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Partnership working benefits foster and adoptive families in Suffolk

Article By: Suffolk Mental Health Partnership

A mental health service for fostered and adopted children has been working closely with other organisations to provide a better experience for Suffolk families.

Connect - a joint venture between Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (SMHP) and Suffolk County Council - is an innovative service that provides specialist services for looked after and adopted children with attachment difficulties, developmental trauma, emotional and relational issues.

Connect has been developing additional support services for families and training opportunities for professionals by working together with other organisations. The service is already getting positive feedback from a joint initiative launched earlier in 2011 between the post adoption service and Connect Service to improve access to family therapy for adoptive families.

“This initiative came out of the Trust and local authority working positively together and identifying family therapy as a need for some of our adoptive families,” said Denise Ogilvie, Connect Service Manager. “The initiative is also jointly funded and both services can refer families that may benefit from the therapy.

“One of Connect’s core beliefs is that partnership working is vital to provide the best service and outcomes for looked after and adopted children. We do our best to work closely and to share our knowledge and expertise across a wide range of organisations.”

Connect also provides weekly drop-in clinics for social care and other professionals working with looked after and adopted children.

Denise added: “The drop-in clinics, which we run in both Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds, allow professionals from other agencies to meet with Connect staff to discuss cases, review families and receive support. “By improving our partnership working in this way our aim is to make interventions and support for fostered and adopted children as smooth as possible for the families involved.”

More recently Connect have been providing a rolling training programme called ‘Our Journey Through Attachment’ at social care’s Kerrison training facility.

This training is aimed specifically at foster carers and adoptive parents to provide a better understanding of attachment and developmental trauma in children. The training is just entering its 3rd cycle and has received fantastic feedback from those who attended. Connect was re-launched in 2009, and provides a range of interventions for children and young people as well as giving support to those involved in their care. The service, which is for children aged up to 18 receive referrals from a wide range of professionals including social care, education, GP’s and other health professionals. More information about Connect can be found at