Supporting you during coronavirus (COVID-19)

We are increasing our offer of virtual support and we're looking at how we can creatively support you, while keeping things running as normally as possible.

[Last updated 16.10 Tuesday 16 June 2020]

Check our Adopt South West Facebook page for up-to-date messages.

We want to reassure you that Adopt South West is doing everything we can to plan and be prepared for what may be ahead of us, using the latest information. We are monitoring and adapting our guidelines and advice to staff and managers to respond to emerging issues and changes. We recognise that many families are going to really struggle within the next few weeks and the months ahead and as a team we are looking at how we can creatively support you.

Updated 4 August 2020:

Step-parent information sessions now virtual

Due to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, we are now able to offer our step parent information sessions virtually. Please contact the team who will book you onto the next available date.

How we can help you using the Adoption Support Fund

The Government (Department for Education) has allocated £8 million from the Adoption Support Fund for adoptive families to meet needs arising from the coronavirus outbreak

We are using our share of the funding to pay for therapies to help adoptive and special guardian families in the south west region to cope in this uncertain time. We are offering you, as an adoptive family, emergency support including online counselling and couples therapy, virtual peer-to-peer support, access to helplines and much more from our providers.
To access the support that is right for you, please contact us through your Adopt South West worker in the usual way, or contact us at adoptsouthwestsupport@devon.gov.uk or through our online form or by calling 0345 155 1076 9.00am-4.00pm Monday to Friday.
We offer a range of resources from sensory practical resources, information on regulating exercises and information, contact from schools, articles and books on anxiety behaviours.
  • We are awaiting approval from the Adoption Support Fund on our application for a peer mentoring service.
  • There are specialist webinars through The Adopter Hub available (under Adopters > Webinars) – please get in touch for a login.
  • Some adopters are already accessing specialist support groups. If this is something your are interested in, please do get in touch.
  • Peer support (virtual) chat groups are happening and virtual adopter groups are running across the region.
  • Many adopters are already accessing support from a clinical psychologist. Contact us for more information if you feel you would benefit from this.
  • Trained social workers and family practitioners are available to offer support and advice through our advice and support line 0345 155 1076.
  • If you would like your child to have a place at school we can liaise with the virtual school in your area – so please do get in touch with us or speak to your social worker. If your child already has a EHCP in place, they will automatically be eligible to be considered for a school place. Virtual schools are in:
    Devon
    Plymouth
    Torbay
    Somerset
    If you require support with your child returning to school please do get in touch.
We have funding for family memberships that are available to adoptive families, please contact us in the usual way to get a login. We have funding for:
We have a list of therapeutic support providers to support families using the COVID-19 Adoption Support Fund (ASF) money. They include some excellent local individual providers services, and established providers such as The Consultancy, Barnardo’s and The Centre for FASD.

Please contact us

If you feel you need support, don’t hesitate to give us a call or contact us by adoptsouthwestsupport@devon.gov.ukor through our online form or by calling 0345 155 1076 9.00am-4.00pm Monday to Friday.
We can apply for Adopt Support Fund money to access the support that is right for you.

Activities for families during COVID-19

We’ve updated our list of resources to support children and young people make sense of coronavirus and aid parents/carers/workers to have difficult conversations about how they might be feeling about it:
Coronavirus – a book for children from Nosy Crow written with Consultant Professor Graham Medley – Professor of Infectious Disease Modelling, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine;
and we have added a great resource pack for parents – from Chroma therapy; Hand-picked resources from Psychology Associates; and We Are Family adoption useful web links. All good stuff!

Local providers and Somerset Parent Carer Forum have created a booklet of activities you can do at home, including virtual opportunities. The web page also includes helpful resources.

And here is a wonderful poem we’ve been sent by a mum to two young adopted children. We thought it may resonate with you, especially if you are struggling to prioritise schooling at the moment under the lockdown during coronavirus (COVID-19).

We still need adopters!

Although it may take us a little longer at the moment, as we are finding our way through these times, we still need adopters for our children. So, if you’re thinking of adopting please do get in touch with our friendly team.

