What is activity day and why attend one?
Adoption activity days extend the approach developed through the adoption exchange days, giving adopters the opportunity to directly meet a range of children, waiting to be adopted. The focus of the day is on providing a wide range of activities for children so that whatever else happens the children have a really enjoyable experience. Children will also have the opportunity to meet families thinking about adoption and meeting other children like them waiting for an adoptive placement.
Activity days have been well established in England, with regular events organised since 2011. The Scottish Government supported a pilot project of 3 Activity days in Scotland which started in 2015. The Scottish Government commissioned an independent review and evaluation of the first event. Details of the evaluation as well as background information about the days can be found in this frequently asked questions document.
The evidence so far
Following our first 3 pilots days, the feedback had been very positive about the children having thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and the outcomes in terms of matching achieved have been seen as a positive alternative to family find for a wider group of children in Scotland. The Scottish Government supported having the days established in the Scottish calendar of family finding events. We now aim to organised 3 events a year.
In terms of the matching achieved, a quarter of the children attending all our events were matched with a family a result. This corresponds almost exactly to the average matching rate achieved in England since 2011 and is significantly higher matching rate than that achieved by any other approach to family finding.
Risks and benefits
There are clearly risks involved and very careful preparation is required, particularly with the older children, to manage their expectations of the event and ensure they don’t feel hurt of rejected if just the right family is not at the event they are attending.
The benefits that have been identified from the events held so far include:
- Children who sound difficult or complicated on paper can come across much more positively in person – the events help adopters to the see the child first.
- Children are matched who wouldn’t otherwise be found a family – there are many stories of positive matches being found where families are drawn to children they wouldn’t have expected to be the sort of children they could consider.
- By allowing the emotional response between the adopter and the child – the chemistry – to be taken into account in the matching process, there are some indications that people are more confident about the robustness of the match.
Applying to attend an Activity Day
Plans for future Activity Days will be made available – in the ‘News & Events’ tab – once the arrangements have been agreed for running these events beyond the completion of the pilot project.
Adopters who are keen to attend should speak to their agency so that a referral can be made.
Social workers are encouraged to consider the option of referral to an Adoption Activity Day as early as possible. Although the outcomes appear to be very good, it is important that enough time is available for the preparation work required with the children.
Staff at the Register are more than happy to discuss the possibility of children or adopters attending one of the events and to provide support to agencies, practitioners, adopters and foster carers who are considering attending.