Following the Government’s latest advice about how best to respond to Coronavirus, please be advised that all AFA staff are now working from home but can still be reached in all the usual ways for advice and support.
We know that practitioners and agencies are under enormous pressure maintaining critical services for vulnerable children, and that there are particular challenges for children who are looked after and their families and carers. Although we have postponed face-to-face meetings, we will arrange online discussions for the forums and consortia so that practitioners have the opportunity to discuss the situation with colleagues and share ideas and solutions that ensure effective care and planning for children is still provided.
The information below summaries some of the latest things that are are happening but clicking on the button below will take you to our dedicated COVID-19 items for full information.
AFA Scotland provides many continuous professional development opportunities for social workers and related professionals which include specialised workshops and conferences, commissioned training and consultancy, specialised courses, and practice sessions. Individual agencies or groups of agencies can commission training on a topic that has a particular importance for them; our approach would be flexible with training materials tailored to meet individual needs.
Our training events have been listed on this page and you can use the filter view to display the types of event you are interested in or the quicklist that will expand to show you the content.
If you would be interested in commissioning any of these events “in-house” for your agency, please do get in touch. If you would like to see what upcoming events we have scheduled click here.
Adoption and fostering social workers have a clear role in assessing and supporting foster carers and adopters. The ability to keep children’s safety at the core of these processes is paramount. The child protection reform programme provided the framework for the protection of children in Scotland for all aspects of public and private life, including family placement. This workshop will consider the child protection context focusing on the needs of children, helping carers to manage disclosures and caring for children who have been sexually abused. Managing allegations will also be considered.
Date: Tuesday 19 May, 2020 POSTPONED TO 12 NOVEMBER 2020
Time: 09.45am - 4.00pm
Venue: Park Inn by Radisson, 139-141 West George Street, Glasgow
A vital competence for the practitioner is providing a well-written report which can accelerate the progress of a child’s plan through Children’s Hearings and Court. The quality of the social work report is the single biggest factor in determining the outcome of a Hearing or Court decision. Learn about common pitfalls, complaints from decision makers and poor habits that can obstruct social work planning from moving forward. Our workshop offers interactive worked examples, referring to research, legislative requirements and promising practice. For the worker who is looking to ensure the accuracy, proportionality and relevance of reports, this workshop is a must.
For further details and to download the booking form, please click here
This course focuses specifically on foster care, considering all aspects of the assessment required for people embarking on the fostering task. As well as considering the key tasks involved in the assessment, it will help assessors identify the capacities that foster carers will require in order to provide safe, nurturing care to children and young people. It will consider the theories around what supports good placements and will use case material to explore what skills workers will need to use in assessments.
Date: Friday 19 June, 2020
Venue: Double Tree by Hilton, Dundee
Please note, bookings made before 31 March 2020, will receive an early bird discount of 10%
With decision making about continuing contact remaining one of the most complex and contested areas of practice, the focus for this year's conference will be on the child's relationship with their birth family
during and after the Permanence process. The conference will bring together an outstanding group of speakers to highlight what research and practice tells us works best for the child and what the legal considerations are, in order to inform and guide practitioners involved in making and applying the
decisions in this highly emotive area of permanence and adoption. Speakers on the day will include:
Sheriff Aisha Anwar, Sheriff, Glasgow and Strathkelvin Sheriff Court - will provide a view from the bench
Professor Elsbeth Neil, UEA - foremost academic in this field who will discuss her longitudinal study, Contact after Adoption
Dr Katherine Edward, Clinical Psychologist - will return due to popular demand to share her thoughts from the child and family's perspective.
Jackie McRae, Practice & Partnership Lead, Children’s Hearings Scotland who will look at considerations in decision-making in children’s hearings
The day will again be chaired by Lynda J Brabender QC, who specialises in family and child law and public law as it relates to children. For more information and to download a booking form, please click here
Contact is a critical aspect to progressing permanence planning for children. This interactive workshop is an opportunity for practitioners to consider such a complex issue. Legal framework, research and good practice will be explored through real life scenarios.
