Child & Family Service
PAC-UK's Child & Family Service provides specialist support for children and families brought together by adoption or other forms of permanent placement. Click on the hyperlinks below for detailed information on the services we offer.
- Specialist Child & Family Service
- Assessment Services
- Therapeutic Services
- Child to Parent Violence Services
- Adopteens (formerly AT-iD Project)
- Education and Peer Services
- Professional consultation and collaboration
- Referrals, fees and funding
- Further information
Please note, adoptive parents and special guardians are all referred to as ‘parents’ on this page.
We have specific expertise in providing assessments and therapeutic interventions to families whose children experienced developmental trauma prior to their adoption/permanent placement.
Developmental trauma occurs when a child experiences chronic interpersonal trauma including emotional, physical, sexual abuse, as well as significant disruptions in protective caregiving due to absent carers (neglect) or multiple separations from attachment figures.
Developmental trauma often results in a child having considerable attachment difficulties, self-regulation difficulties and difficulties in reaching age appropriate milestones with regards to their social-emotional and cognitive functioning. In addition, there can be classic PTSD symptoms (as well as a host of other difficulties that may be related to other issues such Autism, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, ADHD, etc).
Developmental trauma: exposure to multiple forms of chronic, interpersonal maltreatment that start in early childhood and take place within the child’s caregiving system either simultaneously or sequentially; the overall impact of developmental trauma can be summarised as the impairment of the capacity for Attachment, Self-Regulation and age appropriate Competencies which can lead to long term problems (i.e. into adulthood).Cook, A., Blaustein, M., Spinazzola, J., and van der Kolk, B. (2003). ‘Complex Trauma in Children and Adolescents - White Paper.’ National Child Traumatic Stress Network Complex Trauma Task Force
Most of our face-to-face services are offered at PAC-UK's offices in London and Leeds though some services may be offered in only one of these locations. Certain services are provided in the family’s home if appropriate and funding allows for travel costs.
We are an experienced team that work well together. We look forward to working with parents and children referred to us. Please view our individual staff profiles. The range of our services we offer is set out below.
Initial parent and/or family consultation are offered to 1) undertake an initial assessment of the presenting difficulties and 2) to make an initial recommendation for further assessment and or intervention and 3) to give information on some practical therapeutic parenting strategies and other resources for the parents.
A number of one-off parent and family consultations may be available free of charge if the family lives in a local authority that PAC-UK has an annual contract with.
For any adoptive or special guardian family that wishes to pursue further specialist assessment and/or intervention, the local authority (LA) must complete an ‘adoption support assessment’/a ‘special guardian support assessment’ before the LA can apply for funding from the Adoption Support Fund (ASF).
A specialist child/family assessment is typically requested by the parents and the child’s local authority. After an initial parent or family consultation followed by a discussion with the local authority, we will read through the child’s Placement Report and other relevant information and put an assessment proposal together.
This proposal may include:
- assessment of the parent-child interaction and relationship
- assessment of attachment representations
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) assessment
- cognitive assessment of child
- social communication assessment and autism screening
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHS) screening
- Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) screening
- sibling assessment
- parenting stress assessment
A selection of the assessment methods as set out below will also be specified.
With individual children:
- projective methods such as the Art Therapy Attachment Potential Assessment, the Story Stem Assessment Profile, sand-tray with miniature figures, a Sentence Completion test
- questionnaires and standardised psycho-diagnostic tests regarding current family functioning, effects of past traumas/PTSD, and resilience
With children and parents together:
- the Marshak Interaction Method (MIM): an observation of structured child – parent activities based on Theraplay® principles
- other family interaction observations with play activities, music and creative arts
- where needed a sibling observation – pre or post placement - again with structured play and games, music and creative arts
With parents/carers/teachers - regarding the child:
- questionnaires as well as standardised psycho-diagnostic tests concerning the child’s life story, attachment patterns, self-regulation, behaviour, PTSD symptoms, executive functioning, identity, sibling relationships, education concerns, and last but not least the child’s strengths
With parents/carers - regarding themselves:
- questionnaires and standardised psycho-diagnostic tests regarding parenting and the parents’ own histories, attachments/traumas, self-regulation, support network
- projective methods using creative arts and sand-tray with miniature figures
- the ‘Attachment Style Interview’
Our assessment methods can be used for contributing to a pre-adoption assessment of a child’s placement needs and future support. This service is also available for special guardianship children. An assessment of adopted children’s contact needs and arrangements with birth family members can be undertaken too.
Some of our assessment methods can be used to contribute to assessments of prospective adopters and other permanent carers. We can provide an assessment of a parent’s own attachment/loss/trauma issues.
Additional assessments by specialists associated with, or recommended by PAC-UK may be advised, such as a Sensory Integration and Processing assessment, a Neuro-Developmental assessment, a Child/Adolescent Psychiatric assessment.
Therapeutic services are usually requested by the parents and the child’s local authority. Therapeutic services may be preceded by a specialist assessment (see above,) though a different agency may have undertaken an assessment, or the local authority’s adoption/special guardianship support assessment will provide sufficient information to start with a therapeutic intervention.
We will put an intervention proposal together which may include any, or a combination of the below:
- intensive therapeutic parent sessions to support parents in becoming ‘therapeutic parents’
- intensive therapeutic family sessions: mostly with one child and the parent/s
- individual therapy sessions for children and adolescents – usually in the context of therapeutic family work
- early intervention and home parenting programme (incl. the Enhancing Adoptive Parenting Programme)
- therapeutic contact work with adoptive/special guardianship family and birth family members
- adoption disruption support
- individual sessions for parents who wish/need to process aspects of their own loss, attachment, trauma history
A selection of the below available therapeutic methods will also be specified.
