Procedure for Life Appreciation Day
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTERThis chapter provides information on Life Appreciation Days for prospective adopters. It explains the aim of the Life Appreciation Day and provides guidance on who should attend.
1. Introduction - What is a Life Appreciation Day?
A Life Appreciation Day is a guided journey of the child's life. It is a meeting arranged for the purpose of:
- Bringing together individuals who have significant knowledge and experience of a child with the purpose of sharing this with prospective adopters, thereby increasing the chance of a shared understanding and the potential for better outcomes for the stability of the placement;
- Collating a chronologically contextualised life story for the child;
- Providing a permanency planning opportunity;
- Highlighting the connection between the factual and emotional chronicle of a child's life;
- Considering issues of contact past, present and for the future; and
- Assisting with planning appropriate and specific support to the child's adoptive placement.
2. What do Life Appreciation Days Achieve?
- They help prospective adopters understand the position of the birth family whilst they were caring for the child. For example to have an appreciation of how external factors can hinder parenting capacity, such as the birth parent's own life experiences, poverty, drugs and alcohol;
- They enable prospective adopters to feel the 'reality' of the child's history and to put this into context;
- They allow those present to consider, as a group, how best to support the child and their adoptive family in the short and long term; and
- They give prospective adopters the opportunity to listen and to absorb the available information and to ask questions of all those attending the Life Appreciation Day.
3. Who are Life Appreciation Days for?
One Adoption will convene Life Appreciation Days for the following children:
- Those over the age of 18 months;
- Those children aged under 18 months who have significant need, have had a previous disruption, or where there has been a history of placement moves; and
- Sibling groups.
4. When Should they be Convened and by Whom?
They should be convened once a match has been identified and prior to this being presented to Adoption Panel.
5. Who Should Chair the Meeting?
Advanced Practitioner /Senior Social Worker/ Senior Adoption Social Worker/Family Finder.
The Chair's' role is to make sure that the day runs smoothly and on time, ensuring that all participants have the opportunity to fully contribute and ask appropriate questions, and that the meeting reflects the child's journey through life.
Life Appreciation Days are very different to general social work meetings.
It is important that the Chair is able to embrace this difference and encourage contributions from everyone, whilst enabling participants to 'stand in the child shoes' and empathise with the child's experiences.
6. Who Should be Invited?
The range of people invited should be carefully considered, and will vary depending on the child's specific circumstances.
- Child's current social worker;
- The prospective adopter/s;
- Adoption social worker; supervising;
- Current carer/s;
- Fostering social worker.
Other possible attendees
- Previous foster carer/s;
- Previous social worker/s;
- Nursery staff;
- Health visitors;
- Medical professionals;
- Therapeutic worker;
- Family Support Workers;
- Contact workers;
- CAFCASS worker.
Any other significant person in the child's life.
The prospective adopter/s, current foster carer, child's social worker and support worker for current foster carer and prospective adopter/s should be present for the whole event. Other participants will be given an attendance time which follows the sequence of when they entered the child's life.
7. Planning the Day
The referral form will need to be completed ASAP by the social worker in conjunction with the family finder, to enable all the necessary preparation work to be undertaken.
The referral form should be forwarded to the Adoption Team Manager Family Finding, who will agree in conjunction with the family finder and social worker, who should chair the meeting and request the support of an adoption advisor to coordinate the meeting arrangements.
The adoption advisor will:
- Consult with the chair and social workers involved about who should be invited to attend the meeting, details of which should be on the referral form;
- Find and book a suitable venue, in discussion with the social worker;
- Send out formal invitations with an information leaflet;
- Prepare a family tree and flow chart of significant events and moves in the child's life, with photographs if possible;
- Act as minute taker;
- Arrange refreshment provision in conjunction with the social work team; and
- Prepare a booklet with the minutes and collated information from the day for the child and the adopters.
8. Children Under 18 Months
It is important the prospective adopters should be given all the relevant information irrespective of the age of the child. However this can be in a different format to a Life Appreciation Day. It is essential as a minimum, that they meet the foster carers in their own home, the medical advisor and any previous workers who have been involved in the case.