With the outbreak of COVID-19 we are all living in unprecedented times and are working hard to keep the wheels turning to enable us to continue through with the adoption process as best we can.

One of the ways we are doing this is by working closely with local authorities to find a way to keep moving forward with visits for potential matches. This is still a work in progress in establishing what common software for audio/video access we have or can install to enable us to bring the adopters, agency workers and local authority workers together to best replicate that of a home visit.

We are pleased to say that within days of the imposed restrictions we successfully carried out a virtual home visit which resulted in a link and is now moving forward towards a virtual matching panel. It will be difficult to know
exactly what format each of these virtual visits may take as this will vary between authorities.

However, we will ask this in advance of your meeting and help you to prepare, providing you with some reassurances as to how the meeting will be conducted.

For those of you who this affects we have put together a few tips and recommendations of how you might best prepare for your on line meeting:

  • It will be important for your social worker to support you during this call albeit remotely, so we’ll make sure all parties are available to make a contribution. They will be there to support you with any questions you may have and can also answer any questions directly regarding our agency and how we will support you and the child/children when they are placed with you.
  • You might like to begin putting a list of questions together after reading the Child’s placement report (CPR) so that any that may be a bit more involved, which may require a more in depth answer we can send those in advance to the social worker.
  • Having knowledge about the facilities for children in your local area, that you can describe during your call it will be helpful, this can be anything from health to leisure.  Also having some awareness of your local schools such as their class sizes, Ofsted ratings and what experience of supporting cared for children may be useful.
  • You may also want to note down the training you have undertaken and books you may have read since your approval, especially around therapeutic parenting and attachment which is often discussed.  There may even be time to access further online training prior to your call if you can, especially those courses that may be applicable to the needs of the child/children you are considering. Remember that you have access to online training via Adopters for Adoption.
  • Social workers are always keen to learn more about what direct experience you have of interacting with children and therefore this is your chance to get some last minute practice in if you can. If you can draw on a few examples to talk about during your call that would be great.  Perhaps you will have a funny story to share or can describe a time when you may have had sole care for a child.
  • Another subject that social workers are always keen to cover is your support network and reassurance about who can be both practically and emotionally available to you when a child is placed, so if you can be mindful of this you will more easily be able to share this information.
  • Most importantly, as you may be somewhat restricted on your video call especially with regards to body language, it will be important to come across as enthusiastic and totally child focussed about how you feel you can meet the needs of the child or children in question, including sharing how and why you felt drawn to them initially and having read more about them and how you envisage their life will be with you if you are lucky enough to be matched with them.

Local authorities are likely approach these meetings differently and social workers will all have a different style. The workers involved may already have read most or all of this information in your PAR, but they may also like to hear it first hand from you. They may ask you some , all, or none of the above but better to be prepared.

One of our families expressed that it would be a shame not to be able to offer the usual tea and refreshments of a face to face visit. However, we think that it may be nice to perhaps have a couple of cakes and a pot of tea to hand to offer it virtually. It may help to break the ice a little at the beginning of the conversation whilst also showing your
welcoming nature albeit from a distance.

Because first impressions really do count, giving thought to where your video camera is angled and what can be seen behind it and to how you present yourselves is wise.