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Navigating Adoption Support 1 Day Conference – Chester

One day Adoption Support Conference in partnership with The University of Chester.


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Join academics, policy makers adoption practitioners, social workers, managers, teachers, adopters, special guardians and adopted adults as we consider:


  • Research and evaluative evidence of different methods of adoption support
  • Innovative approaches to adoption support using real life case studies from the Centre for Adoption Support
  • Educational support for looked after and adopted children

The ‘Navigating Adoption Support’ conference will address adoption support methods and research pertinent to adopters, adopted adults, policy makers, service managers as well as school leaders and professional social work, educational and health practitioners.


The keynote address is to be delivered by Sir John Timpson whose charity the Alex Timpson Trust is funding initiatives that aim to improve the educational experience of all looked after and previously looked after children.


Other confirmed speakers include are listed below.


The day will include an interactive workshop programme and a two course hot lunch.


Adoption Matters & Caritas Care Chief Executives Norman Goodwin, CBE and Amanda Forshaw will welcome you together with the team from the Centre for Adoption Support.


Speakers & Seminar Leaders

Sir John Timpson CBE – Sir John, of the Timpson Group. Together with his late wife Alex, John fostered 90 children over a 30 year period and adopted two sons. John will speak about the Alex Timpson Trust attachment aware programme for schools.

Sir Mark Hedley – Sir Mark is a former barrister and High Court Judge who was involved in adoption issues for more than 40 years, making legal history in 2010 by being the first judge to allow journalists into the Court of Protection. Mark’s own family also both fostered and adopted.

Dr. John Simmonds OBE – Director of Policy, Research and Development at CoramBAAF.  John is a qualified social worker and has substantial experience in child protection, family placement and residential care settings.  He is currently responsible for CoramBAAF’s contribution to the development of policy and practice in social work, health, the law and research.


Dr. Sadie King – Sadie is Principal Researcher / Consultant at the Tavistock Institute and works on evaluation, applied research and organisational development projects.  Lead the evaluation of the Adoption Support Fund (ASF) and is currently working on 3 other evaluations in the field of looked after children.


Al Coates, Dr. Wendy Thornley & Hetty Verhagen – Good practice in working with families affected by Child to Parent Violence and Aggression – different perspectives.


Al Coates MBE is a qualified social worker and Dad to his six adopted children. Through his blog ‘Misadventures of an adoptive Dad’ Al was awarded the First4Adoption National Adoption Week blogger of the year twice in 2015 & 2016.  Al has also co authored the 2016 and 2018 Child on Parent Violence Surveys and subsequent reports, was on the Department for Education (DfE) Expert Advisory group on Adoption Support and is a current member of the DfE Adopter Reference Group.  Al was also awarded an MBE in 2018, for Services to Children.


Hetty Verhagen is Practice Manager at the Centre for Adoption Support and has been at the Centre since 2013.


Dr. Wendy Thorley specialist areas of interest are children who have experienced loss or trauma (including mental well-being impact, children in care, adopted families, kinship families), NMT and child on parent violence. Wendy co authored the 2016 and 2018 Child on Parent Violence Surveys and subsequent reports with Al Coates.


Dr. Katherine Shelton – School of Psychology, Cardiff University,  is a developmental psychologist with 20 years’ experience of research and teaching in the field of family functioning and child development. She is particularly interested in links between couple and parent-child relationship quality and children’s well-being. Over the past 4 years, Katherine has led an inter-disciplinary study investigating the experiences and early support needs of adoptive families and their children (the Wales Adoption Cohort Study). A recent collaborative project has used this evidence base in the development of the Adopting Together project, which seeks to offer tailored support to adopters through assessment, enhanced training and therapeutic interventions both before during and after placement. The aim of the project is to meet the needs of the highest priority children in Wales – those who are older, part of a sibling group and/or those with complex needs.


Dr. Neil Harrison & Helen Trivedi, The Rees Centre, University of Oxford  –Emerging findings from the Alex Timpson Programme on Attachment and Trauma


Dr Neil Harrison is Deputy Director of the Rees Centre at the University of Oxford.  He has worked with children in care in various guises since the early 2000s, including serving on Bristol’s Corporate Parenting Panel and Virtual School governing body, and is the author of the Moving On Up study into care-experienced students in higher education.


Helen is a Researcher at Rees Centre, University of Oxford and is currently involved in a research project on adopted children in Australia.


Adoption UK


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