Workers will gain a comprehensive and in-depth knowledge of the types of contact, purpose of contact and assessments needed to be done at the various stages of the permanence process from the Children’s Hearings decisions to post order contact. This is a practical and informed workshop that deals with the often frustrating challenges workers face when dealing with contact.
Date: 23 April 2020
Venue: Foxglove Offices, The Shore Training Suite, 14 Links Place, Edinburgh
In Scotland, it takes on average over 2 years between a decision for permanence being made and a legal order being granted. This is too long in the life of a child.
This workshop will tackle reasons for drift and delay and importantly what we can do to reduce these.
Delegates will have a safe and informed forum where they can share views and experiences with other workers by taking part in group work, case scenarios and discussion. Plenary sessions will provide up-to-date factual information on the responsibilities of all of us in promoting our individual role in taking control of these timeframes.
Innovatively, delegates are invited to submit beforehand anonymised case experiences so that a practical solution can be explored to see how the system can be child driven.
Looking at case planning from the outset, information recording, report writing, preparing for and presenting at Children’s Hearings and Courts, decisions about contact and moving to permanence, court decisions, research and theory and understanding legal requirements will inform and enable delegates to find the best way forward for children and families.
This workshop is as suitable for the seasoned practitioner as for those new to the field, and for those who specialise in Permanence as well as the worker who may occasionally deal with such cases.
It will also be of invaluable interest to Safeguarders, panel members, foster carers and anyone involved in promoting and planning for permanence for children.
For further information and to download a booking form, please click here
Designed for practitioners and managers working in adoption and fostering, it considers all elements involved in the crucial task of undertaking thorough and robust assessments of prospective carers, from initial enquiry to presentation at panel.
Following the publication of the new PAR-S template that replaces the form F (Adoption and Permanence), we are running a two-alternative workshop (1-day and 2-day) to support workers to make best use of the new materials.
(1-day workshop) - 19 February, 2020 - Foxglove Offices, The Shore Training Suite, 14 Links Place, Edinburgh
The one-day workshop is targeted at workers who are experienced in making assessments using the previous form. It will provide an opportunity to update and refresh thinking about the assessment process, become familiar with the new PAR-S format and consider how it can be adapted if necessary to particular situations. To download a booking form, click here
(2-day workshop)- 25 & 26 February, 2020 - Radisson Blu Glasgow, 301 Argyll Street, Glasgow
The two-day workshop is targeted more towards those who are relatively new to undertaking assessments of prospective adoptive parents or permanent carers, and will provide an opportunity to develop knowledge, skills and practice in completing these assessments using the PAR-S template. To download a booking form, click here
Date: Tuesday 4 February, 2020
Venue: Foxglove Offices/Gf2, 14 Links Place, Edinburgh EH6 7EZ
Life story work with children who are fostered or adopted is universally recognised as fundamental to helping them understand their history and form a positive sense of identity. This in turn can provide the protective factor of a coherent story as a foundation for better emotional health in adulthood. Despite its importance, in today’s pressurised working environment it has become increasingly difficult to give this area of work the priority it deserves. This workshop will help busy practitioners think about what life story work means in their work setting and how best to go about it. The emphasis will be on providing practical ideas and techniques for social work staff undertaking this work. For further information and to download a booking form, please click here
Date: Thursday 16 January, 2020
Venue: Park Inn by Radisson Glasgow, 139-141 West George Street, Glasgow G2 2JJ
The role of the supervising social worker is a complex one, with many different elements including managerial, supervisory, educative and support functions. This workshop provides supervising social workers with the opportunity to consider how the role has evolved, the various strands of their work with foster carers and how to support and challenge foster carers in supervision. Ways of responding to concerns about the quality of care will also be considered.
For further information and to download our booking form, please click here
Date: Wednesday 25 March, 2020
Venue: Foxglove Offices, The Links Training Suite, 14 Links Place, Edinburgh EH6 7EZ
Cost: £110.00 + VAT
Chairing adoption and fostering panels require a key set of knowledge, skills and values which are essential to promoting positive outcomes for children.
