TACT’s chief executive, Andy Elvin, opened the event at The Grand Connaught Rooms, with a seminar discussion about the national charity’s supportive service to all those considering parenthood, and explained the relative merits of the different approaches available.
Speaking to a packed room, Andy painted a picture of the current landscape for looked after children and young people. He said: ‘As the UK’s largest fostering and adoption charity, we have over 550 foster carers, looking after more than 650 children in foster care, and we make 20-30 successful adoptions each year.
‘People trust TACT because as a charity we reinvest all our surplus income into support for carers and children. We talk to prospective carers from all walks of life, from any ethnicity, single people or couples from all sexual orientations, those with children of their own or those without. What we are really interested in is what you can bring to a child’s life.’
A former foster carer in the United States, Andy has deep personal experience of caring for vulnerable children, and, having been a social worker since 1998, shared how the ways of becoming a parent have changed in recent years. He said: ‘There has been a rise in special guardianship orders, including those granted to foster carers, which gives carers clear, legal parental responsibility for all aspects of caring for the child and provides the legal security upon which to build a lifelong permanent relationship between the child and their carer.
Andy continued: ‘With the rise in special guardianship, foster care is increasingly becoming a route to legal parenthood, and that’s fantastic for children, who are placed into long-term stable, loving family homes because with TACT’s round the clock support and the quality of our carers, they achieve outcomes on a par with the general population.’
In the main hall, TACT’s exhibition stand was inundated with interest from people keen to learn more about the assessment process and the support offered by TACT, with lots of engaging conversations with our London adoption team members, Laura Stewart and Mercia Jackson, and the support of some of our long standing adopters, offering their ‘real life’ experiences.