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EalingChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Life Appreciation Days

Contents

  1. The Purpose of Life Appreciation Days
  2. Who are Life Appreciation Days for?
  3. When should a Life Appreciation Day be held?
  4. What Preparation is Needed?
  5. Equipment and Resources
  6. Who will Chair the Life Appreciation Day?
  7. Who Should be Invited?
  8. What happens at the Life Appreciation Day?
  9. What happens after the Life Appreciation Day?

1. The Purpose of Life Appreciation Days

The purpose of a 'Life Appreciation Day' is to bring the child and his/her experiences alive for the people who will be making a relationship with the child and who will be helping him/her in the longer-term to make sense of his/her past. A Life Appreciation Day can help to further inform the Life Story Work that is being undertaken with the child.

Such a day can also help to reduce the risk of future placement disruption by providing fuller information for the prospective parent(s)/carer(s). It is a day when the prospective parent(s)/carer(s) meet as many of the people who have played a role in the child's earlier life as possible. It is an opportunity for the prospective parents(s)/carer(s) to ask questions of people who have been involved with the child or children and their birth family.

A Life Appreciation Day is also further opportunity to consider as a group how best to support a child and their permanent family to deal with difficult situations.

2. Who are Life Appreciation Days for?

Ealing Adoption Team will convene a Life Appreciation Day for:

  • Children over the age of 18 months;
  • For children under 18 months if there has been a history of significant placement moves;
  • For a child of any age who has had a previous placement disruption;
  • Where more than one child is to be placed as part of sibling group either in the same placement or separately;
  • Children from the same sibling group who are to be placed separately should each have a Life Appreciation Day.

3. When should a Life Appreciation Day be held?

Life Appreciation Days should be held once a match has been identified and before matching panel. This ensures that the prospective adopters/permanent carer(s) have had the opportunity to receive all information about the child and have an opportunity to reflect on information shared before the match is presented to panel. Initial planning for a Life Appreciation Day should therefore be undertaken as early as possible.

4. What Preparation is needed?

The child's family finder and the adoption team administrator will be responsible for co-ordinating the organisation of the Life Appreciation Day. This will include booking the venue, the chair, organising refreshments and organising the invite list. The family finder will ensure that there are photographs and/or a video of the child and other members of their family available in advance of the meeting so that these can be shared on the day. Drawings done by the child should also be included.

Invitations should be sent out as early as possible so that as many people as possible are able to attend. The letter of invitation will explain the purpose of the Life Appreciation Day. A leaflet which explains what a Life Appreciation Day is will be sent to the prospective adopter(s)/carer(s).

The child's social worker will be responsible for preparing in advance a family tree and a flow chart of significant events/moves in a child's life. This will need to be sent to the chair of the meeting 7 days prior to the meeting along with a copy of the Child's Permanence Report. Depending on the needs of the child, there may be additional documents that should be made available to the chair in advance of the meeting e.g. review reports.

Lunch and refreshments are provided for the participants who are present for the whole of the Life Appreciation Day.

5. Equipment and Resources

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

6. Who will Chair the Life Appreciation Day?

The chair of the meeting who will be the manager of the post adoption support team or another manager who is not directly involved in the case. The chair of the meeting will ensure that the day runs smoothly and on time, that all participants have the opportunity to speak, and that the prospective carers have the opportunity to ask questions. Most importantly the chair will ensure the day takes all participants on a conducted journey through the life of the child.

7. Who Should be Invited?

Essential for the meeting:

  • The chair;
  • The minute taker;
  • Prospective permanent carers and their link social worker;
  • Social Worker for the child;
  • Family finding social worker;
  • Previous social worker for the child;
  • Current foster carers;
  • Any previous foster carers;
  • Independent Reviewing officer for the child.

Optional for the meeting;

  • Teachers/play leaders;
  • Health visitors/ school nurse;
  • Social workers for foster carers;
  • Foster carer's extended family;
  • Play scheme workers;
  • Contact supervisors;
  • Outreach workers;
  • Therapeutic worker linked to either the child or the birth family;
  • Members of the extended birth family (if appropriate and risk assessment has been undertaken);
  • Any other significant adult in the life of the child.

The family finding social worker will liaise with the chair of the Life Appreciation Day to decide whether to allocate slots for people to attend or to invite everyone at the same time. This will be dependent on the number of people involved, the complexity of the case and the availability of those invited.

8. What happens at the Life Appreciation Day?

The first names only of the prospective adopter(s)/carer(s) should be used to maintain confidentiality. Anyone who attends the day will be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement.

The flow chart of significant moves and the family tree will be visible throughout the Life Appreciation Day and will form the basis of the discussion. Using the movement chart and the family tree the chair should take all those present through the child's life asking for memories and details at each stage. It is particularly important to gain an idea of what happened at each key event in the child's life and how the child might have felt about his/her experiences. Discussion will often elicit details not in the child's case files such as what a particular house was like, were there any pets etc.

A child appreciation day will expand on information already available about:

  • The history of the child's birth parents and their own experience of being parented taking into consideration cultural, racial and religious differences;
  • The child's pre and post birth experiences, identifying any positives or particular strengths of the birth family;
  • The circumstances of the child's reception into care;
  • The child's life in care, particular importance should be given to any placement moves and identifying different parenting styles the child may have experienced;
  • How has all of the above impacted on the child's attachment history and their ability to form new attachments?
  • The child's preparation for adoption/permanence;
  • The day will close with a summary by the chair and any reflections of other participants;
  • Photographs of the child will be available throughout the day and time made for a DVD to be shown.

9. What happens after the Life Appreciation Day?

It is important to have an accurate record of the day as so much valuable information, that may not be recorded on the child's file will be shared during the day. The day will be recorded by a minute taker and a record of the of Life Appreciation Day will be written up. A copy of the completed record along with photocopies of the family tree and chronology and photographs of the child will be given to the prospective adopter(s)/carer(s). A copy of this final Life Appreciation Day document will be placed on the child's file.

Following the meeting a letter will be sent to everyone who attended the meeting to thank them for doing this. I questionnaire will be sent to attendees asking for feedback from them.