News and Events

We’ve won! BAAF National Adoption Week Awards

Posted on: 5 November 2014

Devon Adoption at BAAF awards

Our Devon Adoption team has won the award for Local Authority Adoption Team of the Year.

The British Association of Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) is delighted to announce the National Adoption Week Awards following a record number of nominations.

Robina Kahn, Senior Manager Permanence and Transitions, Fostering and Adoption services, at Devon County Council, said:

“This is a wonderful achievement and a credit to the dedication, commitment and child centred practice of the Life Story and Family Finding Team.  The Life story and Family Finding team  works with children to prepare them for adoption and completes Life Story books using the ‘Joy Rees’ model of best practice for Life Story work. The team also provides support to birth parents, which led to other Local Authorities seeking our advice on how we do this so well. Well done and very, very many congratulations to the whole team.”

The Devon Adoption team was nominated for their work with children waiting for adoption, adoption placements and work with birth parents.

Their work included:

  • Providing the missing connections between the children and their families when they go into care, then onto adoption.
  • Producing keepsakes such as handprints of the children for the birth families which by allowing a more positive relationship has allowed birth families to share more information about their family and has allowed them in some ways to start the grieving process of their children in care.
  • When children go into a new placement as part of the transition,  a life story book goes with the children to their new adoptive family. This tells the story of their life prior to the adoptive placement. However, after feedback from children and adopters that the books can be ‘too special’ to use on a daily basis. The team developed a ‘toy box’ book for children. Children still receive their large book but the smaller books can be used everyday to ensure children can ask questions about their lives and people who have been part of them. The adopters are given templates of these books which mean they can be updated in the future as part of the child’s journey. The team have also penned story books for children with the child as an animal character to help with their understanding of separation and loss. The use of activity days and child appreciation days for all children over three has also helped in finding families for children and gaining information for adopters.

The categories include BAAF Voluntary Adoption Service of the Year, Local Authority Adoption Team of the Year, Adoption Social Worker of the Year and a new Digital Champion of the Year category.

All those shortlisted and their nominees were invited to a special awards ceremony on the Tuesday 4 November at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, where the winners were announced. The evening was hosted by BAAF patron and broadcaster Nicky Campbell and the Children’s Minister Edward Timpson MP was the charity’s special guest.  BAAF Patrons, actress and adoptive mother Clare Grogan, and celebrity hairdresser and adopted adult Andrew Barton are amongst the judges for the awards.

Rachel Gillott, Devon Adoption’s Operations Manager said:

“The whole service is working really hard to gain high quality placements for children awaiting adoption, so that the children are well prepared and ongoing support to adopters is one of the team’s priorities. Good transitions from foster care to adoptive placements ensure children can understand their journey and this enables them to make better attachments in the future.

“Birth parents and adopted adults also need a service which allows them to understand what has happened to them and for them to gain individual support in the future. The whole team are really pleased that the innovative work they are producing has been recognised nationally.”

Barbara Hutchinson, BAAF’s Interim Chief Executive commented:

“This year we received a record number of nominations for the National Adoption Week Awards. They were all to an incredibly high standard and we had a very difficult choice in drawing up the shortlist.  Our National Adoption Week Awards recognise and celebrate good practice and exceptional achievement among those working or involved in adoption in the UK.”

Devon Adoption team, dressed as pirates, at a recent Activity Day to find homes for adopted children

Several members of Devon Adoption team, dressed as Disney characters, at a recent Activity Day – to find homes for adopted children

The nominees for 2014:

Local Authority Adoption Team of the Year

  • Devon Adoption Service, Devon
  • South Tyneside Council Adoption Service, Newcastle
  • West Wales Adoption Service, Carmarthenshire

Voluntary Adoption Agency of the Year

  • Families that Last, the family finding service for After Adoption, Manchester
  • St David’s Children’s Society, Cardiff
  • Coram Adoption and Permanent Families Service, London

Adoption Social Worker of the Year

  • Marian Eagleson, Coventry City Council
  • Lisa Munns, Buckinghamshire County Council
  • Patricia Hurst, Caritas Care, Manchester
  • Rita Grant, St Andrew’s Children’s  Society, Edinburgh

Digital Champion of the Year

  • The Family Placement Service, Darlington Borough Council
  • Adoption in the Black Country, West Midlands
  • The Adoption Social website, Ipswich
  • First4Adoption England

Watch the video clips from the night:

Adopters share how they got started on their adoption story:


Meet the professionals who have helped to start their adoption story:

Congratulations Devon Adoption!

For more information on Devon Adoption go to