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7.2.19 Life Story Work Policy and Procedure

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in February 2017 with minor corrections to the text.


Contents

  1. Policy Statement
  2. Purpose of the Policy
  3. What is a Life Story Book?
  4. Who Should Write / Compile the Life Story Book?
  5. How the Life Story work will be undertaken
  6. What Goes Into the Life Story Book?
  7. Types of Placements and Responsibilities
  8. What Materials are Needed?
  9. Starting a Life Story Book and Maintaining it
  10. Life Story Work with Children at Different Stages
  11. Using the Life Story Book

    Appendix 1: What is required in Life Story Book?

    Appendix 2: Memory Box

    Appendix 3: Book Resources


1. Policy Statement

All children who are placed in the care of the Swindon Borough Council are entitled to, and should have, a life story book which will give the child a realistic and honest account of their circumstances, their family history, identity and an age appropriate understanding of the reasons why they are in care.

Life story documentation should follow the child and be continually updated and added to throughout the time the child is in care.

Information gathered to develop and/or add to a child or young person’s life story work will be stored in a safe lockable place to protect the child or young person’s confidentiality. As this work is so critical for young people copies of key information must be kept – one in hard copy and another electronically.


2. Purpose of the Policy

Life story work is an integral part of the child’s journey in care. 

Life story work is intended to help children in care make sense of their situation; it should attempt to answer the following questions:

  • Who am I?
  • Who is my birth family?
  • How did I get here?
  • Where am I going?

As well as ensuring the child or young person:

  • Has a better understanding of who they are and their life journey;
  • Increase his/her sense of self-worth;
  • Refresh her/his memories;
  • Help understand why he/she is not living with their birth parents.

Consideration needs to be given regarding how the child or young person’s life story will be completed and which approach is considered the most appropriate, this could include collecting memorabilia in a special memory box, creating a life story book or writing letters. This will clearly depend on the child’s age and stage of emotional development, individual circumstances, and the child’s ability to engage with the process, specific factors including religious and cultural background, gender, disability or specific educational needs but usually a combination of all those approaches will be relevant.

There will be occasions when the child or young person may not, for a variety of reasons, be able to participate or engage with the life story process. The child’s social worker will need to ensure that information is gathered for future use with the child / young person.

Life story work requires social workers, foster carers, and support staff to agree a plan about who will contribute what. This must be co-ordinated by the child’s social worker.

A child or young person may have a completely different understanding of what has taken place in relation to the actual facts. The purpose of life story work is to try and ensure that the child or young person ultimately has an accurate understanding of what has happened to them; how this is achieved will need to be agreed and reviewed. A child or young person may not be ready or capable of understanding or accepting of past events, hence the need for an assessment of timeliness, risk and impact on such information being given/ received by the child or young person.

Life story work is an on-going process which requires revisiting and reviewing throughout the time the child is in care.


3. What is a Life Story Book?

Making a Life Story Book is more than creating a photograph album with identifying sentences giving dates, places and names. It is an account of a child's life in words, pictures and documents, and an opportunity to explore emotions through play, conversation and counselling.

A Life Story Book should:

  • Keep as full a chronological record as possible of a child's life; inclusive of details of the child’s birth family
  • Integrate the past into the future so that childhood makes sense;
  • Provide a basis on which a continuing Life Story can be added to;
  • Be something the child can return to when he/she needs to deal with old feelings and clarify and/or accept the past;
  • Increase a child's sense of self and self-worth;
  • Provide a structure for talking to children about painful issues.


4. Who Should Write / Compile the Life Story Book?

The overall responsibility for co-ordinating life story and memory box information and ensuring that this work is completed with the child is the responsibility of the child's social worker.

Foster carers are responsible for contributing to life story work and where appropriate to keeping life story books regarding the placement and ensuring that this is kept up to date and shown to the child’s social worker on a regular basis, on a minimum quarterly basis but preferably monthly.

The child’s social worker will record, for future reference, why the placement is changing (positives and negatives) prior to the child moving or shortly afterwards depending on circumstances.

At the child’s statutory review the Independent Reviewing Officer will seek an update from the social worker and the child or young person’s carer as to progress in collating information on life story work.

