The charity Adoption UK has been awarded funding from The National Lottery Community Fund to set up a bold new project that will benefit thousands of families in England, Scotland and Wales. The project, known as TESSA (Therapeutic, Education and Support Services in Adoption) has just launched.

Around 5,000 children are adopted in the UK every year. Three quarters of them have suffered abuse or neglect. Most adoptive families need professional support at some point - often over the long term. However support is often hard to find, or short lived, and in many cases families reach crisis before being able to get help.

The £3.6 million grant from The National Lottery Community Fund, the UK’s largest community funder, will expand the successful Northern Ireland TESSA programme to the rest of the UK.

The TESSA-UK programme aims to empower adoptive parents to raise traumatised children in a therapeutic way.  It includes group therapies and brings peer and clinical support together. Support will be focussed on parenting approaches that help children to recover from early childhood trauma and creating healthier family relations over the long term, rather than treating crises.

Adoption UK CEO Sue Armstrong Brown said: ‘We owe it to families who are parenting some of our most vulnerable children to set them up to succeed. TESSA-UK opens up more and better support to more adoptive families across the whole of the UK. This award from The National Lottery Community Fund gives us the potential to set a new gold standard in adoption support.’

Joe Ferns, UK Funding Director at the National Lottery Community Fund, said: ‘We’re proud that National Lottery funding is supporting adoptive families in co-designing this programme for healthy child development and family wellbeing. Adoption UK is empowering families to be in control of their journey, providing early stage support and therapeutic tools.’

TESSA-England will initially launch in partnership with two Regional Adoption Agencies, before being offered in new areas in 2021.

In Northern Ireland, where TESSA originates, Adoption UK partnered with charity Family Routes (formerly Adoption Routes). Expertise developed in Northern Ireland is helping to inform the programmes in England, Scotland and Wales. Adoption UK Scotland and their partners will collaborate with adoption teams in Local Authorities and Voluntary Agencies throughout Scotland.  In Wales, The National Adoption Service for Wales (NAS) is going to be integrating TESSA into wider plans for their National Adoption Support framework.

Suzanne Griffiths, Director of NAS said: ‘We very much welcome the announcement that TESSA is to be established in Wales. It will provide the support that adopters and adopted children and young people in Wales tell us that they need.’