There are many areas of the assessment that we can do virtually and we can certainly help you with things to think about; videos to watch; books to read towards getting you to be in a good place and be ready to adopt. We are offering our information events virtually and want to support you on your adoption journey form the earliest possible stage. If you’re interested in adopting, get your questions answered by contacting us through this online form, or get in touch with us by calling 0345 155 1076 or email adoptsouthwest@devon.gov.uk

As the situation develops we will increase our offer of virtual support while keeping things running as normally as possible.

Virtual information sessions for people considering adoption

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), we are very sad to announce that face-to-face events have been cancelled until further notice. But… we are now holding information sessions virtually and our Business Support Team will be contacting people who are booked to take part in a virtual information session. Our Adopt South West Business Support colleagues will advise prospective adopters when they make their enquiries.

Adopt South West will continue to provide a service for you

We are looking at how we can support our adopters and offer virtual alternatives through webinars, online meetings, Skype and telephone calls – some facilitated by us and some by therapists we work closely with.

Birth families and adopted children

We are looking closely at how we can support contacts between birth family and their adopted children in these challenging and ever-changing time because we recognise how important it is for the child to have this contact with their birth family.

Letterbox exchanges

Currently, our main offices for managing these exchanges (Follaton House and Electric House) are closed to the public and the post room is also closed. This means that any letters sent to the letterbox service will remain in the post room and we will be unable to access them until circumstances change. At this time we don’t know when we will be able to access these letters but we can reassure you that the letters are kept in a secure and confidential place.

Our letterbox coordinators are going through all of the forthcoming contacts to assess whether we are able to facilitate the exchange at this time. However, it is extremely likely that there will be a significant delay in the exchanges at this time and unfortunately, at the moment, we are unable to say how long the delay will be for. We will also be unable to facilitate view-only photos at this time.

To help us facilitate an exchange please email the Adopt South West letterbox, with your name and address to: childsc.adoptsouthwestletterbox-mailbox@devon.gov.uk so that we can confirm your up-to-date email address and as such may be able to facilitate an email exchange.

Direct contact

Unfortunately, due to the latest guidance from the government, we are unable to supervise any direct contacts between birth family and adopted children at this time but we will be discussing this with the people involved to see if there is any other way of enabling some form of contact between the child and the birth family.

Telephone advice and support line

We are extending our advice and support line opening times from Monday 23 March, so the lines will now be open from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm, Monday to Friday, and we have additional staff to help with any increase in the volume of calls we receive until further notice. Remember you can call us on 0345 155 1076.

Contacting you

There is also a requirement to cancel some family events and planned training. We are in the process of contacting parents who are directly affected by any cancellations of any of our events. Please be prepared that we may limit some services while we focus on safeguarding our children at this difficult time.

A number of therapists and organisations that deliver therapeutic support to our families have also been in touch because some face-to-face therapy is put on hold. Some therapists are able to offer alternatives, such as Skype and phone calls. So, if you are worried about how this impacts you and your family, please do contact the therapist/provider directly in the first place. The Adoption Support Fund has been in contact and is offering more flexibility as to how therapies are delivered, where possible.

We are contacting parents who are directly affected by any cancellations.

Cancellation of events and courses

We are very sad to announce that the following events have been cancelled until further notice:
  • Family Farm Days (all days)
  • Music and Mindfulness Sessions (all locations)
  • Art Day
  • RIO group (all sessions)
  • Easter and May half-term events (all events), including the Bear Trail on Saturday 16 May
  • Therapeutic Parenting Course – South Devon, due to start on Tuesday 21 April
  • Beyond Attachment Workshop – presented by Plymouth Virtual School on Thursday 7 May
  • Theraplay Workshops (all workshops).

We are also sending some advice about how parents can support children who will be struggling with anxiety, lack of structure and routine, and how parents can remain calm and regulated in these uncertain times.

If you have questions or would like to talk about support, we are here for you.
Please contact you allocated social worker or you can call us on 0345 155 1076 or email adoptsouthwestsupport@devon.gov.uk or contact us via our online form.

Please take good care of yourselves and stay safe.

Adopt South West