At the annual foster review the fostering reviewing officer will ask the foster carers what information, documentation including photographs, certificates etc they have collated for the child or young person and what progress they have made in relation to direct work with the child or young person and whether they need any further support, training or materials to maintain it.

A key objective of any child or young person’s placement will be to support education achievement and attainment. Education staff have a valuable role contributing information to a child or young person’s life story and should be asked to supply appropriate information.

External, independent fostering agencies, foster carers and residential providers of placements for children in care are required to adhere to this policy and procedures document.

The social worker for the child must ensure that foster carers, residential care staff and reviewing officers have a full understanding of the child's past and the history of why they are in care so that the foster carers and residential care staff are able to support and advise the child or young person if they enquire.

It is the social worker’s responsibility to collect and obtain all the information regarding the child life story and ensure that this work is carried out and placed in the child's life story book. Line managers must ensure that social workers are meeting this expectation through discussion in supervision and quality assurance activities.

The child or young person's own contribution to their life story is crucial and must be encouraged and facilitated.


5. How the Life Story work will be undertaken

At the first Looked After Child Review a plan will be made about undertaking life story work and this plan will monitored via the LAC Reviews.

The child’s social worker must ensure that any previous information on life story is provided to the child or young person’s carer within one week of the child being placed.

The collation of materials and items will be agreed between the social worker, foster carer, supervising social worker, and the child’s family to ensure all of the child's life is covered.

The direct work with the child or young person on life story will be carried out in a safe and secure environment where the child feels comfortable. It should be completed with the person with whom the child feels most comfortable. This must be led by the child or young person. Children of different ages, abilities and disabilities may not be able to directly engage in the work, in such cases social workers will need to think and work creatively to ensure that every child and young person has a meaningful and accessible life story – see Section 10, Life Story Work with Children at Different Stages.

An agreed time frame for the start and completion of the life story will be agreed at the child / young person’s Looked After Child Reviews. Progress of life story work should be a regular agenda item at supervision between workers and their line managers.

There may be occasions when the child or young person will not be receptive in making their contribution. This should not be pushed but postponed until an appropriate time – agreed upon by the social worker and Independent Reviewing Officer.

If professionals involved believe that a child requires therapy and that undertaking Life Story Work would not be helpful at this stage then this must be taken in to consideration however, it will not necessarily prevent life story work being undertaken and should not prevent the on-going collation of materials that will be used at a later date.

Life story work focuses on what is happening to the child now and how they can move forward with support.

All relevant parties should be made aware of the life story work being undertaken through the child’s Looked After Child Reviews, care planning meetings and in the supervision of foster carers and social workers. If the foster carers or residential carers need to do work with the child or young person as something arises, guidance should be obtained from the child or young person’s social worker.

It is important that at each stage a child or young person’s case is transferred to another team and at the end of their period in care a check is made about who has the life story information and where it is. A note must be recorded on the child’s file to this effect. For children who have had care but are not yet receptive to receiving information about their past a letter should be sent to the young person and a copy held on file acknowledging this fact. There should be a clear note on file advising who is best placed to discuss life story work with the young person if it is requested at a future date.

When the plan is for a child or young person to be adopted, the social worker who knows the children must write a later life letter. The letter needs to be realistic and sufficiently detailed so that the young adult fully understands their life before adoption, why they could not remain with their birth parents, and why they were adopted. The prospective adopters must be given the letter within ten working days of the adoption ceremony, please see separate policy on Later Life Letters.


6. What Goes Into the Life Story Book?

  • Family tree - back three generations if possible;
  • Photos of maternity hospital (and, for younger children, a clock showing the time);
  • Weight, length, head circumference at birth;
  • Birth certificate, if possible;
  • Any items from the hospital (e.g. identity tag);
  • Dates of first smile, sounds, words, tooth, steps etc;
  • Photos of parents;
  • Photos and maps of places where the child lived;
  • Photos of relatives;
  • Photos of friends;
  • A truthful life history - including abuse, neglect etc. - that is age appropriate to the child. More detail can be added later as the child needs to know;
  • Parents' stories (also parents’ likes and dislikes, hobbies, interests and traits – characteristics etc);
  • Messages from birth parents / Why birth parents gave the child their specific name;
  • Details of siblings;
  • The child's views and memories;
  • Photos of workers and their roles;
  • Story of the court process;
  • Photos of carers and their family;
  • Story of family finding;
  • Details of ceremonies (e.g. baptism);
  • Anecdotes;
  • Details, mementos and photos of holidays;
  • Favourite foods, likes and dislikes;
  • School attainments / hobbies / favourite toys etc.

