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The Parent-Toddler Group Adoption Project

Adopted children can have some of the most disturbed and traumatising starts in life, and many show serious emotional and behavioural difficulties.

There are very few therapeutic services to support adoptive families with toddlers or very young children.

At the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, we run Parent-Toddler Groups. These are aimed at strengthening parent-toddler relationships. We adapted our Parent-Toddler Group to be used with adoptive families.

Here, we set out the learning from our evaluation of the Parent-Toddler Adoption Project.

Feasibilitiy Study

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, we adapted our Adoption Parent-Toddler Group to be delivered online.

We found that parents liked the online group because they didn’t need to travel and felt more at ease at home, but they missed the opportunity for their children to play together in-person and sometimes had difficulties with their computer or phone equipment.

We also found some positive changes in child development and parental warmth. However, we recommend that this group is routinely delivered in a face-to-face setting because it is more challenging to therapeutically observe and respond to toddlers and their families on screen.

This was a small-scale evaluation which drew on learning from the delivery of the third and fourth group carried out in 2021 and 2022. The qualitative data suggested that parents valued the intervention and described a number of positive elements, including gaining an increased understanding of their child, feeling safe and contained in the group environment, and feeling that their confidence grew as parents. The facilitators also highly valued the intervention and observed positive changes in the parent-child relationships. Limited quantitative data was collected and mostly at the pre-intervention time point.