Conference and AGM

potato conf 2015

Hello all POTATO group members and interested people 🙂

In November we held our AGM and conference with a mix of speakers and information sharing amongst peers.

AGM.

The Steering group met and it was decided that the roles within Potato Group needed some changes due to the increased work load involved in a larger, and expanding membership.

The roles decided upon were:

  • Chairperson. x1
  • General Secretary. x1
  • Membership Secretary. x1
  • Welfare Secretary x2
  • Treasurer (with supporting signatories)

Steering Group Persons were proposed and seconded by members, duly elected.

Points of discussion included development of a membership map and database for meeting support. Further discussion about revenue streams and finance followed. Members were asked to consider dates, times and venues for AGMs and Conferences in future. Ideas on the day included having a summer conference and a winter AGM, keeping things as they are, having a separate “self care” focus weekend.

To contribute further ideas, or for a full set of minutes, please contact the steering group via email, or twitter @thePOTATOgroup

parentingadoptedteens@gmail.com

Speakers.

Dave Bagshaw- Adoptive Parent, dealing with professionals and understanding each other better.

Exploring reasons that social care misunderstand adoptive parents and are very much geared towards working with dysfunctional parents with dysfunctional children. Whereas we are (generally speaking) functional parents host to dysfunctional young people.

POTATO group parents looking at destructive and challenging behaviours will read these as trauma-induced difficulties which require de-escalation. The parents are often under enormous strain dealing with extreme  issues and find their young person’s needs bring them to the attention of various services. Or they approach services asking for assistance.

Whereas police, social care and other professionals may view this dangerous, rash, threatening behaviours as a result of poor parenting and inadequate boundaries. Dramatising these perspectives it was helpful to recognise what is going on and the practical tips for managing in meetings when the professionals come with this mindset was very helpful for members.

Sarah Phillimore, Barrister.

Sarah’s Website- http://www.childprotectionresource.org.uk/

Sarah has worked extensively in the family law courts.  Via the contacts made with POTATO group she has become aware that section 20 is often being used in respect to adoptive young people who cannot be at home, most often due to their high risk behaviours, significant harm to parents or other children in the home. Section 20 means that the adoptive parents retain FULL parental responsibility. It is our group experience that this is often ignored and the local authority often behave as if they hold PR and the adoptive parents are “to blame” for their child being looked after.

Sarah has looked into this and has done a specific piece of work debunking the narrative that meetings with professionals cannot be recorded. They can be recorded. It is not illegal, saying that you are going to record the meeting is a wise precaution in many cases.

Jackie, ECHP expert advisor.

Very informative talk about the new EHCP plans. You can as a parent apply for an EHCP for your young person but you will need substantial evidence that your child is behind and has been unable to catch up despite support and intervention. It is worth considering applying for a plan, even if your YP is 16yrs old or over because that plan can continue until 25 years old.

The school/ college will be asked for evidence too but it is not essential that they are on side. The EHCPs are very much education orientated but any plan will encapsulate additional health and social needs.

One of the negatives of EHCPs is that all the information you provide to get the support, is shared with that young persons professional team throughout the time under the plan. So consider carefully the evidence presented and whether you want, or your young person will want, that forever on the record.

Jenny Jones, Adoption Support Fund

Jenny Jones website: http://www.inspiredfoundations.co.uk/
Twitter: @JenniferJ432

Adoption support fund is a recent development allowing adoptive families to apply for and obtain funded support for specialist services, relating to their post adoptive needs.

Basically the process is this:

  1. Family applies to the local authority with responsibility for their support for an “Assessment of Needs”.
  2. The Local Authority should send a suitably qualified and experienced worker to assess the family needs and complete the documentation.
  3. The resulting needs outcomes are shared with the family.
  4. If there are specific specialist needs identified for funding, the assessment is considered by the ‘expert advisory group’ for the ASF for consideration.
  5. If agreement is achieved the local authority assist the family in finding adequate resource to fund and get started ASAP.
  6. This process is reviewed.

There are a lot of families and local authorities that have been helped to achieve support the likes of which would have been beyond the scope and means of Adoption Services normally. This has been most welcome. Helpfully, Jenny has detailed this in her powerpoint .

There are several issues that have arisen within ASF processing as several LAs appear to not be applying, lack personnel to assess as well as run a busy department and additionally there are problems with additional panel based bureaucracies within LA’s before the application even reaches the central fund. If the LA has internal panels these are not permitted to change the assessing social workers decisions.

POTATO Group members are looking to see improvement in the general awareness of the ASF and increasing access. Wide misinterpretation of Post Adoption Departments re access of ASF for S20 families is one issue raised from the members. Many families have been treated poorly by LAs that have tried to access support in the past, (see Dave Bagshaw’s talk notes above) that they just cannot pick up the phone and speak to the LA again. Comments from the floor emphasised that increased and easier access review would be welcome.

There was a lot of thanks given to speakers, individual members and the steering group for organising, attending and delivering a diverse, useful and enlightening conference relevant to many areas of parenting adopted teenagers.

Many POTATO Group members enjoyed various social and individual activities over the weekend, enjoying meals out, pampering, shopping and other chances to indulge in some vital self care.

If you attended, thank you for coming along and we will update you with future dates and details of AGM and Conference(s?) for 2016.

Jenni, General Secretary.

 

 

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