See Appendix 1: What is required in Life Story Book? for more details.


7. Types of Placements and Responsibilities

Internal foster placements

Swindon Borough Council foster carers are responsible for ensuring the child's life story information is kept up to date whilst in placement and to evidence what they are doing and discuss what they are planning to do as next steps.

Connected persons

There is often an assumption that if a child is placed with a ‘connected person’ that they will be able to share the life story with the child. This is not always the case. Care needs to be taken to ensure that the story shared is verified as accurate to reduce tensions and potential misunderstandings which may result in increased disharmony between both parents and connected persons carers.

External placements

The contracts with independent external fostering and residential providers includes the expectation that basic life story work will be undertaken. As part of their quality assurance process for external providers, the commissioning team will obtain evidence from providers that the life story policy is being complied with.

Residential homes

Residential homes do not have the same environment in which to undertake life story work and this needs to be taken into consideration when deciding how best to undertake the life story with children or young person. Agreement needs to be obtained at the first Looked After Child Review as to whom, within the residential home, will have key responsibility for the life story to be undertaken with child’s social worker in gathering information even though it may not be appropriate to share information with the child / young person. For some children and young people in residential care, work may need to be deferred with the child until they are emotionally and behaviourally stable and receptive.

Secure units

There will be specific limitations in engaging some young people placed in secure units. A discussion needs to take place between the care staff at the secure unit and the child’s social worker and Independent Reviewing Officer detailing what information is collated and shared until an appropriate time when this can be shared with the young person.

Shared care

A number of children with disabilities receive shared care from foster carers in the local authority. These children remain living with their parents and stay regularly with a specific carer for short breaks. It is anticipated their foster carers who provide short breaks will also contribute information concerning the child or young person i.e. photos of significant events and provide this to the child or young person’s social worker or family.

Adoption

All children who are adopted must have a life story book and a later life letter; this is a statutory requirement.

The life story book should be completed ideally prior to the child being placed in their adoptive placement and shared with the prospective adopters in stages; at the latest by the secondary statutory review of the child’s placement with the prospective adopters and the latest together with the later life letter, within 10 working days of the adoption ceremony, i.e. the ceremony to celebrate the making of the adoption order. It would be anticipated that if a child has a memory box this would be given to the prospective adopters as well.

The adopted child may wish to share parts of life story book to their new family and friends but it would not be appropriate to share photographs, address’ and foster carer’s information with the other people.

The child may not be ready to complete their life story, and the adoptive parents may want to share parts of the book when they believe it is appropriate. Once the life story book and later life letter are completed, a copy should be made and placed on the child’s adoption file in case the original is lost or destroyed.

Examples of what information could be contributed from all placements for the life story books:

  • Descriptions of what the child was like when they arrived, what they liked and disliked;
  • Details of development (e.g. learning to ride a bike);
  • Their own special memories of the child;
  • Birthdays, Christmases and other family celebrations/outings/holidays etc. - photos, favourite places etc;
  • Details and photos of the foster family (including extended family), home, pets etc. who they got on with and who they didn't;
  • If appropriate, times when they had arguments, sulks etc;
  • Special rituals the child liked;
  • Souvenirs of school - photos, certificates, reports, photos of and stories from teachers;
  • Contact visits;
  • Illnesses;
  • Photos of birth family with foster family;
  • Photos of friends made;
  • Crafts/pictures;
  • Anecdotes.


8. What Materials are Needed?

The presentation is very important in terms of validating the importance of the life story and motivating the child to contribute, want to read it, show it to others and be proud of it.

