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An evaluation of the AdOpt parenting programme

Research report

This report highlights the main findings from an evaluation of the AdOpt parenting programme as implemented by the National Implementation Service (NIS). The evaluation of the AdOPt programme was commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE), and is part of the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme. AdOpt is a group-based parenting programme, adapted and further developed from a US-based programme (KEEP) for application within the UK. The overall programme has been specifically designed for adoptive parents to help facilitate parenting techniques and supports that address specific difficulties which adopted children may experience. The intervention is informed by contemporary research in the areas of neuroscience and developmental psychology (social learning and attachment theory models of development). The programme is suitable for adoptive parents of children aged between 3 – 8 years, both pre- and post-adoption (ideally within the first 2 years of placement). The AdOpt programme is designed as a preventative programme to help parents understand and respond to the often complex needs of their adopted children. AdOpt groups are delivered by 2 trained facilitators, at least one of whom is either an adoptive parent or has substantial experience in the adoption field, and one other facilitator who has experience in social care and in background theory linked to the programme. Sessions are 90 minutes long and run weekly for 16 weeks. Further details regarding the operational mechanics of the programme can be found in the ‘Introduction’ section of the report.

The present programme evaluation engaged a cohort of participants and ran from September 2015 to March 2016, while also utilising existing pilot data which had been collected by the NIS across a 2-year period. This allowed evaluation of the efficacy of the AdOpt programme in relation to improved parenting capabilities among participating parents and adopted children’s behavioural outcomes assessed across the programme period. The evaluation also incorporated systematic qualitative evaluation of parents’ and facilitators’ experiences of the AdOpt programme, as well as an analysis of available and relevant Local Authority (LA) data to ascertain the efficacy of the AdOpt programme relative to other available programmes targeting adoptive families, parents and children (see ‘Project objectives’ section of the main report, page 11).