Adverse weather conditions

The met office has released a red alert relating to adverse weather conditions in South Wales. We have made the decision to close the office with immediate effect. The office will close today and tomorrow: Thursday 1st March and Friday 2nd March, reopening on Monday 5th March. The duty desk remains open.

The Support Group scheduled for the morning of Saturday 3rd March has been cancelled.

Thank you.

St. David’s

Adoption is a very positive, life changing option for children in need.

Adoption is a very positive, life changing option for children in need.

St. David’s Children Society.

 

Keeping children safe is the foremost consideration for all adoption professionals. Adoptive parents come from all sorts of backgrounds and are trained and supported with the child’s safety and wellbeing as paramount. For the overwhelming majority of children who are adopted, it provides them with a safe and loving home for life. Adoption provides essential security and belonging not just for very young children but also for older children, brothers and sisters and children with other needs such as medical uncertainty or complexities.

 

In the year ending 31st March 2017, 4,350 children were adopted in England while 304 were placed for adoption in the same period in Wales. The research evidences that 97% of these placements will endure, though some will require ongoing levels of support. St. David’s continually reflects on how we develop our practice and ensure that we offer ongoing training and support to these unique families to help children be the very best that they can be – they deserve nothing less.

 

There remains a critical shortage of adoptive parents in Wales and children continue to wait for adoption placements. It is important that we continue to address this shortfall through our recruitment of adopters to meet this need and reduce delays for children in their adoption journey.

 

Gerry Cooney

CEO

St. David’s Children Society

A tribute to Dr. Kevin Fitzpatrick OBE

St. David’s Children Society tribute to Dr. Kevin Fitzpatrick OBE, an adoptive parent, the Chair of our Trustee Board and a formidable human rights champion.

A tribute to Dr. Kevin Fitzpatrick OBE

Sadly, Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick OBE, died on the 14th January 2016. His death was peaceful with his wife and children by his side. We offer our deepest condolences to Fabienne, his three wonderful children and all his family.

For these past 17 years Kevin chaired the trustees of St. David’s Children Society. He was an inspirational and visionary leader whose experience as an adoption parent helped redefine and redirect our adoption service. Under his governance, St. David’s matured into an adoption provider of the highest quality. His knowledge of the impact of neglect and trauma on children was immense. His personal experience, a rich resource, freely and softly shared.

Kevin was deeply human. In recent years, he travelled from the South of France to attend our trustee meetings. The logistical challenge for a wheelchair user in managing countless taxies, trains and planes is indescribable. It was not that he never missed a meeting. It was that he gave this time so freely and notwithstanding the pain spasms, there was always a smile and supportive word.  – The same courage and determination was evident in so many facets of his life.

Kevin was a writer, researcher and a formidable human rights champion. He was a remarkable individual driven by conviction and commitment. A persuasive leader whose clarity of purpose helped others identify intelligent, simple solutions to everyday challenges. Deputy Minister Gwenda Thomas A.M. appointed Kevin as the chair of Welsh Government’s Expert Adoption Advisory Group which laid the foundation for the National Adoption Service for Wales.

His integrity, his legacy will live on not just in St. David’s, but in so many other organisation including Not Dead Yet, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Europe, Hope Ireland, Disability Wales, The Welsh Ambulance Trust, as Disability Rights Commissioner and in the lives of the many countless individuals he touched.

For these past 27 years, Kevin has been my closest friend. We spent so much time laughing together, philosophising and putting the world right in our imaginary minds. In my moments of self-doubt his gentle, persuasive assurance always edified. My world is a smaller place without Kevin. I will truly miss him.

Gerry Cooney

Chief executive.

St. David’s Children Society.

Preserving the Legacy of BAAF Cymru

Preserving the Legacy of BAAF Cymru

Following the closure of BAAF Cymru on 4th September 2015, St. David’s will amalgamate core elements of the BAAF legacy into the organisation. Commenting on the amalgamation Gerry Cooney, chief executive of St. David’s said:

“It is our absolute priority to continue services that will support the future of adoption services in Wales as well as other permanency arrangements. The integration of core elements of the BAAF legacy will ensure the continuation of vital services including an information helpline, training and consultancy. These services will offer independent information,
support and expertise for professionals and members of the public that will assist and improve the lives of children and young people separated from their birth families.”

