Barnardos Post Adoption Service Evaluation (Executive Summary)

MacDonald, M., Fargas, M., Mooney, S. & Coulter, S. (2021). Barnardos Post Adoption Service Evaluation (Executive Summary).
I would like to welcome the evaluation of Barnardos Post Adoption Children’s Service and the publication of the findings by Dr Mandi MacDonald and her team at Queens University Belfast. It is important that public services are subject to review to ensure value for money and the provision of good quality services to meet the needs of our most vulnerable children and their families. Since 2019 Barnardos have provided a National Post Adoption Service for children, commissioned by the Child and Family Agency, Tusla Adoption service. The service was originally set up in 2009 by Tusla, then known as the HSE Children and Families Directorate, in response to high level of demand from adoptive parents seeking support and advice to assist in the parenting of their adopted children. Many of these children, often having been exposed to early life trauma and abuse in addition to being adopted, required access to a specialised service to address their needs. Barnardos who have a long history of providing a high-quality service to adopted adults, birth mothers and adoptive parents since 1977 were commissioned to provide this. The service was initially offered to children and families in the eastern region but due the level of demand for access to the service from all parts of the country it was subsequently expanded to a national service in 2019. Tusla keenly recognises the need to provide a dedicated and specialist independent post adoption supports to compliment the services provided by our own National Adoption Social Work Teams and TESS, the education support service to children. The challenges these children face often impacts on all aspects of their lives including their attendance at school and their ability to manage the school environment. Barnardos is now working in partnership with Tusla to provide individual and group supports to children and teenagers who were adopted in Ireland as well as from many countries around the world. On foot of the implementation of the Adoption Amendment Act 2017, the service will play a key part in supporting the increasing number of children who are adopted from the foster care system in support of the introduction of permanency planning in the child protection and welfare system. This independent evaluation of the post adoption services for children demonstrates that Tusla’s investment in expanding the service to have a national reach is delivering a high quality and relevant service for adopted children, teenagers, and parents. Families have responded very positively to the range of supports available and the improved accessibility of these supports in terms of their location. There are now Barnardos Post Adoption Centres in Cork and Galway, as well as Dublin. The ongoing needs of this cohort will be continually monitored to ensure equal and easy access for all adopted children in the country to this specialised service. The voices of the young people who took part in the study add to our understanding of the importance of accessible and empathetic professionals to assist them in navigating the complexities of adoption. The voices of the parents emphasise the ongoing need for focussed and specialised post adoption skills to support them with their, sometimes very challenging task, of parenting children who have sustained early loss and trauma. I want to wish adopted children and their families health and happiness in to the future. Tusla, hopes that their partnership with Barnardos through the provision of this specialised service will assist in making this a reality.