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Shocking Figures Shows 75% of Children Released for Adoption Affected by Their Birth Mothers’ Drinking in Pregnancy

Fiona Mactaggart MP for Slough has been part of an Inquiry conducted by the All Party Group on Foetal Alcohol Syndrome to ascertain the current picture of FASD in the UK today. The Inquiry, whose initial report will be released publicly on Wednesday 16th December 2015, discovered that in one authority 75% of children aged 0-5 released for adoption were found to be affected by FASD and, in the same area, a third of children in foster care who attended medicals were also found to be affected by FASD. Anecdotal evidence supplied would indicate this pattern is the same across the UK.

Fiona Mactaggart said ”These shocking figures show that in essence, adoption in the UK in many areas is becoming predominantly a family finding service for children with FASD, and often parents who adopt or foster them have inadequate training about the consequences of this condition.” 

Julia Brown, CEO of The FASD Trust said, “Too much social work practice is still focused on perceived need rather than population need. Attachment and Trauma theory learnt over the last 20 years is still being applied, but the pool of children now entering the adoption system are predominantly children who have significant need due to FASD.”

MPs heard evidence from Martin Clarke of TACT Fostering & Adoption Agency who emphasised the importance of raising awareness amongst social workers, as well as medical practitioners, and of ensuring adopters are fully informed prior to placement. In their written submission, TACT said, “Children with FASD, especially if undiagnosed, can have a disrupted care experience with placement breakdown and moves as their behaviour can be challenging to care for. [Yet] effective, and sometimes simple, mitigation strategies can be put in place.”

With current Government emphasis on increasing and speeding up the adoption process, the APPG on FASD is challenging Government, local authorities and adoption and fostering agencies to closely examine their current policy and procedure to ensure FASD is at the forefront.

In particular, the APPG is recommending that

·         comprehensive training is provided to social workers and other staff so they are fully aware of the issue of FASD

·         that adoption (and fostering) preparation clearly identifies the likelihood of adopting a child with FASD, what FASD is and how to adapt parenting strategies accordingly

·         post-adoption support is appropriately tailored to meet the needs of children with FASD and their parents.