11 April, 2013

Parents getting control of money? Shock Horror!

The Department for Education recently announced that they will be piloting "personal budgets" for adoptive parents, to fund therapy and services. Sounds fabulous! Why am I sceptical of this idea?

We have no horse in this race (our son was adopted, but not from care) but as someone passionate about evidence-based parenting I am very wary of the wide range of training, therapies, and interventions that are out there for children with difficulties. I knew about this before I became an adoptive parent, through my work with children with disabilities.  And I'm becoming increasingly aware, mainly through social media, of the types of interventions adoptive parents seek and would love to have funded.

The trouble is - and this is the subject of many very long blog posts, at least one of which is pending - we know nothing or next to nothing about the treatments and interventions that work for children who have suffered abuse and neglect.  There is a multiplicity of organisations that talk lovely stuff and promote themselves, and have expensive training days. There are some therapies that purport to work.  Parents find it very difficult to get these therapies funded, currently. But many of the websites and books seem to throw around "brain", "science" and names of brain areas in ways that sound suspiciously like neurobollocks. My preliminary trawl of one or two has yet to come up with a therapy with a good evidence base. I'll keep you posted on that.

In fact, some of the organisations, therapies and trainings that neurobollocks specifically talks about are the very ones that adoptive parents seem to be told about, and that they would like for their children (in the category of home remedies, brain training on handheld computer games comes up a lot for example, and is taken at face value, ditto fish oils for ADHD).

I have tweeted the DfE (twice) to ask whether there will be safeguards to ensure treatments and interventions are evidence-based and vulnerable parents will not be exploited. I'll let you know if I get a response to that too.

Edit: I got a reply!  DfE sent me a web page that has a link to another site that talks about the piloting of personal budgets. I'm not clear if they are already piloting them (it doesn't look like it) but as far as I can see, the budgets are to be used on service provided by local NHS Trusts (for those outside the UK, hospitals or primary care/mental health care) and education authorities OR (and I'm not completely clear on this) partners who are charities working in children's developmental needs or mental health needs.

I asked them if they had any adoption-specific charities to add to this because that would be very interesting - are they adding any and if so, which ones. I wasn't surprised not to get an immediate answer to that as the Twitter monkey typist will be off asking the ringmaster for information.

I am not completely reassured by the use of the budgets only in NHS or education authority circles though. We all know about various neurorubbish like Brain Gym and learning styles that's used in schools, and several of the therapies I'm researching at the moment (see my new post) are provided by NHS mental health services.

Edit 2: I got another reply! "The Government is currently exploring options on how to pilot personal budgets for adoption". So they don't know yet, but they haven't got any providers of dodgy therapies that charge loads on board, just yet. At least there's that.

No comments:

Post a Comment