  • Use a loose leaf folder;
  • Always work on clean paper;
  • Drawings and photos should be mounted;
  • Use neat headings;
  • If the child is unable/reluctant to write themselves, let them dictate what they want to say;
  • Use good quality copies/photocopies of treasured photos, documents etc. and not the original;
  • Get a balance of words and pictures;
  • A responsible adult should keep hold of the book until it is finished;
  • A Memory box is a means of keeping all the items together that are particularly meaningful for the child or young person including photographs, certificates of achievements and special items which all help the child's sense of self-worth (see Appendix 2: Memory Box).
  • Keep at least one copy and preferably two – one hard copy and one electronically.


9. Starting a Life Story Book and Maintaining it

All life story work needs to be done in a safe secure and sensitive way which is child centred and in the best interest of the child or young person.

A risk assessment and analysis should be completed prior to undertaking direct life story work with a child or young person to establish whatever is the most appropriate way to involve them.

Information obtained should be kept in a safe, confidential and lockable place. Sensitive information and important documents, including photographs should be stored safely by the child's social worker and /or foster carer, residential placement in a confidential and lockable place, and measures taken to ensure that these are not passed to anyone who should not have access to them. Copies of key documents etc should be kept by the social worker, one in hard copy and another electronically.


10. Life Story Work with Children at Different Stages

Under five’s

Children under the age of 5 need to have a very basic understanding of what has happened to them. The life story work needs to be completed in a sensitive and simple format, usually through the use of creative play, to give the child a sense of identity and why they are in placement.

Social workers are required to provide:

  • A chronology;
  • Information on health;
  • Family background; and
  • To assist carers in the completion of the life story work.

Foster carers and social workers will need to keep significant objects or photographs which are important to the child.

Pictures of the creative play should be taken and put into the life story book as a record of what has been discussed.

Children of primary school age 5-11

From the age of 5 children are beginning to develop an awareness and understanding of what has happened to them and they may need more in-depth work undertaken with them.

Time needs to be taken to give the children the understanding of how their past should be introduced to them. This could be by using interactive DVD, wall paper used to look at time lines, positive and negative events in the child's life. This can be put in their life story books.

Some children will be ready to talk, discuss and listen at this age, but others will not be ready. The children should be given the opportunities to explore their past if they are ready, but not forced to if they are not. If they are not ready, on-going opportunities to think about their readiness must be provided to them.

Children of secondary school age 11-16

At this stage most children have a better understanding and start to ask specific questions about their circumstances. Young people need to be talked to more openly, but with care in relation to their maturity and emotional development. Young people at this stage are asking questions and probing the reasons they are in care and need to have opportunities to explore and talk in an appropriate and constructive way that best suits them.

Young people leaving care 16+

Young people often request to see their files when they leave care to gain an understanding of why they did not always live with their birth parents. Files will need to be prepared to ensure that the information meets the requirements of the Data Protection Act.


11. Using the Life Story Book

Children need truthful and honest explanations that they can understand - that means using language they know. It is important that: Questions are answered as honestly as possible;

  • Adults admit when they don't know the answer and offer to try and find out (rather than making something up);
  • Children are helped to accept that not everything can be explained or understood;
  • Information is given sensitively and honestly - protection and evasion leads to confusion and fear.

Adults help children to realise which feelings are healthy and acceptable by

  • Discussing their own feelings frankly. If feelings are ignored, children get the message that to express them is wrong;
  • Bottling them up can lead to negative behaviour like aggression or withdrawal;
  • Adults never pretend abusive/bad relationships didn't or don’t exist.


Appendix 1: What is required in Life Story Book?

Life story is important and every child should have this book started as soon as they come into care and it must be updated continually by all parties involved with the child.

The life story book needs to be shared with foster carers, residential staff and potential adopters so they have a full understanding of the child who is being placed with them.

The child's foster carer, residential staff and adopters should have the life story book and the social worker should have an electronic copy of the book which is kept safe.