“The continuation of services has only been possible due to the superb support from the Welsh Government. We will now work together to harness the highly skilled expertise of both organisations to achieve our vision of placing children in their forever homes, and in offering support where needed to all those affected by adoption and other care arrangements.”

Wales is the only part of the UK where the BAAF legacy services remains completely intact; remarkably with no loss of employment to any BAAF staff. The National Adoption Service has assumed responsibility for the Welsh Adoption Register.

Training, consultancy, and an advice line for members of the public and professionals will be run by a new entity to be established by the St David’s Children Society, to be known as the ‘Association for Fostering and Adoption Cymru @ St David’s.’ This new service will offer a knowledge hub offering learning resources that will promote and reflect best practice. In addition, practice forums, groups for professionals working with children including health and legal advisors, and information exchanges will be available for professionals and people living with children. Staff have been recruited from the remaining former BAAF Cymru staff members who will support the development of Welsh specific resources and publications to support good practice in Wales.

Gerry Cooney
Chief Executive
St David’s Children Society

Julie Selwyn’s research – Beyond the Adoption Order (Wales): Discord and disruption in adoptive families

Julie Selwyn’s research – Beyond the Adoption Order (Wales): Discord and disruption in adoptive families

Chief Executive of St David’s Children Society, Gerry Cooney responding to Dr Selwyn’s research:

The publicati

Julie Selwyn’s research – Beyond the Adoption Order (Wales): Discord and disruption in adoptive families

Chief Executive of St David’s Children Society, Gerry Cooney responding to Dr Selwyn’s research:

The publication of Julie Selwyn’s report on the quality of adoption services in Wales raises serious questions. Responding to her research, Gerry Cooney CEO of St David’s Children Society said:

“This is influential and commanding research. Dr Selwyn finds that while our adoption system has its strengths, inherent weaknesses remain. Her core message is that a considerable number of children placed for adoption continue to be deeply affected by their early life experiences. The report emphasises just how crucial adoption support is to ensure each individual child’s life-chances and their continued emotional development. We are clear – to place children with adoptive families without the ongoing support that meets these deepest needs, is an injustice for our most vulnerable children and the families who parent them.”

Dr Selwyn’s researcher-iterates the urgent need for change. “We are confident that the National Adoption Service in Wales can reform structures and achieve the innovations needed.”

“St. David’s is a full partner in the new service and continues to provide the best possible support required by each child at every step of the adoption process. The results and outcomes for children and families is evidenced in placement stability, redressing such serious disadvantage.”

“Far too many children continue to wait for adoptive placements. It is vital that all families considering adoption feel confident that they will receive the support they need to grow as a family. St. David’s guarantees this support, for as long as it takes. Children deserve nothing less.”

To see the full press release please view here

Gerry Cooney
Chief Executive
St David’s Children Society

on of Julie Selwyn’s report on the quality of adoption services in Wales raises serious questions. Responding to her research, Gerry Cooney CEO of St David’s Children Society said:

“This is influential and commanding research. Dr Selwyn finds that while our adoption system has its strengths, inherent weaknesses remain. Her core message is that a considerable number of children placed for adoption continue to be deeply affected by their early life experiences. The report emphasises just how crucial adoption support is to ensure each individual child’s life-chances and their continued emotional development. We are clear – to place children with adoptive families without the ongoing support that meets these deepest needs, is an injustice for our most vulnerable children and the families who parent them.”

Dr Selwyn’s researcher-iterates the urgent need for change. “We are confident that the National Adoption Service in Wales can reform structures and achieve the innovations needed.”

“St. David’s is a full partner in the new service and continues to provide the best possible support required by each child at every step of the adoption process. The results and outcomes for children and families is evidenced in placement stability, redressing such serious disadvantage.”

“Far too many children continue to wait for adoptive placements. It is vital that all families considering adoption feel confident that they will receive the support they need to grow as a family. St. David’s guarantees this support, for as long as it takes. Children deserve nothing less.”