The business of panels is complex, they make recommendations about the adoption and permanence plans for children, approve foster carers and adopters and consider matches. They also oversee the reviews of foster carers and adopters. In addition, the provisions of the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 allow any agency decision to be reviewed or ‘appealed’ and this also falls under the remit of these panels. Whilst experience of chairing other meetings is helpful, there are unique aspects to chairing panels which will form the basis of this workshop.
For further information and to download our booking form, please click here
The Secure Base Model devised by Gillian Schofield and Mary Beek provides a positive framework for therapeutic caregiving to help children and young people move towards greater security and builds resilience.
This workshop provides an introduction to the key dimensions of the Secure Base Model and specific tools to assess the needs of children and young people in the looked after system and the support needs of those who care for them. Its use in the assessment of foster carers and adopters will also be considered. It is suitable for fostering and adoption social work managers, children's social workers and managers.
For more information and to download a booking form click here
Course dates Venue Cost
Module One: 11, 12 & 13 November 2019 Edinburgh (tbc) £2885 + VAT= £3462.00
Module Two: 20, 21 & 22 January 2020
Module Three: 16, 17 & 18 March 2020
This post qualifying course is aimed at social workers and managers in children and families’ teams, family placement teams as well as other specialist settings across the statutory, voluntary and independent sector. Applicants will require the support of their employer to attend as well as validate their work. It is imperative that sponsoring agencies ensure their nominated students have the motivation, capacity and commitment to complete the course.
The course is at MSc Level 11 and attracts an award of 60 credits (postgraduate certificate) which can be taken forward to further study. The course is validated by Strathclyde University.
The introductory session for students and their managers will be on the 21st October 2019. The course requires attendance at three taught modules of three consecutive days per module between November 2019 and March 2020. Final assignments will be submitted in May 2020. Assessment will be on the basis of three written assignments as well as an assessed observation in the workplace. Comprehensive feedback is available to students. A student handbook will provide all the required information.
Date: Wednesday 6 November, 2019
Time: 10.00am – 4.30pm
Venue: Jurys Inn, Glasgow
Member Rate: □ £110.00 + VAT (corporate members only)
Non-Member Rate: □ £150.00 + VAT (non corporate members and NHS health boards)
Individual Member Rate □ £90.00 + VAT
The work of the Stand Up For Siblings (SUFS) project has done a great dealt to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining relationships between brothers and sisters in the care system - but there are significant challenges for social workers when trying to assess the quality of those relationships, particularly in the context of making plans for permanent placement. Where a placement together cannot be achieved for siblings, social workers are tasked with trying to achieve the best permanent options for each child whilst trying to maintain a meaningful ongoing relationship for those children and their siblings. Courts and judges are urging social workers to be more creative about how they seek to preserve sibling bonds.
The seminar will give practitioners the opportunity to hear about updated practice guidance on working with siblings and on assessing their relationships and be introduced to some of the new tools to use in this work. Shelagh Beckett, author of CoramBAAF's newly published Good Practice Guide ‘Beyond Together or Apart’ will present her work alongside inputs from Dr Chris Jones from Strathclyde University, who has led the SUFS work, and Karen Morrison from the STAR project which provides an inspiring example of how relationships can be successfully maintained.
For more information and to download a booking form please click here
Date: Thursday 3 October 2019
Time: Registration: 9.30am
Conference: 10.00am – 4.30pm
Venue: Apex Quay Hotel, Dundee
Member Rate: □ £190.00 + VAT (corporate members only)
Non-Member Rate: □ £230.00 + VAT (non corporate members and NHS health boards)
Individual Member Rate □ £170.00 + VAT
Mental health difficulties can affect children and adults from all walks of life – but looked after and adopted children are more likely to be affected, often due to their difficult early experiences. Health and social work professionals do a valuable yet challenging job of supporting these children, but the area of mental health can feel like a complex labyrinth. With demands on health and social care increasing, and a new emphasis being placed on the importance of children’s mental wellbeing, the conference will consider how health professionals and social workers can best assess, plan and deliver services that encourage and support good mental health.
