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Support and Guidance for Parents, Carers and Guardians


Welcome to the Devon Virtual School’s web pages for supporting children and young people who have previously been looked after.

This page details support and guidance for parents, carers and guardians.

A list of key terms used on these pages is available here.



Support at home

Family support

Adopt South West provides support for adopted children’s emotional, social and educational development, including:

  • Information about resources and funding
  • Individual and group support for parents and children
  • Events and support activities
  • Child’s identity support

Adoption support continues from the beginning of the adoption process and continues throughout childhood and teenage years. It is recognised that adopting is rewarding but can also be challenging at times. Adopt South West aims to offer a service that meets adoptive parents’ needs, or help to find the right support from other providers when necessary – this includes specific support for children aged 0-10 and support for children aged 10-18.

You can also call 0345 155 1076 or email


Self-care and mental health

Adoption UK provide some helpful resources about self-care for adoptive parents.


Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)

The Devon Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) provide help for children and young people who may be experiencing problems with their emotional or psychological wellbeing or mental health. Please see the Children and Family Health Devon website for further information and contact details.


Life Story Books

A life story book can be used to help your child gain a sense of identity and an understanding of their history. More information about life stories is available on the Adopt South West website.


Kim Golding PACE for parents

[find link to embed video]



Support with Education

Who should I speak to at school?

If you have concerns about your child’s education or wellbeing in school, you should talk to your child’s teacher in the first instance. All schools also have teachers with specialist roles and responsibilities:

  • Designated Teacher – Every maintained school and academy must have a designated teacher for previously looked after children who provides information, advice and support. Alongside the class teacher, they would be a good first person to speak to.
  • Special Educational Needs and Disability Coordinator (SENDCo) – If your child has any special educational needs or disabilities, which may include having an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), then the person responsible for making sure that their needs are met is the school SENDCo. They would be a good person to talk to about specific issues surrounding education provision and learning.


What support is available at school?

Early Years

  • A free early education place from the age of two – This needs to be applied for online with supporting evidence [needs link]
  • Early Years Pupil Premium – This is additional funding for early years providers to improve the education they provide for three and four year olds who are eligible. The funding goes directly to early years providers that offer children the free early education entitlement. Early years providers can choose how they use the funding to improve the quality of the provision that they offer.

Primary and Secondary

  • Priority School Admission – This entitlement will be made clear in the published admission arrangements for schools.
  • Pupil Premium Plus for school-aged children – This is extra funding for schools to provide additional support for vulnerable or disadvantaged children. This is not ring-fenced for the child that attracts the funding. Schools need to deploy it to have the maximum impact on eligible children (for example, through group interventions or staff training) and are accountable to Ofsted on how they have used the funding to benefit the children who attracted it.
  • Education Plan for Adopted Children (EPAC) and SGO version – This is offered by the Virtual School as a way to improve collaboration between school, parents/guardians/carers, and other professionals and ensure that there is a clear plan for supporting a child’s educational outcomes. The meeting also provides an opportunities to share important information about your child and generates a record of this information that can be shared with key school staff that will work with your child. An EPAC meeting may be offered by school or can be requested by parents/carers. Review meeting will be agreed between parents/carers and schools, based on support needed and outcomes. The EPAC form can be found here, and the Special Guardianships version is available here [needs link]

Educational Psychology

There is a small team of educational psychologists (Babcock LDP) who offer support and advice to adoptive parents, guardians and carers, schools and a wide range of professionals who support previously looked after children. Support includes:

  • Workshops for adoptive parents/guardians/carers
  • Parent/guardian/carer consultations (monthly clinic) to discuss
  • Attendance at EPAC meetings
  • Training for school staff
  • Interventions ??
  • Supervision for staff who are working with children with complex needs

Educational Psychology support is accessed through the Adoption Team Social Workers (Adopt South West), Family Practitioners from Special Guardian Support, Kinship Care Team (Devon Children and Young People’s Services), schools or other professionals. Is this right? I thought it was through the ALA

Consultation appointments can be booked directly through Adopt South West by emailing


Choosing a School or Early Years Setting

Deciding which school or early years setting you child goes to can be a daunting task. If your child was previously in care, they can benefit from priority…If they have not experienced care, then…

Early Years

  • Check the Ofsted inspection report [needs link]
  • Find a childcare provider
  • Look at an individual setting’s website and arrange a visit. Plan questions


  • Check the Ofsted inspection report [needs link]
  • See the school admissions web pages
  • If your child has special educational needs or disabilities (SEND), see the school’s SEND admissions process. There is a different admissions process for children with SEND.
  • Look at an individual school’s website and arrange a visit. Plan questions

What to do when you apply for your child’s school place

When you apply for a school place you will be asked if your child:

  • was adopted from care in England or Wales on an Adoption Order
  • was adopted from state care outside England and Wales. State care is care provided by a public authority, a religious organisation, or any other organisation whose sole or main purpose is to benefit society
  • left care in England and Wales on a Special Guardianship Order or a Child Arrangements Order

The Order must still be current. You don’t have to tell anyone that your child was previously looked after, but without this your child won’t have priority in getting a school place. You’ll be asked to provide evidence that your child was previously looked after, for example the Court Order.


Planning for Transitions

Whether starting school, moving to a new school or moving on to a new class, transitions are very important for children and young people. They can be also be a challenging and anxiety-provoking time, particularly for children who are vulnerable owing to their early experiences, or those who have special educational needs and/or a disability that require understanding and support.

Babcock LDP Educational Psychology and Early Years Services have collaborated with Devon County Council to produce guidance for schools and settings to promote successful transitions across all phases of education. These guidance documents aim to support parents/carers, staff and other professionals in ensuring high quality transition practice across Devon.