Support for Adoptive Families

From time to time I receive books for review, particularly where they address the issue of child to parent violence and abuse. Where appropriate, I am pleased to comment on the content and provide comments for review. The new publication from Louise Allen, How to Adopt a Child, Your step-by-step guide to adoption and parenting, was one such book, and I was interested to find out about her comprehensive knowledge and experience of the adoption system. I have attached the review as submitted. You can purchase Louise’s book on Amazon (or through your local independent bookshop!) and you can read more about Louise’s work on her website.

Louise Allen makes it clear from the very first pages that this is a book with adoptive parents and their children at its heart. She writes from personal experience, laying out every aspect of the adoption process, in order that those thinking about adoption might have no surprises later. Not to put people off – unless that is the right response – but to leave you fully informed, fully armed, fully prepared to offer the support, the healing and love that will be needed. There is much about trauma, which will feature heavily for children who find themselves in need of a home. Allen pulls no punches in describing what this looks and feels like for the child, and the consequential feelings for the adults, but she goes on to offer very practical advice that comes from many years of training, parenting, and above all listening to children. As she says, “Living with a violent child that you have committed to love while everyone around you is offering their opinion is hard, very hard”. Allen is here to make it just a little less hard.

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Raising Funds to support the work #CPV

One of the hazards of seeing a need and responding to it is the constant need to raise funds to support the work. Grants may be available, but many organisations also adopt innovative and creative means. Family Based Solutions in Enfield come to mind with their Christmas single!

I recently received a request from Jane Griffiths of Capa First Response to highlight her planned sponsored walk – and I am pleased to advertise it here:

SPONSORED WALK TO RAISE AWARENESS OF CHILD TO PARENT ABUSE

Capa First Response CIC (Capa) is an online support resource for families and professionals. Capa works with the whole family, offering support and strategies to look at ways to communicate positively and repair fractured relationships, leading to reduced violence and abuse in the home. 

Since setting up in May 2020 Capa has supported over 250 families and professionals seeking support and advice, through our training, supervision, 121’s and advice and support sessions. 

To raise awareness of this issue and funds to continue the free services we offer, Jane the founder of Capa is completing a virtual sponsored walk. 

“The first parent who contacted Capa almost a year ago  lived in Powys, Wales and the first professional to contact me was from Kent, that is a distance of 197 miles. I decided I would walk this distance to help raise awareness and funds. I can’t physically walk between the two due to restrictions so instead I will be walking around my home county East Sussex. Starting on the 1st May I plan to walk almost 200 miles by the end of the month”. 

Jane is looking to reach a target of £5,000 which will enable Capa to deliver 50 FREE advice and support sessions and 50 FREE 121 sessions to families.

“It is estimated that up to 3% of families in the UK are impacted by child to parent abuse, the biggest plea I hear from parents is tell me ‘I am not alone’.

I set up Capa to support anyone , anywhere impacted by this issue including children, adolescents, parents, carers and professionals unsure of how or were  to find help”. 

You can help by donating what you can at:

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jane-griffiths-2

Or walk with Jane.

You can choose to walk a few miles or the whole distance and anything in between, email Capa for information on how you can walk to raise awareness.

info@capafirstresponse.org

Your donations can make a huge difference to families lives

‘I contacted you in February and you were a saviour, when I needed to nip my daughter’s behaviour in the bud before it got worse. I wanted to say thank you and say how much you helped me and how understanding you were. Just those 3 sessions helped me understand how I could help my daughter. It’s still working and my daughter is now back in school. Thankyou’. 

(Parent accessing advice and support sessions)

‘I had an argument with my mum this week, it didn’t turn violent though I went to my room and tried to stay away’. (14 yr old accessing 121 support) 

For more information about Capa First Response CIC visit 

www.capafirstresponse.org

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“An escalation of distressed behaviour”

I was interested to read this paper from the Chief Social Workers for England, when it was published at the end of February. A spectrum of opportunity: an exploratory study of social work with autistic young people and their families looks at three things:

  • how responsive social workers were to the needs of young adults and their families
  • what barriers there were to enable more effective interventions
  • how things could be done differently to improve outcomes

I won’t go in to detail about the main body of the report – it is straightforward and easy to read, so I recommend it to you. It talks about what works well and what needs to be done better. Unsurprisingly, it points to the importance of the development of specialist knowledge in social workers, joined up work across agencies, and earlier intervention and proactive support to provide help before things go wrong; with the centrality of long-term trusting relationships between families and workers. Sadly, there is mention once again of parents’ fears of being labelled as ‘bad’ or ‘failing parents’.

