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Strengthening adoption services for children who wait

25 October 2017


Cardiff University and St David’s Children Society have partnered for a project aiming to strengthen adoption services.

Meeting a distinct need identified by the National Adoption Service, experts will support St David’s with a new recruitment strategy for adoptive parents for harder to place children. This includes children over four years old, brothers and sisters, and those with complex needs or medical uncertainty.

Staff will also look to deliver effective inter-agency working between the statutory and voluntary sector.

St David's is a voluntary adoption agency in Wales that recruits, approves and supports families who provide permanent homes for children requiring adoption. A partner in the National Adoption Service, It is the longest serving adoption agency in Wales and has placed over 2,000 children.

Staff will work with University specialists to develop highly innovative and sector-leading adoption services, grounded in nationally identified needs. The combined team – including colleagues from Barnardo’s, Adoption UK and After Adoption – will focus on the development of timely interventions with the overarching aim of preventing escalation into family crisis.

Knowledge transfer

Welsh Government are fully funding the collaboration as a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), a scheme that sees a university graduate (or Associate) apply academic expertise to help an external organisation.

The Associate for this project – Coralie Merchant – will be jointly-supervised by two academic experts, allowing St David’s to benefit from cross-disciplinary expertise.

The project leads are Dr Katherine Shelton, School of Psychology, and Dr Jane Lynch, Cardiff Business School. Dr Shelton is an expert in developmental psychology, focusing on the emergence and maintenance of developmental psychopathology in social contexts during childhood and adolescence. Dr Lynch specialises in social procurement, community benefits of local sourcing, supplier consortia and effective collaboration.

"This is an exciting opportunity for merging two academic discipline areas: psychology and business management."

Professor Jane Lynch Professor of Procurement

Dr Cerith Waters, also of the School of Psychology, will provide additional clinical expertise in the therapeutic needs of vulnerable children.

Coralie said: "I am thrilled to be a part of this ground-breaking project that will have direct outcomes for the lives of adoptive families in Wales. This project offers a unique opportunity to share University knowledge to support the voluntary and statutory sector to work collaboratively together. I am excited to play a role in its development and see the positive outcomes for vulnerable children."

"A lasting impact"

Wendy Keidan, Deputy Director of St David’s Children Society, said: "We are delighted to have the opportunity to partner with Cardiff University in this innovative project. The KTP provides the platform to enable unique collaborative working arrangements with colleagues in the voluntary and statutory sector that will enhance the lifelong outcomes for some of our most vulnerable children."

Dr Shelton said: "This project has emerged as a direct response to Welsh research highlighting the support needs of adoptive families and to the particular challenges facing professionals working to place vulnerable children with prospective adopters..."

"Our aim is for this project to have a lasting impact on the capacity of the adoption sector."

Professor Katherine Shelton Professor

Dr Lynch added: "I look forward to supporting Dr Shelton and St David’s Children’s Society and sincerely hope that in taking a refreshed look at the public procurement process we will help to improve the lives of children who, through no fault of their own, are placed for adoption in Wales."

The University has supported KTPs for over forty years, helping over 250 companies across the world. A previous project involving Dr Shelton created a toolkit for homelessness charity Llamau to support young people.