Adoption UK has responded to a parliamentary committee inquiry into Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) by highlighting a need for better evidence to inform support for adopted children.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee inquiry looked specifically at how research into ACEs can be more effectively mobilised to form better health, education and social policy.

Norman Lamb MP (Lib Dem), chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee, said: "By truly understanding the effects of adverse childhood experiences we may be better prepared here in the UK to prevent and treat mental health conditions, and reduce other problems associated these experiences, including in education, employment and criminal justice."

This enquiry has presented Adoption UK with a fantastic opportunity to inform policymakers that adopted children are disproportionately affected by ACEs and, therefore, require additional support to deal with the effects of these experiences.

Adoption UK’s response wrestles with issues such as the relationship between ACEs and educational outcomes as well as recommending further research into therapeutic interventions for ACEs.

 Adoption UK members contributed to the charity’s formal response and offered powerful testimony on the impact ACEs have had on their families.

One member said: “I had not really understood that developmental trauma would present in the form of a long-term disability for both of my children and that this would require both my husband and I to be full-time carers.”

She continued: “I knew it would be hard emotionally and that I needed special skills and understanding, but I had really understood the long-term effects of ACEs and that my children might not be able to access mainstream school or any school, or require such high levels of one-to-one care outside of school.”

Dr Sue Armstrong Brown, Adoption UK’s chief executive, said: “Adoption UK welcomes the Science and Technology Committee’s focus on the evidence for the impact of ACEs and the degree to which they are translated into policy. We are near the beginning of our understanding of the role developmental trauma plays in wellbeing, attainment and relationships, and it is crucial to ensure that evidence is gathered to further our understanding, and that policy and practice evolve to reflect the reality of living with trauma.”

She added: “Adopted children are likely to have experienced significant adverse childhood experiences, but with early therapeutic intervention and support, they and their families can have a bright future. I hope that the committee will support our recommendation for research into therapeutic interventions for families living with ACES, and for further policy and practice development to accommodate the impact of ACES in education, health services and the care sector.” 

Adoption UK will be forming a response to the government’s Green Paper on children and young people’s mental health in the new year. Please keep an eye out for an invitation to respond.