Continue reading

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Taking #CPV Services online, Part 4 (or possibly part 5)

With a hope that we may be starting to see the beginnings of the end of lockdown, we are reminded that we won’t be seeing a wholesale return to ‘life as we once knew it’; and there are plenty of discussions about what the new normal will look like. So it’s not too late to bring you another in the series of learning from lockdown and taking services online! Hopefully there might be something here that is interesting to you, or can help inform the wider changes …

The team working at Family Based Solutions (FBS) have been delivering support to families experiencing child to parent violence and abuse since they were established (as PAARS) in 2013. As a specialist organisation, they have developed real expertise in this field, but part of their success is that they are able to offer a holistic, wrap around response to families, addressing any and all issues they face and which may be contributing to the break in relationships. Taking advantage of training opportunities, they have now adopted a Solution Focussed approach, which they have found enables families themselves to recognise the way through and to re-establish parental authority and respect. 

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What do we actually know about #CPV?

An odd question for me to be asking perhaps after all this time! I was very struck by the recent paper from Amanda Holt and Sam Lewis talking about the ways that child to parent violence is variously constructed by government and by practitioners, and the implications of this for practice. The starting positions we take, the assumptions we make may well be unconscious, but if it has taught us nothing else, CPV has surely taught us that we need to examine every assumption, challenge every preconception and get ready to believe the apparently impossible! That said, the debate as to where CPV “sits” (not quite domestic abuse, not quite juvenile delinquency, not quite safeguarding) does continue to grind on – albeit very slowly. Continue reading

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Co-producing a new #C/APV programme in Kent

Having spent the last few months thinking about the issues of delivering work to families online, interviewing practitioners (here and here) and a parent, and reading commentary and reports, I have formed in my head a series of questions, the responses to which seem fundamental to safe and respectful delivery of this particular type of work:

  1. Power. Who is defining the problem, the need, and the appropriate response? What demands are made in terms of compliance and availability? How are solutions negotiated and achieved?
  2. Technology. Access to devices, to broadband, to knowledge and skills.
  3. Space / Time. The possibility of being able to think clearly and speak safely. The possibility of making use of suggestions made within current family life. The possibility of escape.
  4. Monitoring of risk and safety. Awareness of coercive and controlling behaviours and their impact on the ability to monitor this remotely.
  5. Knowledge and skill sets. Including confidence in the issues and in technology, curiosity, creativity.

All of the work I have looked at so far has been designed originally for face-to-face delivery, and then adapted for online work. In contrast, The Kent Adolescent to Parent Violence programme for families with children aged 10-18 experiencing Child and Adolescent to Parent Violence (C/APV), currently being developed and piloted in Kent, has been written almost entirely with online delivery in mind. It was interesting then to see how these questions had been considered and answered. Elaine Simcock, Practice Development Officer within the CYP Directorate talked me through it. Continue reading

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A New Documentary about #CPVA

Capa First Response, a support and advice organisation helping families and professionals impacted by child to parent abuse, has recently been in talks with a production company to produce a documentary about child to parent violence and abuse.

This project wants to hear from any families willing to share their stories around this issue, in particular any families where the behaviour is now historic and your relationship with your child has improved. We are also looking to speak with families where the behaviour is ongoing and you would be willing to talk about this. The project is not trying to recreate a fly on the wall documentary but  look at why this behaviour happens, how it presents itself, the difficulties parents face when it comes to friends, families and authorities.
If you are interested please email Capa UK for more information.

