Sunderland conference adopts a brighter future for siblings

An adoptive family

Sunderland University is hosting a regional conference which shines a spotlight on looked after children and coincides with National Adoption Week (16-22 Oct).

As in previous years, the need to find families for some of the most vulnerable children is at the heart of the week, with the focus this year on siblings. At present there is a national shortage of adopters particularly those able to accommodate sibling groups.

The University’s Department of Social Sciences will host this FREE conference to debate the subjects surrounding adoption, in partnership with regional and national adoption agencies, on Wednesday, October 18, at Sir Tom Cowie Campus, Prospect Building room 009, St Peter’s.

The conference is open to the public, parents, adopters, foster carers, professionals, staff and students.

Conference speakers include Scott Casson-Rennie, Head of Engagement and Delivery at Adoption UK and Colin Maginn, director of Pillars of Parenting, who works with adoptive parents, foster parents, residential child care workers, owners of children's homes and fostering organisations.

University of Sunderland Academic Stephanie Hunter and Kathryn McCabe, Lead for Adoption and Fostering at Together for Children Sunderland, will be discussing how adopters / adoptees can best utilise the Adoption Support Fund (ASF).

There will also be a talk by regionally based Jack Drum Arts, a sustainable business providing cultural opportunities for communities in the region through a range of workshops, courses, touring theatre, music events and cinema.

Conference organiser Stephanie Hunter, a senior lecturer in the School of Social Sciences, said: “Sunderland has hosted a number of successfully attended conferences in this area over the years and we hope once again this year’s event will be well attended.

"I am proud as a university that we can provide free training of this calibre to the people who need it most - adoptive parents, carers and frontline professionals. The excellent speakers reflect years of partnership working by our team. I am particularly delighted Colin Maginn has kindly agreed to deliver his keynote speech free as have other partners of national and international recognition.”

The University and Together for Children have been collaborating on a range of work to ensure young people in the care system, awaiting a permanent home, are given the best possible support to deal with their diverse needs - work which has received praise nationally.

Kathryn McCabe added: “Together for Children is so pleased to be involved in this event. Adoption Week is an opportunity to celebrate adoption and reflect upon what is happening currently. It is significant that issues regarding siblings who require adoptive families are being focused upon, particularly the shortage of prospective adopters who come forward for sibling groups.

“As an agency, we are committed to recruiting, training, assessing and supporting adoptive families who wish to provide a stable and loving family life for siblings. We are sure that the contributors at this event will reflect upon and share relevant experiences and information regarding adoption and specifically, the adoption of siblings.

“We are hugely committed to the knowledge transfer partnership we have with the University and look forward to further partnership working.”

National adoption advisor Al Coates last year described Sunderland's efforts as ‘very positive and proactive’.

The conference is supported by Together for Children Sunderland, After Adoption and Adoption UK. Places are limited due to room capacity, and will be reserved on a first come/first served basis. To take part in this event, email: stephanie.hunter@sunderland.ac.uk

Conference Timetable

09.00-09.30: Sign in

9.30-10.00: Mr Scott Casson-Rennie: Head of Engagement and Delivery Adoption UK, ‘Supporting Adopter Voice’

10.00-10.30 Ms Stephanie Hunter and Kathryn McCabe ‘Sunderland: Utilising ASF for supporting Adopters / Adoptees’

10.30-10.45: Short Break

10.45-11.15: Jack Drum Arts: ‘Employing creative activities in developing new opportunities and supporting wellbeing’.

11.15-12.00: Mr Colin Maginn: Pillars of Parenting: 'Tapping into a powerful source of energy - young people’s strengths!'

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