All life story books should have the following sections to ensure all of the child's life is captured:

  • Genogram of all family members and how they link together;
  • Picture and description of family members’ date of birth and relationship to the child;
  • Details of where the child was born, if possible child’s birth weight, picture as a baby and picture of the hospital;
  • If parents will agree a statement informing the child about their birth and details about their own birth;
  • Chronology of life events;
  • Page giving details of each placement the child has had, the names of foster carers, information regarding why the child left a placement with positives and memories recorded;
  • Page with the names of the schools the child has attended, picture of the schools and if known who the teacher and friends were. Child could add comments here on how they felt about the school and what memories they have;
  • Page regarding the social workers and the role they played in the child's life, letter from the social worker when they left and why. Comment from child about the social worker if they wish to do so;
  • Page on reviewing officers, what their role is within the child's life and a letter from them when they stop working with them;
  • Page on any other significant people who are in the child's life that the child wishes to put in their life story book;
  • Summary of why the child is in care, written in an age appropriate manner. This will need updating as the child matures and gains more understanding;
  • Overview of why parents were unable to look after them. Open and honest at the child’s level. This should be shared when the child is ready and not before;
  • Health issues within the family;
  • Family tree;
  • As much information that can be gathered from birth family for the child. If possible photos of when they are little, memories the birth family has of the child as a young person;
  • The child's likes and dislikes;
  • First day at school and any other school placements;
  • Photo taken and short write up talking about when the child first arrived with social worker in placement;
  • Photographs should be taken of the child throughout placement and kept in album and updated on a regular basis with comments and thoughts put in the book from foster carers and the child.


Appendix 2: Memory Box

Memory boxes are important for a child in care. Theses should include important sentimental and trivial items which are important to the child and give them a sense of belonging. The box should be continually updated and passed on to any other placements that the child goes to.

All items in the memory box should be photographed and kept on a safe USB drive so of anything should happen to the item a copy of it is always available.

  • Some example items;
  • Hand prints / foot prints;
  • Hair;
  • Medical Red book;
  • Both parents hand prints if possible;
  • Baby book;
  • Newspaper from the day baby born;
  • Coin collection;
  • Holiday photos;
  • First pair shoes / clothes;
  • Favourite toy;
  • Holidays.

Take photographs of the child during some contact with their family and placed in an album for the Memory Box.

Where appropriate, the child should have pictures of their birth family.

Young people may have confidential items from their past that is sensitive and should not be shared with anyone but the child. The child may not be ready to process the information at the time. These items need to be stored in a confidential way by their case managers and kept until the young person is ready.


Appendix 3: Book Resources

Argent, Heidi Moving Pictures BAAF 2012
Designed for social workers and carers undertaking direct work with children aged four and above, Moving Pictures is an essential tool to help children and adults enjoy an activity together, while tacking challenging and possibly painful topics. The book consists of a CD-ROM which contains 16 black and white drawings, illustrating various aspects of the move to permanence. The accompanying book provides guidelines, advice and suggested questions for the practitioner or carer working with the child.

Barnardo’s All About Me – A Therapeutic Communication Game 1991
It can be used at times of emotional crisis, such as bereavement, divorce or family breakdown. The game is designed to be used by someone who already has a trusting therapeutic relationship with the child. As the child and practitioner work their way around the board, they turn over cards which contain statements designed to provoke conversation.

Barnardo’s Memory Store 1998
This pack provides a practical way of bringing together personal information for children who are losing contact with their parents, through either separation or bereavement. This colourful, easy-to-construct flat-packed box, that includes a special tray for treasured small items and a hard-backed booklet to recall important experiences, is a great base for children to build their own personal memory store from.

Betts, Bridget and Ahmad, Afshan My Life Story Information Plus 2003
PC and Mac CD-ROM | Age range 8-16. My Life Story breaks new ground in resources for direct work with looked after young people. Available from Information Plus.

Betts, Bridget SpeakEasy Information Plus 2004
An interactive way of saying what you think and feel about being in care. SpeakEasy provides an exciting, relevant and engaging framework to enable children and young people to participate in their reviews through an interactive computer programme. Using a popular mix of fill in fields and interactive activities Speakeasy's 6 thematic sections cover all the key issues reviews will need to consider to take account of young people’s views. Substantial use of voice clips means that reading skills are no barrier to using the programme.

Byrne, Shelia and Chambers, Leigh Children’s Book Series BAAF
When children are separated from their birth families, part of their very self is in jeopardy. They need help to make sense of their experiences and individual history. This book is part of a unique series for use with separated children.

