Client spotlight: PACT (Parents and Children Together)

Jelf are proud of the long-standing relationships we have with our clients. As supporters of business growth and community, we love to see our clients thrive.

As one of the UK’s leading independent adoption agencies, PACT helps place children of all ages, with secure and loving families. Jelf has been working with PACT for nearly 5-years, looking after all aspects of their commercial insurance as well as being the charity’s Health and Safety adviser.

Last year, PACT placed 85 children with 62 families, winning them the Pride of Reading Charity of the Year award. In celebration, we’ve conducted an interview with Adoption Team Manager, Mandy Davies, to help share more about the charity’s incredible work:

What does the Pride of Reading Charity of the Year award mean for PACT?

“It’s such an honour! It’s opened up so much, from free advertising, to new business partnerships - a local theatre company even put on a charity performance to raise money for us. Being Reading based, it’s been great for recruiting local adopters.”

What’s the difference between foster and adoption?

“Adoption and long-term fostering both give children permanent, forever families. With adoption, the difference is that the legal rights and responsibilities are passed to the adoptive parents. Whereas with fostering, the child is in the care of their foster carers until they are 18 years old and the rights are shared between the local authorities and birth parents.

“In short-term fostering the plan will always be that the child will move on, whether that’s back to the birth family or onto a permanent home.”

What’s the most common question you get asked by prospective parents?

“How long does it take to adopt a child - people think it takes years, but it’s actually a lot less than you’d think! Getting approved usually takes around 6-months, but during that time we’re getting to know you, putting together a picture to help us find the perfect match. Once approved, we search across the country for children to match your profile. Most of our families are linked with children within a couple of months.”

How do you go about matching families?

“It’s not about the next person on the list gets the next child. It’s about finding the best match between children and adopters.

“Once adopters are approved they see lots of children’s profiles – that’s the first step. Then they shortlist a few profiles they’d like to know more about. After that, it’s just an on-going process of gathering information. Sometimes they’ll meet the children, other times they’ll see a short film showing the children. It’s really just about working together as adopters and social workers, to find the right families for the children waiting.”

How do you help potential parents understand the process?

“All adopters have a social worker who will help them understand the process, identify the skills they have, and skills they may need to develop to be good adoptive parents. Then there’s PACT’s online service, The Adopter Hub which has everything from helpful articles, videos and webinars, to a forum for other adopters to give support and guidance.

“The adopters also attend training during the approval process, to help them understand the backgrounds and needs of the children that are coming through and give practical strategies to help when the child comes home. Training and support is available throughout the child’s life. We support adopters all the way.”

If you could say one thing to potential parents, what would it be?

“Have an open mind. Be open to the process and happy to share your experiences, to help us understand you. Be open to the kinds of children you could be matched with and the backgrounds and experiences the children may have had.”

Is there a ‘typical’ kind of adopter you’re looking for?

“Not at all! For example, we’ve got a single adopter who has just been linked with a child of dual-heritage, so we’re hoping that child will move in with their adopter in the next couple of months. And then there’s a same sex male couple who adopted a sibling group aged 5 and 6 years old two years ago. Every family looks different.”

If you had one wish for PACT what would it be?

“More adopters. There’s twice as many children waiting than adopters. I’d love to find adopters willing to consider those children who have to wait longer – who are slightly older, in sibling groups, those with some disabilities or from minority ethnic groups. These children can spend months, even several years waiting to find a family, and those who don’t find a family remain in care.

“It all goes back to being open - we want people to be willing to stretch themselves - to consider for example, a sibling group if they were originally thinking about adopting one child”

How would you describe working for PACT?

“It’s busy and challenging, but hugely rewarding. The team is so dedicated to making the perfect matches. I don’t think there are many jobs where you can say you genuinely change lives, but we really are changing the lives of the children as well as the adopters.”

Find out more about PACT via their website.