Our main therapeutic methods are listed below. Either click here or on the below hyperlinks to be taken to a page which lists detailed information on each method and how it is used.
- Theraplay® and Theraplay® informed Practice
- Creative therapies
- Art therapy
- Play therapy
- Individual Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy
- Therapeutic Life Story Work – TLSW
- Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy -DDP (and interventions based on DDP)
- Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing - EMDR
- Therapeutic parenting strategies
- Enhancing Adoptive Parenting - EAP
- Non-Violent Resistance - NVR
- A combination of therapeutic approaches
- Engagement with professional network
- telephone/email contact with parents at times of crisis
- regular telephone/email liaison with social worker/other professionals (as needed)
- telephone/email liaison with school (as needed)
- network meetings with the social worker and other professionals involved with the child/the family
The following are our ‘aimed for outcomes’. Although not all will be achieved, we generally do see positive changes in both the child’s presentation and the parents’ parenting.
- parents’ attunement and empathic understanding of their child improves
- parents’ management of the child’s challenging behaviour improves
- in two parent families: parents’ team work improves
- child’s emotional regulation and behaviour improves
- child’s relationships and attachment security with parents improves
- child’s narrative of their early life becomes more coherent due to improved integration of past traumas and early life experiences
- child’s sense of adoptive and where relevant ethnic identity becomes clearer
- child’s engagement with learning improves
- family life improves for all family members – more positive times together and hope for a future together is restored
To evaluate these outcomes parents and children are given pre- post-intervention questionnaires that provide some measurement of change. In addition, the post-intervention questionnaires provide valuable feedback about the family’s satisfaction with the service received, the aspects they found most/least helpful and the ongoing challenges they still face. All the evaluation and feedback received contributes to recommendations made with regards to further adoption support services for the family and to reviews and possible adjustments to services offered at PAC-UK.
Child to Parent Violence (CPV) is a pattern of physical, psychological and emotional behaviour used by children and adolescents to gain control or power over their parent/s or carers. In families who experience CPV, it is the children or young people who hold the power within the relationship.
CPV is a serious issue for many families, which is often misunderstood or overlooked. It can be a difficult and seemingly impossible task for parents and carers to acknowledge that this is happening in their family.
As an adoptive parent, seeking help for a child who is displaying such behaviours can be a very shaming experience which can, in turn, prevent parents from accessing the support they need.
PAC-UK offers a broad range of specialist CPV services for parents, carers and professionals (including CPV Awareness Raising Workshops, CPV Parent Groups, individualised CPV support and specialist training for professionals). These services are approved for funding by the Adoption Support Fund.
Visit our Child to Parent Violence Services page for more information.
Adopteens is a project commissioned by One Adoption and delivered by PAC-UK which is available to all adopted young people aged 11+ who live in the Yorkshire and Humber area.
Once your registration to become a member has been approved, you gain access to the Adopteens online chat forum (a safe online space where adoptees can talk, share, rant, giggle and support each other); you can also attend activity days (held four times a year) and members aged 13+ can join the Adopteens Youth Council (where you can attend workshops with the aim of using views and experiences to help professionals and policy makers).
Children and young people who have experienced early life trauma can experience a range of challenges in school. The Department for Education is increasingly recognising the long term impact of trauma and loss. PAC-UK's Education Service offers a range of services to enable schools, parents and guardians and education and social care professionals to meet the needs of children who have experienced difficult starts in life.
Adoptive parents and special guardians seek different types of support at different times. PAC-UK and Adoption UK’s Peer Services provide one-to-one parent support, as well as training programmes delivered by qualified and experienced adoptive parents.
We offer professional consultation for any professionals working with adoption and permanency. We can contribute to assessments the local authority may wish to undertake. See also the other available assessments section on this page.
For most, (though not all) of PAC-UK’s Child and Family services, funding can be accessed from the Adoption Support Fund (ASF) via the parents’ local authority, or the child’s local authority if the adoption order was finalised less than three years ago and the child’s local authority is different from the parents’.
The Adoption Support Fund provides funding for adopted/special guardian children and young people up to 21 years old. If a young person has an Educational Statement/EHCP (Education and Health Care Plan) the ASF can provide funding until the young person is 25 years old.
An application to the Adoption Support Fund needs to be made by the local authority after consultation with both the parents and an adoption support provider such as PAC-UK. Once the ASF agrees the funds, these are made available to the family via the local authority.
The First4Adoption website provides detailed information on why the fund was setup, how it works and what support is eligible for funding, and the Adoption UK website has useful ASF guides, statistics and a great FAQ's sections.
Occasionally funding can be secured from other sources (such as a Clinical Commissioning Group or health insurance). Private funding is welcome too.
Please contact us for more information on fees.
Information for Children and Young People (aged 8 years and older)
As an adopted or special guardian child or young person you may have some questions about what PAC-UK is, and what it would be like if you and your parents/carers came to see us. This page will hopefully answer some of your questions.
Information for Children and Young People (8 years and younger)
As an adopted or special guardian child you may have some questions about what PAC-UK is, and what it would be like if you and your parents/carers came to see us. Do ask your mum or dad to read this page. It will hopefully answer some of your questions.
Intensive Therapeutic Support for Adoptive Families & Families with Permanently Placed Children & Adolescents
Description of therapeutic process.