Karen Aldred and Helen Rodwell, the two authors of the new CoramBAAF publication ‘Supporting the mental health needs of looked after and adopted children’, will present their work and lead discussion focussing on how practitioners can gather crucial information to help understand a child’s difficulties and plan how to meet their needs. Dr Helen Minnis, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Glasgow University, will speak about her extensive work with children who have experienced early adversity, and the way this learning can inform the way we work with children and their carers. Other contributors to be confirmed.
For more information and to download a booking form please click here
Tuesday 17 September 2019
Park Inn by Radisson, 139-141 West George Street, Glasgow
The role of the minute taker in adoption and fostering panels is a crucial one. Adoption and fostering panels are underpinned by specific legal and regulatory requirements. Therefore, minute takers need to have a sufficient understanding of these requirements in order to produce a minute that is relevant, clear and appropriate.
This workshop is for administrative staff who take minutes for adoption and fostering panels. To download a booking form please click here
Hearing the child in adoption and fostering
Date: Friday 14 June, 2019
Venue: Double Tree by Hilton, Dundee
The focus this year will be the child in the permanence process. We will discuss creating an environment where children feel able to speak out; where their views and needs are valued and how adults and systems can adapt to keep our focus firmly on the child’s perspective. Legal principle, research findings, medical knowledge and good practice insight will inform and support delegates in contributing to a process which is truly child centre.
Speakers will include:
The Rt Honourable Lord Carloway, Lord President of the Court of Session
Professor Judith Masson - World renowned academic will talk about her recent research study on outcomes for children from care proceedings.
Dr Katherine Edward, Chartered and Clinical Psychologist, KEE Consultancy - Child psychologist with many years’ experience working with children and appearing as a witness to assist courts in reaching child centred decisions
Thomas Carlton, Practice Support Manager, Independent Care Review Secretariat - A care experienced adult who will provide a unique perspective of his professional and personal observations.
Dr Christine Jones, Senior Lecturer, School of Social Work & Social Policy, University of Strathclyde - Her research has looked at barriers to permanence for disabled children. She will address the need to seek the views of disabled children and those with a communication impairment.
Irina Beaton, Senior Solicitor, Scottish Child Law Centre - Will speak about how the Centre provides legal advice and support to children who approach them for help.
John Hall, Solicitor, Hall Norrie Warden - Will give the perspective of the curator ad litem
Melissa Hunt, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, SCRA - Melissa will share methods adopted by SCRA to make sure the child’s voice is heard, particularly in Hearings.
The day will again be chaired by Lynda J Brabender QC, who specialises in family and child law and public law as it relates to children.
To download a booking form please click here
A workshop for new adoption and fostering panel members
Facilitator: Ravinder Kaur
Date: Tuesday 18 June 2019
Venue: Apex Haymarket Hotel, Edinburgh
Cost: Member Rate £110.00 + VAT
The Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 provides the overarching framework for adoption and fostering panels in Scotland. Panels make key recommendations which affect the lives of children, foster carers and adopters. Many of these recommendations have life-long consequences for those involved. It is therefore important that panel members have both an understanding of the role of panel as well having an opportunity to consider their contribution to this process. This workshop will reflect the updated Effective Adoption and Fostering Panels in Scotland good practice guide.
This workshop is aimed at new adoption and fostering panel members, panel advisers and it may also be of interest to new medical and legal advisers. To download a booking form please click here
Facilitators: Rhona Pollock & Helen Johnstone
Date: Monday 25 March, 2019
Venue: The Salutation Hotel, 34 South Street, Perth then
Perth Sheriff Court, Tay Street, Perth
Start Time: 09.30 – 4.00pm - (refreshments & lunch will be provided)
This workshop is a FIRST. It will provide delegates with the opportunity to learn about being a witness and then actually putting that learning into practice on the day in Court. Delegates will spend the morning finding out about what is required of them as witnesses and studying a case scenario; lunch will be provided in the hotel and then delegates will walk 100yards to Perth Sheriff Court where a court room has been set aside for a mock proof to take place. Delegates will give evidence, being examined and cross examined by both Rhona and Helen. The “Court” will then make a decision based on the evidence heard.
