VIRTUAL MEETINGS OF ADOPTION AND FOSTERING PANEL

Most agencies have either temporarily suspended panels or greatly restricted the business that is to be prioritised. AFA Scotland has had discussions with some agencies about running panels remotely using video conferencing type services (eg, GoToMeetings, Zoom, Skype etc.) and will share information about how well this works as soon as possible.

While virtual meetings bring additional challenges and should not become the norm in the longer term, with the outlook so uncertain, there is a real danger that plans for children will be indefinitely stalled as a result of the current crisis, and virtual meetings offer a possible route for dealing with the most urgent situations.  If your agency is considering this, AFA Scotland’s advice would be to think carefully about a number of keys issues.

Technology: many of the options work well (we are mostly using GoToMeetings but there are several options) but they require people to familiarise themselves with the process in advance. The connection process is generally not complex but everyone involved in a panel needs the opportunity to test the system prior to any meeting and be sure that they have reliable broadband that will allow them to remain properly connected throughout with satisfactory sound and video quality.

Managing the meeting: managing the process and interaction in the virtual meeting space places extra demands on the chair. Again, the opportunity for panels to test this out before launching into their first virtual panel is strongly advised. As well as testing out the technicalities of the process, panel members and other participants will also need to confirm that they have a space from which they will join the meeting that will remain secure and uninterrupted throughout.

Security and data protection: while most of the systems have the functionality to ensure that the meeting is properly secure, this does rely on the person hosting the meeting (eg, panel co-ordinator or panel chair) being sufficiently familiar with the system to ensure that the privacy functions are operating (i.e.switched on!). If agencies decide to have technical support available to participants, they will also need to consider the security clearance of these IT support staff. Agencies may want to check with their Data Protection Officer about compliance, their data governance policy and procedures.

Support to participants: The approach will be unfamiliar for most participants whether they are social works, foster carers, prospective adopters or birth parents. They will need the same support and opportunity to test the system in advance as other panel members.

Clearly it is very early days in the possible use of approaches such as virtual panels, but if you do use this approach please tell us how you got on so that we can share the information as widely as possible. We are rapidly developing our own skills in this area, so do also get in touch directly if you want some support in relation to doing something similar in your agency.

NEW HOST FOR SCOTLAND'S ADOPTION REGISTER

Following a tendering process, the Scottish Government has just announced that Scotland’s Adoption Register will be hosted by AFA Scotland from 1 April 2020. 

Scotland’s Adoption Register was established in 2011 and from then until 2015 was hosted by BAAF Scotland. When BAAF Scotland unexpectedly entered into administration in July 2015, the Scottish Government sought alternative arrangements and were fortunate that St Andrew’s Children’s Society agreed to take on this role at very short notice. The support from St Andrew’s since then has been widely appreciated – as noted in the recently published independent review of the Register, ‘It is well regarded for the way in which it has fulfilled its role and thought to have done so with integrity. It is considered to have been highly principled in its custodianship and financial management of the service. It is also viewed positively as having enabled positive change and development within the Register’s services.’

St Andrew’s Children’s Society and AFA Scotland will work closely to ensure the transition proceeds smoothly and that there is no disruption to the service from 1 April. More information will be circulated in due course if there are changes to any of the contact details.

An advert for the new Manager/ Practitioner post for the Register has been placed on MyJobScotland and AFA Scotland's website, so please do pass this information on to anyone you think may be interested in this opportunity.  For further details and an application form,  please click on the following links:

Application form

Essential Information

Job/Person Specification

If you have any questions about the transition process and future arrangements please contact me by email - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on 0131 322 8490, or Stephen Small at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

NEW PUBLICATION - PROSPECTIVE ADOPTER'S REPORT - SCOTLAND (PAR-S)

AFA Scotland is delighted that the new Prospective Adopter’s Report – Scotland (PAR-S) has just been published by CoramBAAF to replace the previous Form F (Adoption and Permanence Scotland). This has been circulated to all agencies that are members of AFA Scotland.

The form has been updated to reflect changes in practice and legislation, and has been extensively revised in response to comments and suggestions from many agencies and practitioners in Scotland about how this could be improved. The work was coordinated by AFA Scotland in collaboration with CELCIS and the adoption task force. Particular thanks are due to Robert Swift who led the small group undertaking the revisions, and to all those who commented on or participated in the pilot of the new form.

The new PAR-S consists of three Word templates - the main form, the Guidance Notes, and a Registration of Interest form. It is focused on the assessment of prospective adopters. Although not specifically designed for the assessment of inter-country adopters, permanent foster carers or kinship carers, it can be used and adapted for this at the discretion of agencies.

CoramBAAF has also just published a new Preparing to Adopt course specifically for Scotland, which we hope will work well alongside the PAR-S. Again, the extensive revisions to previous editions were put together by AFA Scotland and Adoption UK, incorporating comments from the great majority of Scottish local authorities and voluntary adoption agencies. CoramBAAF is circulating complimentary copies of the Trainer’s Guide and the Applicant’s Workbook to all agencies that are members of AFA Scotland. Additional copies can be purchased at https://corambaaf.org.uk/books/preparing-adopt-scotland-applicants-workbook and  https://corambaaf.org.uk/books/preparing-adopt-scotland-trainers-guide.  

ADOPTION WEEK SCOTLAND 2019 ROUNDUP

AFA Scotland and Adoption UK Scotland were again responsible for organising Adoption Week Scotland running from Monday 18th to Saturday 22nd November. The programme for the week proved highly successful, generated considerable media coverage and was supported by many local agencies running events in their own areas. Despite the distraction of a looming election we were delighted to have strong support from the Scottish Government with both Maree Todd, Minister for Children and Young People, and John Swinney, Deputy First Minister, speaking at events. Their attendance gave a really positive message about the Scottish Government’s continuing recognition of the importance of adoption and helped ensure a high level of interest throughout the week.

The theme of ‘adoption stories’ was centred on an event at the Scottish Poetry Centre, where adopted young people who had taken part in writing workshops to create their own short stories and a group poem on the theme of 'Home', presented a film about their work and had the chance to speak to John Swinney about their experiences. The stories theme was also reflected in the exceptionally well supported practitioner event that focussed on adoption support. The importance of hearing the stories of all those involved when thinking about adoption support - children, adoptive parents, birth parents, and other family members – was reflected in presentations of research and practice, including an input from Richard Rose on working therapeutically with children around their own stories.

It was particularly encouraging to see the amount of activity organised by other agencies to coincide with the week’s main events.

AFA Scotland and Adoption UK are hoping to be running Adoption Week Scotland again next year, so while memories of this year’s programme are still fresh in the mind please do get in touch to share your ideas about how we can ensure the week has the maximum impact right across the country.

SECURING CHILDREN'S FUTURES

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.

Course dates                                                    Venue                                       Cost    

Module One:    11, 12 & 13 November 2019       Jurys Inn Edinburgh                   £2885 + VAT= £3462.00

Module Two:     20, 21 & 22 January 2020        

Module Three:   16, 17 & 18 March 2020                                  

                                                                                       

For further information, please contact: Brenda Reilly, Business Support and Finance Manager This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Ravinder Kaur, Course Leader This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Information flyer available here plus application form here

AFA Scotland is registered as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) - SC046417