To see the full press release please view here

Gerry Cooney
Chief Executive
St David’s Children Society

St. David’s chief executive: Gerry Cooney, speaking at the opening of the Hereford adoption service office

We are delighted that the Mayor and Mrs Tawn have joined us today kindly agreeing to open our new Hereford office. Thank you for affording us this time and for acknowledging the Society’s contribution to adoption services. It feels the Mayor has a natural affinity to adoption, reflected in the fact that he is with us today and also in that he choose SSAFA as one of his charities of the year. For over 30 years SSAFA has provided a range of family support services, including adoption services to members of the armed services across the UK, N Ireland and Germany.

As the Mayor referenced, in our 72 year history, St. David’s has placed over 2,000 children for adoption. Our work continues. Last year we placed, 45 children with new families and anticipate placing a similar number this year.

I would like to thank our adoption team for the exceptionally high degree of support they provide to children and families at all stage of the adoption process. A very sincere thanks to our Deputy Director, Joan Price and our adoption managers, whose leadership and professionalism have been instrumental in shaping and maintaining the quality of these services, and also to Helen and Chris Stevens, whose support in the opening of this office has been immense.

We warmly welcome the representatives of Herefordshire Co Co who are here today and in particular the social work practitioners of the Hereford adoption team. We share your mission and commitment. We look forward to working with you, learning from you and believe that in working together we can achieve ever greater outcomes for children awaiting adoption.

Across the country, some children wait far too long to achieve their optimum placement, particularly children over 4 years of age and sibling groups of children. Many have been neglected and ill treated. Most have had their attachments disrupted or experienced changes of schools which negatively impacts upon their education. The task facing us all is to help each of these children achieve their own unique story.

As social workers, we are custodians of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention advocating that each child has the right to a name, an identity, a life of stability and security, a place called home. Article 21 of the Convention reflects that where children cannot be looked after by their birth family, adoption may be considered as an alternative means of achieving family life. We recognise that adoption may not be the right option for every child, but for those children who require an adoption placement, it is a tremendously successful option. Adoption research consistently evidences that with support, children thrive in adoption placements.

Yet we would achieve very little by way of our mission, if it was not for the support of people in our communities who year after year, come forward to adopt children. We are privileged to have quite a number of adoptive families here today, including Jenny who spoke so movingly of her family’s adoption journey. More than anything else, it is the enduring love and lifelong commitment of adoptive families that creates safe, secure and loving worlds for these children. It is through you that these children reclaim all that was lost. We trust that in opening this office, we will reach out to more families like you. Thank you.

Gerry Cooney
Chief Executive

Mayor of Hereford, Cllr Len Tawn speaking at the opening of St. David’s office in Hereford

I am delighted to have been invited to the official opening of these new offices and to be part of such an important day for all those who work for St David’s Children’s Society and their partners.

It was wonderful to listen to the story Jenny, a local adoptive family who so movingly spoke about their experience of adoption, in particular, hearing of the immense joy of a vulnerable child entering and becoming part of their family. It was a privilege to listen and share in this journey and the important part that St David’s played in orchestrating it.

Since 1942 St. David’s Children Society has provided adoption services across all of Herefordshire and Wales. During that time the Society has placed over 2,000 children for adoption – a very significant contribution to children and family life. Perhaps, the quality of their services is most evident in their very low adoption breakdown rates – two disruptions in their last 100 placements. This is all the more remarkable given that the Society specialises in placing older children and sibling groups of children for adoption. It is also evidenced by the fact that BAAF (the British Agencies for Adoption & Fostering) has awarded St. David’s the accolade of being one of the top three outstanding voluntary adoption agencies in the UK.

Hereford City and the County of Herefordshire have a great tradition of positively responding to the needs of children waiting for adoption. It is good to see prospective adopters being offered greater choice as they explore and reflect on their decision to adopt. Securing permanence for children is a key consideration from the day the each child enters the care system. We are all aware that there are a number of routes to permanency: through reunification with the child’s family, through fostering, Special Guardianship Orders and ultimately through adoption. Across England, over 4,000 children wait for adoption placements. Against this backdrop, the opening of this office is wholeheartedly welcomed and can only be good for children.