This will be an informal, supportive and informative day giving workers the knowledge, skills and confidence needed for Court appearances. It will be suitable for anyone who is ever called as a witness and wants to make the Court experience as effective and painless as possible.” For further information and a booking form please click here
This unique course is aimed at social workers and managers in children and families’ teams, family placement teams as well as other specialist settings across the statutory, voluntary and independent sector. Applicants will require the support of their employer to attend as well as validate their work. It is imperative that sponsoring agencies ensure their nominated students have the motivation, capacity and commitment to complete the course.
The course will be delivered alongside the validation process from Strathclyde University at MSc Level 11 and once validated will attract an award of 60 credits (postgraduate certificate) which can be taken forward to further study. Agencies will need to be confident that their nominated student can study at master’s level.
The introductory session for students and their managers will be on the 3rd June 2019. The course requires attendance at three taught modules of three consecutive days per module between June 2019 and October 2019. Assessment will be based on assignments as well as a ‘training for trainers’ assessment. Comprehensive feedback is available to students. A student handbook will provide all the required information.
Module One: The Kinship Care Context in Scotland
Module Two: The Child in Kinship Care
Module Three: Assessing and Supporting Kinship Carers
Course dates Venue Cost
Module One: 10,11 & 12 June 2019 Edinburgh £2,745 + VAT = £3294.00
Module Two: 19, 20 & 21 August 2019
Module Three: 28, 29 & 30 October 2019
For further information, please download the flyer here
For an application form, please download here
The role of the minute taker in adoption and fostering panels is a crucial one. Panels are underpinned by specific legal and regulatory requirements. This means that minute takers need to have enough of an understanding of these requirements in order to produce a minute that is relevant, clear and appropriate.
This workshop will consider the current research around both adoption disruptions and disruptions in permanent foster placements. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about the latest research as well as share experiences and practice with workers from different agencies. It is aimed at team managers across family placement teams and social workers in both fostering and adoption settings.
The Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 provides the overarching framework for adoption and fostering panels in Scotland. Panels make key recommendations which affect the lives of children, foster carers and adopters. Many of these recommendations have life-long consequences for those involved. It is therefore important that panel members have a clear understanding of the function of panels as well as having an opportunity to consider their role in this process. This workshop is aimed at new adoption and fostering panel members and panel advisers, and may also be of interest to new medical and legal advisers.
Suitable for all social workers and managers who work in fostering teams and who have supervisory responsibility for foster carers. This workshop will be helpful both for workers who are new to fostering and for more experienced workers who are seeking to refresh their knowledge and skills. It will look at the purpose of supervision in foster care and how it can assist in providing high quality care for children who are looked after. It will provide an opportunity to share good practice ideas with colleagues from other agencies and spend time looking at common dilemmas and difficulties. It will be delivered through use of both taught material and case studies.
Decisions we make around siblings are likely to throw up some of the toughest dilemmas we face in family placement work. How do we decide whether children can safely remain together or whether we should look for separate placements? Is our decision making resource led or child led?
This workshop will consider the available research and allow us to think about how to shape our practice to ensure we take account of all key factors involved. Suitable for child care and family placement social workers, it is an opportunity to share ideas and good practice across agencies and consider how to apply the latest evidence to our decision making.
The ADM has an essential role in making decisions about the best plans for children, their carers and adopters. The Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 provides the framework for this role. However, beyond this framework there is very little guidance to inform and support agency decision makers, particularly when dilemmas arise. The process of making the decision will vary across agencies but there are some key good practice considerations.
The statutory and regulatory imperative to review foster carers is clear in Scotland. Whilst there is a framework to guide the functions of reviews, the reality of managing the varied and complex aspects of the review can be challenging. Their importance is critical in making sure that children are looked after in the best possible circumstances.
This workshop will provide participants with the opportunity to look at what works well in reviews as well as considering what happens when there are difficulties. It will be suitable for foster carer review chairs, panel members and advisors as well as members of family placement teams who present at reviews
The skill of a children and families social worker presenting confidently at adoption and fostering panels is one that is improved upon by experience. Ultimately, it is achieved by having the underpinning knowledge of the expectations of the panel process and clarity about planning for children where permanence and adoption feature. This workshop will aim to provide the tools for children and families workers to participate effectively in this process on behalf of vulnerable children. It is aimed at children and families social workers and their managers. It may also be of benefit to anyone who has a quality assurance role with adoption and permanence panels.