Joining Together: Jo’s Story 1999 this book is for children whose stepparent adopts them.

Feeling Safe: Tina’s Story, 1998 This title tells stories about a girl who is sexually abused at home and has to go into foster care.

Living with a New Family: Nadia and Rashid’s story, 1997 tells the story of Nadia and, Rashid who have to leave their mother and live with a family of Asian Muslims.

Belonging Doesn’t Mean Forgetting: Nathan’s Story, 1997 Describes the story of Nathan, a two-and-a-half-year-old African Caribbean boy who has to leave his mother following neglect and who is adopted by a single black parent.

Hoping for the Best: Jack’s Story, 1997 This particular title is about an adoption that did not work out.

Camis, Jean My Life and Me BAAF 2001
My Life and Me provides a much-needed template to help children separated from their family of origin develop and record an accurate knowledge of their past and their family. It can be used flexibly by any child, including children with special needs and children adopted from abroad.

Cole, Joanna How I Was Adopted: Samantha's Story Harper Collins, 1999
"Written for younger children in a question and answer format, to encourage conversations with your child about adoption."

Foxton, Judith Nutmeg series BAAF

  • Nutmeg Gets Adopted BAAF 2001 This book tells the story of Nutmeg, a little squirrel who goes to live with a new family after his birth mother realises that she cannot keep him safe.
  • Nutmeg Gets Cross BAAF 2002 Suitable for post-adoption work with children, this story offers a practical way to identify, explore and understand painful feelings that are likely to surface following adoption.
  • Nutmeg gets a Letter BAAF 2003 Suitable for post-adoption work with children; this book is about contact in adoption.
  • Nutmeg gets a little Help BAAF 2004 This story focuses on adoption support and life story work, and how these can aid adopted children.
  • Nutmeg gets into Trouble BAAF 2006 Designed to be read to or with children by their own social worker, their current carers or adoptive parents, the story will encourage children from a wide age range to explore their feelings about their circumstances and situations.
  • Nutmeg gets a Little Sister BAAF, 2007 Nutmeg's adoptive family is about to grow as his parents have decided to adopt his baby sister, who can’t be looked after by his birth mother any longer. Nutmeg is excited and expectant, but the reality of having a new child in the family also leads to some arguments and difficult adjustments before the family settles happily into their life together.

Hammond, Simon & Cooper, Neil Digital Life Story Work BAAF 2013

Hewitt, Helen Life Story Books for People with Learning Disabilities – a practical guide BILD 2006
This guide provides easy-to-follow advice for creating life story books. It is aimed at all client groups and levels of ability. It can be used by people with learning disabilities themselves, or by people working with them. The benefits of using life story books makes this guide a valuable resource for all people who are involved in the lives of people with learning disabilities.

Kahn, Helen Tia’s Wishes BAAF 2002
Tia’s Wishes is intended to help girls aged 4 to 10 who are waiting to be placed for adoption to understand and cope with their feelings.

Kahn, Helen Tyler’s Wishes BAAF 2003
Tyler’s Wishes is intended to help boys aged 4 to 10 who are waiting to be placed for adoption to understand and cope with their feelings.

Kitze, Carrie A, We See the Moon Emk Press, 2003
This is a wonderful book for parents who wish to talk to their children about their feelings for their birthparents! It is gently affirming of your child's curiosity about their past. The text is very simple, sweet and evocative - with plenty of room for children and their parents to till in their own details and imaginings.

Lacher, B. et al Connecting with Kids through Stories JKP 2005

Maye, Jean Me and My Family BAAF, 2011
A unique, colourful, interactive and fun 'Welcome to our family' book through which adopters can initially introduce themselves to the child who will be joining them and for the child to work through and record the inevitable changes in their lives as they move to their new family.

Moore, Joan Once Upon a Time BAAF, 2012
A practical guide for child care practitioners, carers and parents which explores how to use storytelling and play in direct work with children.

