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Can you help me 'read between the lines' of profiles please?

(10 Posts)
Bananaketchup Tue 21-Aug-12 13:40:16

Hi all,

I'm approved and have been sent a book of profiles. It seems clear to me there are the harder to place children the LA have, as others in my prep who're already linked or matched have been approached about one specific child, not sent a printed brochure of a dozen.

So anyway, can you help me read them? I'm aware they are essentially an advert (feel horrible writing that) and want to understand the level of need I should expect from what's written: e.g. if a child is described as 'needs routines and structure and likes to feel in control' should I be thinking disorganised attachment? Does 'meeting milestones of a child 12 months younger than his age' mean learning difficulties? I feel like I can't get an idea of the extent of needs from the profiles - if something is being mentioned it seems like it's probably a substantial issue? They don't say 'strong willed and determined and can be defiant' if it's at an average level for the age of the child? Any help would be gratefully recieved before I meet with SW tomorrow evening!

funnychic Tue 21-Aug-12 15:45:10

What a great question. I am no help as I am in the same boat so will look forward to the wise ones coming on with the answers. The warning signals for me would be what you have said already, definitely the harder to place children if they are sending you a batch rather than coming to see you about a specific child. Proceed with caution would be what I would be thinking.

Lilka Tue 21-Aug-12 17:20:23

Hi Banana smile

Great question. You are very much right that these are 'adverts', and therefore the children will be presented in as positive a light as possible. