Berkshire Safeguarding Children Board Procedures
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6.3.5 Life Appreciation Day

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

The new chapter provides information on Life Appreciate Days for prospective adopters. It explains the aim of the Life Appreciation Day and provides guidance on who should attend.

This chapter is new, and was added to this online procedures manual in January 2017.


Contents

  1. Introduction - What is a Life Appreciation Day?
  2. What do they achieve?
  3. Who are Life Appreication Days for?
  4. When should they be convened and by whom?
  5. Who should chair the meeting?
  6. Who should be invited?
  7. Planning the day


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 potential 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; and
  • Considering issues of contact – past, present and for the future.


2. What do they 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 their 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 Appreication Days for?

Slough Children’s Services Trust will convene Life Appreciation Days for all children and will highlight:

  • Those over the age of 12 months;
  • Sibling groups;
  • Those children aged less than 18 months who have significant need, have had a previous disruption, or where there has been a history of placement moves;
  • 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.


4. When should they be convened and by whom?

Timings of Life Appreciation Days vary, as do views as to when they are most beneficial.  A decision will be made on whether it is held once a match is identified but before Panel or once the match has been agreed by the Agency Decision Maker.

It is important to remember that whenever a Life Appreciation Day is held it can only be completed once and it can inform Life Story work.


5. Who should chair the meeting?

Consultant Practitioner /Adoption Practice Manager/ Experienced 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 to set the discussion within a developmental framework and an understanding of the impact of trauma, abuse and loss on children and their capacity to develop healthy attachments.

It is important that the Chair is able to embrace this difference and encourage contributions from everyone, whilst encouraging 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.

Essential people:

  • Child’s current social worker;
  • The prospective adopter/s;
  • Adoption social worker;
  • Current carer/s;
  • Fostering social worker.

Other possible attendees:

  • Previous foster carer/s;
  • Previous social worker/s;
  • IRO;
  • Teachers;
  • Nursery staff;
  • Health visitors;
  • Medical professionals;
  • Therapeutic worker;
  • Psychologist;
  • 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

Practicalities:

  • Wherever possible, Life Appreciation Days are held at a venue where there is space away from the meeting to allow people to have some private time if so required;
  • Send out invitations as early as possible. Attendees should be asked to read up on any files, diaries and records about the child/children before the day, and to bring along any photographs and memorabilia especially personal ones – including photographs, paintings and drawings which could be passed on to the new carers;
  • Prepare a family tree and a flow chart of significant events and moves in the child's life. These should be sent to the chairperson of the day, along with the Child's Permanence Report and any other relevant documents, preferably one week before the Life Appreciation Day;
  • Lunch and refreshments are provided for the participants who are present for the whole of the Life Appreciation Day. Minutes of the meeting are taken to be distributed as soon as possible following the day.

Equipment and Resources:

  • Flip Chart, pens;
  • PowerPoint projector;
  • DVD player;
  • Photographs and memorabilia relating to the child.

Recording

So much information about the child and their experiences is shared during the course of the day that it is important to have an accurate record of what is said. It is an emotional experience for the adopters and the amount of information shared may mean that adopters could feel overwhelmed.

The minutes of Life Appreciation Days will be written up and made available to adopters within a relatively short timescale.

End