Nicholls, Edith The New Life Work Model, Russell House Publishing, 2005
The New Life Work Model aims to help children who've been separated from their birth families to make sense of their life, and more ably face the challenges the future may bring. This 'guide' gives agencies and practitioners the facility to enhance what they offer to youngsters in relation to Life Work.

Nicholls, Edith My Memory Book (x3), Russell House Publishing A series of 3 books – My Memory Book 0-4, My Memory Book 4+ and My Memory Book 8+ aimed at helping child care professionals to record and preserve memories and events relevant for the child in accordance with the age groups mentioned.

Nichols, M. et al Parenting with Stories Family Attachment Counselling Centre 2002 available from www.familyattachmentcom 001 952 475 2818

Parr, Todd Series

The Really Cool Baby Book (Walker Books Ltd, 2001) My Really Cool Baby Book has all the usual features (areas to record weight, features, etc); just with a really cool twist. Witty multiple-choice options are accompanied by bold and simple artwork of stick-figure characters, with room to include personal details and add photographs. The book also caters for real families, with options for adopted babies and step-families, and space to describe whoever takes care of the baby when the parents are busy. With a delicious, padded matt cover and detachable growth chart and stickers.

It’s Okay To Be Different (Walker Books Ltd, 2002) It's Okay to Be Different cleverly delivers the important messages of acceptance, understanding, and confidence in an accessible, child-friendly format featuring Todd Parr's trademark bold, bright colours and silly scenes. Targeted to young children first beginning to read, this book will inspire kids to celebrate their individuality through acceptance of others and self-confidence.

We Belong Together (ABC Books, 2008) We belong together because... you needed someone to help you grow healthy and strong, and I had help to give. Now we can grow up together. Parr s quirky artwork and eternally optimistic - yet never saccharine - books are truly irresistible, for both grown-ups and kids.

The Feelings Book (Little, Brown Young Readers, 2009) A surprising and silly book about moods, featuring such musings as "Sometimes I feel like staying in the bathtub all day", and "Sometimes I feel brave", illustrated with bold, bright, childlike drawings.

The Family Book (Little, Brown Young Readers, 2010) Parents and teachers can use this book to encourage children to talk about their families and the different kinds of families that exist.

Plummer, Deborah Helping Children with Self Esteem Jessica Kingsley 2001
This book is packed with fun and effective activities to help children develop and maintain healthy self-esteem. The book is primarily designed for use with individuals and groups of children aged 7-11, but the ideas can easily be adapted for both older and younger children.

Rees, Joy Life Story Books for Adopted Children, A Family Friendly Approach JKP 2009
The book contains simple explanations of complex concepts, practical examples and helpful suggestions. It is ideal in being used by professionals as well as adopters.

Rose, R. & Philpot, T. The Child’s Own Story, Life Story Work with Traumatised Children JKP 2005
Helping traumatized children develop the story of their life and the lives of people closest to them is key to their understanding and acceptance of who they are and their past experiences. The Child's Own Story is an introduction to life story work and how this effective tool can be used to help children and young people recover from abuse and make sense of a disrupted upbringing in multiple homes or families.

Shah, Shaila Adoption, what it is and what it means BAAF 2003, 2nd Ed 2012
Presented in accessible and jargon-free language, this colourful guide will provide children with a good introduction to adoption.

Shah, Shaila & Argent, Heidi Life Story Work, What it is and what it means BAAF 2006
The guide explores the importance of life stories in general, including the lives of several famous people in history and contemporary life, and draws a parallel between these and the importance of the child's own life story. It describes the actual process of undertaking life story work, including explaining who can help with this and how, when to do it, what can go into a life story book and who owns this work. It also shows how life story work can be done using imaginative techniques and different media.

Wilson, Jacqueline Children’s Fiction relating to children living in a range of different family situations, and managing changes in their family life:

  • The Story of Tracey Beaker;
  • The Dare Game;
  • Double Act;
  • Bad Girls;
  • Dustbin Baby;
  • The Suitcase Kid;
  • The Bread and Breakfast Star.

Wrench, Katie & Naylor, Lesley Life Story Work with Children who are Fostered or Adopted Jessica Kingsley Publications 2013

Zisk, Mary The Best Single Mom in the World: How I Was Adopted, Albert Whitman, 2001

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