Navigating your way around the law and making it relevant to your day-to-day work gives social workers the knowledge, confidence and competence to intervene in families’ lives where the need arises. This workshop explains the powers, duties and obligations of the decision makers, workers and carers and the rights and responsibilities of children and parents. The training is tailored for those new to children and family work and permanence or for those looking for clarification of child care law. Plenary sessions, case scenarios, quizzes and discussions bring the law to life and show how it can be applied to improve outcomes for children.
Suitable for those new to the process of moving children on, more experienced practitioners seeking to refresh their knowledge and foster carers whose involvement and perspective on the process are critical. A child’s move to permanent placement can be a time of anticipation and excitement, but it may also trigger feelings of loss and anxiety.
Delegates will consider steps that can be taken to ensure the transition from temporary placement to permanent placement is made as positive as possible.
Children’s Hearings decide whether the plans made by social workers will be implemented. This workshop will support and inform the worker in their pivotal role within the Hearing System in promoting the agency recommendation so that the best outcome for the child will be achieved.
Delegates will be provided with an insight into the mechanics of the System explaining the various orders, the best way for the worker to prepare and present at Hearings, the importance of the written report and reviewing the progress of work carried out under the Orders. This training is a must for any worker attending Hearings.
Kinship carers look after some of our most vulnerable children, often as a direct alternative to children being received into care.
This workshop will look at the significant changes under new legislation to their legal status, financial entitlements and the local authority’s duties in supporting them. It will draw on up-to-date research that highlights the experiences of children and kinship carers. It sheds light on how workers can meet the unique challenges involved to promote stability for the child within a kinship care setting.
Social networking is here to stay in an ever-changing world. Our confidence levels about how to manage this phenomenon can vary. The importance of social media in young people’s lives can challenge supervising social workers, foster carers and adopters. The issue of unmediated online contact is one that arises on a consistent basis. This workshop will aim to provide an overview of how the impact of these changes have been managed and progressed in adoption and fostering.
Panel chairs require an essential set of knowledge, skills and values in order for the process to achieve positive outcomes for children. The business of panels is complex, they make recommendations about adoption and permanence plans for children, approve foster carers and adopters and consider matches. They also oversee the reviews of foster carers and adopters. In addition, the provisions of the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 allow any agency decision to be reviewed or ‘appealed’ and this also falls under the remit of these panels. Whilst experience of chairing other meetings is helpful, there are unique aspects to chairing panels which will form the basis of this workshop.
Using case scenarios, the worker will follow 3 children through the legal framework of the care system providing a continuous link between the various stages of the process.
An intensive and interactive day looking at what happens at Children’s Hearings, in permanence planning and in Court, the workshop will look at the decisions open to Hearings, at the mechanics of permanence orders, direct petitions and kinship care orders and explain their practical application.
The workshop is a must for the new and experienced practitioners who want to navigate the process in order to minimise drift and delay and to make effective and practical decisions appropriate for each child.
When permanent placement away from home is planned for a child, a report must be written that serves multiple purposes and requires the greatest care. The child’s social worker must make sure that the child, their family, their history and their current and future needs are thoroughly understood and set out in writing.
This report is written for a range of different audiences, including Panels, Courts and potential future substitute parents for the child. Writing a report that meets the requirements of a range of parties while remaining sensitive and child focussed can feel an overwhelming challenge for social workers.
This workshop will explore the use of the Report to satisfy the needs of competing audiences and, most importantly, those of the child now and in the future.
A significant aspect of a social worker’s role is appearing in court where their practice, training and application of the law is tested. A thorough but accessible explanation of the legislation and decisions made by courts will be complimented by a step-by-step guide to appearing in court and an opportunity to take part in a mock proof.
This training will support the social worker in preparing and presenting confidently in court so that they can showcase the hard work they have put in to promoting and planning for permanence.