Thursday, 7 April 2011

A week in the life of… Be My Parent’s adoption placement team

Today, Patricia McGinty talks to us about her role as Child Placement Consultant for BAAF’s Be My Parent newspaper and website. She is part of the team that finds adoption and long term fostering families for children in care.

There is no typical week within Be My Parent, but we do work on a monthly cycle around the production of the newspaper. For two weeks of every month I work on approving the children’s profiles, the written descriptions that you can see online and in the newspapers. Many of these children will have sadly had some difficult early experiences which may include abuse or neglect or just circumstances where a parent is unable to care for their child. I work closely with our editorial team and the children’s social workers to make sure profiles are reflective of good social work practice and maximise the child’s chances of finding an adoptive or permanent foster family.

When profiles come to Be My Parent, we make sure they are easy to read with sufficient detail to help prospective families to make appropriate enquiries. We encourage agencies to use our online service, where there is space for longer profiles and the opportunity to include additional photos and film clips to help present a more rounded image of the child’s personality and needs. The film clips really help to bring the children’s profiles to life, offering a clearer image of what the child is like—something especially valuable for children with complex needs, such as a disability.

During National Adoption Week I work with local authorities and our press office to profile children needing adoption in the mainstream media. It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to explore a new pool of prospective families for children who have been waiting a long time for an adoptive family. In the past this has included The Sun newspaper, and TV programmes such as This Morning and GMTV. Because working with the mainstream media involves more public exposure, a lot of work is involved to ensure that the children and their birth relatives are appropriately prepared. In National Adoption Week 2010 we featured 14 children, all of which received enquiries, and potential families are being considered for four of them.

I also provide information and advice to families interested in adoption and fostering. Sometimes families come to me distressed because they‘ve waited a long time for a potential match with a child that may have fallen through. A couple of weeks ago I received a telephone call from an adoptive family who told me I had encouraged them not to give up at an Adoption Exchange Day two years ago, where they were frustrated after two years of waiting. They phoned to share their wonderful news that they’d been matched with a child. Knowing they’d persevered to make a positive difference to a child’s life following my advice made my week!

I’m very proud of the service we provide. 2500 prospective adoptive and permanent foster families currently subscribe to Be My Parent. Last year, 120 children were placed with permanent families though the Be My Parent service, and of the 800 children referred to us, 97% received enquiries from prospective adoptive and permanent foster families. When one of us receives news that a child has been placed with a family the whole team celebrates. That’s the main reward – knowing that all the hard work and commitment and that goes into getting the child’s profile right or supporting a family can result in making a positive and lifelong difference to so many lives.

Patricia is currently involved with our See the Difference page, where the public can help fund Be My Parent's phone service for prospective parents. Be sure to visit to see our See the Difference video today.

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