5. Organising and planning an Adoption Activity Day
'Any day which runs so smoothly and looks so effortless has to have been very well organised'
Comment by a prospective adopter.
5.1 The organisation of the day can be divided in to three broad stages.
5. a. Planning in advance and identifying the children.
5.2 The concept of the activity day has been recognised as a helpful method of family finding for children who may wait much longer for a family, for example older children, larger families and children with additional needs.
5.3 This initial event was organised by the West of Scotland Consortium and the North East Consortium and in this event the children all came from the West of Scotland. Work was undertaken by the staff at Scotland's Adoption Register to recruit children awaiting adoption, inform prospective adopters and their social workers, and the social workers and foster carers of the children.
5.4 A steering group was set up to plan the event and part of their role was to prepare for the event and to take part in the briefings.
5.5 The organisation of numbers of children and people was quite complex, there was concern that the event was not too big and not too small. Some of the days in England had hosted up to a hundred people, prospective adopters, foster carers, social workers and children. The steering group wanted this event to be manageable and 20 children were identified with their foster carer, social worker, prospective adopters and some of their social workers also attended. 19 children were identified to attend the day in South West Scotland with ages ranging from 18 months to nine years. 23 Families were identified, with nine coming from English agencies. Approaches were made to agencies in the North of England in order to ensure there would be enough prospective adopters in relation to the number of children. The possible legal and financial complications were acknowledged but it was also noted that a considerable number of cross border placements are being made by agencies.
5.6 The steering group noted that; 'Only two families were referred from Local Authorities which shows a worrying trend in the number of prospective adopters available through LA's.'
A modern secondary school was identified as a suitable venue as it had a selection of large and smaller areas and catering facilities. Separate briefing letters were sent to foster carers, prospective adopters and social workers.
5. b. Organising the process of the day.
5.7 The theme was Pirates and Princesses and children and adults
could come in fancy dress if they chose.
In summary there were volunteers whose roles were to support the day, meet and greet arrivals and help with refreshments. There was a range of activities for the children, including face painting, soft play, crafts and outdoor play.
5.8 The prospective adopters were expected to engage in play with the children, there was limited but appropriate information available to them, and they were advised not to ask personal or intrusive questions. The children were free to play wherever they wanted and to go from one activity to another.
5. c. Follow up to the day.
5.9 All participants were asked to complete questionnaires which were returned and collated by staff at Scotland's Adoption register. The steering group also reflected on the process of the day.
5.10 I attended the day as a volunteer and I was able both to observe and talk with prospective adopters, social workers and foster carers.
5.11 All adults were told of the evaluation and that I was present on the day. I gave all participants a card and invited them to contact me if they wanted a separate discussion. There was a good response from all groups of adults who took part and I had separate interviews with 20 people, foster carers, prospective adopters and social workers. The small advisory group set up to feed into the evaluation met and discussed key themes of the day.
5.12 There were 14 immediate expressions of interest in the children who attended the event .