Comment from social worker
Preparation of the children for this event is vital although it's a party it's got a purpose which most parties don't have and we should never deceive children even indirectly. Their foster carers were very experienced and did a lot of the preparation and we worked together. I do think both carers should have been able to come, the front line is the foster carers and their support is vital, how can the child talk to a carer about the event if they weren't there?
Comment from social worker
9.1 The social workers for the children emphasised the importance of preparation and valued the very good organisation of the day which they felt helped it run smoothly. Some felt that there were not enough activities/toys for the younger children and that there should have been a special area for them.
9.2 One social worker referred to a 'sense of fun' which permeated the day. And that allowed the children to feel at ease with so many strangers. Another social worker emphasised that all children are different and there will never be a 'one size' fits all. Some children do not like parties they may remind them of being in families where adults became drunk and out of control. Also some children are abused at 'parties' and therefore there cannot be an assumption that all children can be considered for an activity day.
9.3 The issue of 'hard to place' children was raised by several social workers, this is a difficult term and one social worker suggested perhaps should be substituted for 'children whose needs require a special family'. Although all adoptive families are special in some ways. In England there have specific activity days for these children which the workers thought had advantages, as the families attending had already expressed an interest and the day brought home to them the potential and personality of a child who on paper looked to have limited potential. However it would be unlikely for Scotland to have sufficient numbers of children within a reasonable geographical area. Some social workers felt that the first activity day should have catered more widely for children with additional needs and that there had been missed opportunities to include a small number of children who have been waiting a long time for a family.
9.4 The research by the University of Bristol found that many adopters of children considered that the children had not been well prepared and the children who were least well prepared were most likely to have disrupted placements. The research noted that social workers should;
'Be aware of the development and capacity of individual children with adoption plans. Social workers need to work with children's ambivalence, ensure children understand why they cannot live with their parent, and prepare them for placement. Adoption is a process not an outcome and children need to be helped to understand what is happening in their life. Children stated that they did not understand what was happening to them or why they could not live with their families at the time they were placed for adoption.'