TESSA-UK is a project to create the conditions for healthy development and family wellbeing in adoptive families. It is based on the understanding that a child’s relationship with his or her parents or carers is one of the main keys to their development, and is founded on the principle of helping families, not fixing children.

The majority of adopted children have been exposed to abuse, neglect or instability in early childhood.  Early childhood trauma can affect child development in numerous ways, impacting on cognitive, emotional and sensory development. Being placed in a stable and loving home does not on its own reverse the impact of early trauma, but it does provide the conditions for healing to begin.

TESSA provides adoptive parents with understanding, skills and support to enable their child to begin to recover from early childhood trauma, increasing their chance of resuming a healthier developmental path. It is designed to be used as a preventative early intervention support for families who are at risk of the effects of early childhood trauma.

TESSA-UK is built on the experience and success of the original Lottery-funded TESSA project in Northern Ireland, led by Adoption Routes and Adoption UK in Northern Ireland. TESSA-UK is made possible by funding from the Lottery Community Fund and will operate over five years in Wales, England and Scotland, tailored to the adoption landscape in each country. 

TESSA-UK will generate a significant data set on the impact of early intervention therapeutic support for adoptive families. Our evaluation partner is Strathclyde University, who are setting up the TESSA Families Study to collate evidence and analyse the effectiveness of this approach.

TESSA-Wales: Country-wide service, with the support of National Adoption Service, statutory and voluntary partners. The National Adoption Service has provided additional ring-fenced funding to ensure access to the service across Wales

TESSA-Scotland: Launched across Scotland, hub approach and use of technology to overcome geographic challenges.

TESSA-England: For the first 3 years TESSA will operate across 2 RAA areas bordering Wales, with aim to make best use of cross border service options, subsequently to be rolled-out across England.

TESSA-UK does not replace statutory provision. Therapies and services in each nation and RAA are designed to add value to existing adoption services.

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