You will be aware that there have been a number of television programmes in recent years which have centred on children’s violence towards their parents. Some of these have been more sympathetic than others, largely depending on the aims of the producers and the “story” they have chosen to tell. Understandably there is great reluctance to expose painful and very personal situations in this way, and to potentially create a document that is there to view for the rest of your and your child’s life. Sometimes it is possible to remain anonymous, for the producers to use actors or for faces to be pixellated out. Sometimes producers are keen to show “actual families” to make the story “more convincing” – but it also depends on what the story is. I have personally met with researchers who are very aware of the issues and want to make something that is not sensationalist. Sometimes these initial ideas come to nothing, Sometimes they move forward slowly!

I will always advise parents to think very carefully before committing to anything like this. To ensure they have considered all the implications and that they have proper support in place. Nevertheless, it must be an individual decision and so I continue to publicise requests when they land in my in-tray, particularly if they come from people I know and trust.

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Taking #CPV services online, Part 3

Welcome to 2021 as we in Britain face the prospect this week of further restrictions, even as the COVID vaccine becomes available! This time last year many of us would have been very sceptical about delivering services online, or even working from home, yet here we are – struggling with some aspects admittedly, but wondering whether some things work better in fact, and vowing to keep them on in future; and so I bring you the third part in a series looking at issues around taking services for families experiencing CPVA online. The last few months have seen the publication of numerous reports into life and service effectiveness under the pandemic, and I am particularly conscious of recent research highlighting the problem of parent participation in work with children’s services around child protection. While different circumstances pertain to work with families experiencing violence from their own children, this has also highlighted issues of power in the relationship with those who use our services, which we do well to remember and attend to in all our plans and delivery.

Back in July and August I spoke with a team delivering the Who’s in Charge? Programme online, and with a parent, and remained keen to examine the impact of the changes for those working directly with young people causing harm in the home. This was reinforced for me by the recent HMIP report, highlighting the need for changes in the delivery of support to families experiencing child and adolescent to parent violence, so it was good to be able to speak to a practitioner using the Respect Young People’s Programme (RYPP) for IDAS in Yorkshire. Continue reading

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What a year!

I would like to thank all those who have worked tirelessly to help families experiencing child to parent violence and abuse through an extraordinarily difficult time. Whether professionally, or as a good friend or family member, that time and support may have been the thing that kept them going. It has been amazing to see the way that work has been adapted to enable things to keep going. New research has both added to the knowledge we have and confirmed some of the things we suspected. Additional media attention means that more of the public are aware that this is an issue, hopefully changing attitudes along the way. And conversations have started at a more strategic level, which we hope will bear fruit in the next months.

For those parents that read this, we are in awe of the work you do day to day!

So, wishing everyone that reads this the strength and stamina to make and enjoy a peaceful time over the next week. We are very much a team in this work. We all hold a piece of the puzzle. We all need each other. We wait for hope and better news in 2021.

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New VAWG consultation open

The Home Office has launched a Call for Evidence to help inform the development of the next Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy for England and Wales (2021 – 2024). The consultation runs for 10 weeks, closing on 19th February 2021. This will be the third iteration of the VAWG strategy, and although the first 2 have included mention of child and adolescent to parent violence, the content and resulting action has been disappointingly little so far. (See more in my blog posts about this here and here.)

There is a move to consider Domestic Abuse crimes specifically and separately in a consultation to follow Royal Assent of the Domestic Abuse Bill next year. However, it is recognised that this will also be included within the VAWG strategy. Views are sought from those with lived experience of, or views on crimes considered as violence against women and girls. This includes those involved in research, in preventative work, or in the development of and provision of services. The government is particularly interested to hear from those who feel under-represented in previous strategies, or whose needs are not currently supported.

This will be an excellent opportunity to attract further attention to the issue of child and adolescent to parent violence at higher strategic level, so please do consider taking part. While we would want to divert young people from the criminal justice system in terms of response, there are many instances where actions might be considered crimes, and parents choose to involved the police for their own safety and that of their young person. It is currently through police data that we are building a picture of the range and prevalence of behaviour; and with ongoing work training police in recognising and responding to C/APV it is arguably even more important that it gains greater recognition at government level.

There are a number of ways to submit evidence, which are all outlined on the relevant Government website pages, but the easiest way is to complete the public survey.

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