The majority of children who are adopted are aged between 1 and 4 years, and most have been subjected to abuse or neglect. Our Parent-Toddler Group Adoption Project aims to support adoptive families in the early years by strengthening the parent-toddler relationship.

Introduction

Introduction

The early years of a child’s life lay the foundations for their later development, wellbeing and mental health. Adopted children can have some of the most disturbed and traumatising starts in life, and many exhibit a range of serious cognitive, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Research indicates that these difficulties can remain without early intervention; however, very few therapeutic services exist to support adoptive families with toddlers or very young children. To fill this gap, the Parent-Toddler Group Adoption Project adapted and evaluated a therapeutic play group developed at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families (called the Parent-Toddler Group; PTG).

How it works

How it works

The Parent-Toddler Group (PTG) for adoptive parents includes weekly 1.5-hour sessions over six months, co-facilitated by one qualified therapist and one assistant therapist. The model is informed by psychoanalytic, child development, attachment and trauma-informed theory.

The aims of the intervention are to support typical parent-toddler relationship development, as well as those difficulties arising within the context of newly formed adoptive families where the toddler is likely to have experienced early maltreatment and trauma.

Who it is for

Who it is for

This intervention is aimed at adoptive families with toddlers aged from 1 to 3 years. It is currently being delivered in several areas of an urban, inner city area.

Evaluation

Evaluation

An evaluation was conducted of the pilot of The Parent-Toddler Group Adoption Project. The study’s aims were to explore the feasibility of delivering the adapted PTG for adoptive families.

The related research questions were:

  1. Acceptability. What were adoptive parents’ experiences of the intervention? Was it helpful? What clinical or practical concerns arose from delivering the intervention?
  2. Preliminary outcomes. Within the context of a small-scale study, what is the evidence that the adapted PTG is effective in improving clinical outcomes for adoptive families?
  3. Adaptation. What modifications to the PTG model are required for delivery with an adoptive population?

Methods

Families were recruited by adoption social workers and their places were funded via the Adoption Support Fund. Their experience of the intervention was assessed using questionnaires and a focus group post-intervention. Preliminary clinical outcome measures were also recorded by collecting outcome measures pre-and post-intervention.

Findings

The data suggested high rates of acceptability and feasibility. All parents completing the intervention reported high levels of satisfaction with the intervention, as well as that it positively impacted their understanding of their child’s thoughts and feelings. Additional preliminary outcome data suggested positive changes in child development and a positive trend was found for parental mental health and parenting stress across the intervention.

Meet the team

Meet the team

Dr Sarah Peter (Senior Therapist and Trainer – Early Years Programme), Dr Eva Crasnow (Senior Therapist and Trainer – Early Years Programme) and Katja Simoncelli (Therapist and Trainer - Early Years Programme).

 

Contact us

Contact us

To find out more about The Parent-Toddler Group Adoption Project, or how to make a referral, get in touch at EarlyYears@annafreud.org

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