It is great to welcome social work practitioners from our Hereford adoption team to this event, evidence of the ever greater collaborative working together between the public and voluntary sectors. All share the same aim, to secure loving family life for all of these children who wait for permanent families.

I applaud the commitment and energy St David’s has in securing adoptive placements for some of our older children who have been let down for whatever reason and find themselves within the care system, and also for providing the specialised lifelong services they need. You are very welcome to Hereford and we wish you every success in your vital work.

Mayor of Hereford, Cllr Len Tawn
3rd November 2014

Newsletter 2014

Welcome to readers old and new, existing families and prospective families. We have had another very busy year, lots of new families created and 45 very happy children placed with their respective Mums and Dads, of all combinations, shapes and sizes.

Whilst the families have been growing so too have the staff team… we have 4 new social workers joining us and a social work assistant: a new and exciting development for us. Alongside the new however, there have been some losses, notably, Edwina has hung up her boots after almost 9 years with the agency and Petra has moved onto pastures new. Evelyne has also moved on with a relocation to the big smoke….London. We wish them all well and thank them for their support, unique and enduring………………..

St David’s Children Society, one of the top three adoption services in the UK

On Tuesday 8th November 2012, Wales’ country’s longest-serving adoption agency, St David’s Children Society, was awarded as one of top three adoption services in the UK by the British Association of Adoption and Fostering (BAAF).

The award, held in London, was hosted by the BBC’s Nicky Campbell. It was launched to commemorate the 15th anniversary of National Adoption Week and celebrate the best of adoption practice across the UK.

Commenting on the award, Gerry Cooney, chief officer of St. David’s said, “This award is a testament to the professionalism and dedication of our staff.  It recognises the high quality of our adoption service, but more importantly, this award should inspire confidence in families who are thinking about adoption. It is imperative that all families considering adoption receive services of the highest quality.  This award assures families that they can trust St. David’s for outstanding services.”

The award came on the day that St David’s announced a long-term partnership with Adoption UK which is being heralded as the ‘gold standard’ in adoption support, providing services for adoptive families from the first enquiry about becoming an adopter right through to the adopted child reaching adulthood.

Commenting on the partnership, Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services said: “This kind of partnership working and peer-to-peer support is a great example of how new approaches can be found to share experience and improve the adoption process.”

Adoption report released as leading players announce partnership

Adoption report released as leading players announce partnership

 

Adoption UK has welcomed a report calling for the Welsh Government to do more to improve the adoption system in Wales, including establishing a National Adoption Service and giving adopters a guaranteed right to ongoing support.

The report, which also stated that the role of voluntary organisations is “pivotal to the development of the proposed National Adoption Service”, is released as Adoption UK Cymru and St David’s Children Society announce the launch of a groundbreaking partnership.

The union will see the two organisations work together to ensure that every adoptive family receives first class support from the early stages of their adoption journey until the children grow up.

The report was published following a Children and Young People Committee inquiry into adoption services in Wales. There were 246 children adopted from care in the year ending March 31, 2012, the majority were removed from their birth parents due to abuse and neglect.

Ann Bell, Adoption UK Development Manager Wales, said: “Adoption UK gave evidence at this Inquiry and contributed to the report. We are therefore delighted that our views as a leading voice of adoptive parenting issues have been recognised as well as our work as a provider of adoption support services.

“Given that we are talking about those families who are parenting some of Wales’ most vulnerable children, support should be guaranteed and we view this new, exciting partnership as setting a benchmark for first class adoption support in Wales.”

“It’s an exciting time for adoption in Wales.”

Gerry Cooney, Chief Executive at St. David’s Children Society said:“This partnership aims to empower and enable adopters by assisting in the development, design and delivery of a support service that meets their needs. We are confident that this partnership will support children and families throughout their lives.”

Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services said: “The adoption service in Wales is set to undergo significant reform. Providing safe and stable placements for children is of paramount importance. Our plan for sustainable social services identified that local authorities and voluntary adoption agencies needed better ways of working together and this kind of partnership working and peer-to-peer support is a great example of how new approaches can be found to share experience and improve the adoption process.”