Training and mentoring scheme provides 'tangible benefits' to adopters

New research highlights the effectiveness of parenting training schemes and mentors in supporting adopters.

Children’s charity Coram evaluated the Restorative Parenting Training (RPT) programme and mentoring scheme ran by Cornerstone – a social enterprise working to improve the life chances of children in the care system.

The findings are included in a new report, published ahead of Big Adoption Day tomorrow (29 March).

As part of the intiative, which is organised by the Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies in England, a number of events for prospective adopters will take place across the country. Coram is hosting free information events at its offices in London, Cambridge, and Shepshed, near Loughborough.

The Restorative Parenting Training (RPT) programme is a course and webinar programme which teaches adopters, either pre-or post placement, about parenting techniques and attachment theory. Cornerstone’s mentoring scheme provides adopters with additional support and advice about the process of becoming or being an adoptive parent from a volunteer adopter.

Coram's evaluation is based upon an online survey of 61 adopters who were questioned about their experiences of either RPT and/or mentoring. The charity also interviewed 18 adopters, four social workers from two local authorities, and analysed data about 43 adopters provided by four local authorities.

Findings gathered from both the adopter survey and interviews revealed that Cornerstone’s schemes, mentoring and RPT, impacted positively in a number of ways on adopter’s experiences during their adoption journey.

Restorative Parenting Training programme (RPT)

Those who attended RPT and had a child placed with them said they had noticed positive changes in their child’s behaviour. The majority of adopters, 94 per cent, said that the course would benefit, or already has benefitted, their adopted child.

Other findings include:

  • 94 per cent of adopters either strongly agreed or agreed that RPT equipped them with effective techniques and strategies to parent an adopted child;
  • 87 per cent strongly agreed or agreed that the course helped them feel  more confident to parent a child who has experienced trauma;
  • the training appeared to be most useful to adopters in the early placement stage of adoption;
  • adopters said that RPT helped them to think about what sort of children they could parent effectively, making a difference to knowing how to proceed in their adoption journey.

Mentoring scheme

The evaluation found that 79 per cent of adopters who had a mentor through Cornerstone’s scheme were 'very satisified' or 'satisified' with the experience. They described the scheme as unique because it offers support from someone who has already gone through the adoption process, increasing parental confidence and making their experience as an adopter feel ‘more normal’.

Most adopters said they would turn to their mentor for support before contacting their social worker and could ask their mentor questions they might feel nervous asking the local authority. Coram says the findings suggest that the mentoring scheme helps to reduce demands on social workers and frees up more of their time.

Another key finding was that both RPT and the mentoring scheme on top of the standard Stage 2 adopter training - a requirement of prospective adopters - made adopters more ‘appealing’ to matching panels. As a result, a high proportion of Cornerstone adopters were matched with children outside of their own local authority.

Helen Costa, chief executive of Cornerstone, said, 'We know that introducing authentic, user-led support at the start of the adoption journey can have a very significant positive impact for children and parents.
'Now for the first time, with this report we can clearly evidence of those tangible benefits for both families and local authorities. By giving adopters confidence in the task of adoptive parenting and, crucially, the right tools at the right time as well as emotional support, we have been able to show this facilitates the placement of children with more complex needs and - for the first time – hard evidence of a perceptible and positive change in the relationship between parent and child.
'I am now calling on all adoption services to embed the principles and best practice demonstrated in this report so that the benefits we have demonstrated can be felt by all adoptive families.'

Big Adoption Day


Speaking about Big Adoption Day, Jeanne Kaniuk, managing director of adoption at Coram said, 'Adoption brings much needed life-long stability to our most vulnerable children. We are here to guide people through the rewarding and life-changing process and are proud to provide life-long support for all families who adopt with us.
'We welcome enquiries from people of all backgrounds – the most important thing is that they are able to provide a safe, secure and loving family for a vulnerable child. Our Big Adoption Day information events offer a great opportunity for anyone interested to take the first step in finding out more about adoption and speak to those with first-hand experience.'

  • Follow Big Adoption Day on social media using the hashtags #BigAdoptionDay and #SupportAdoption


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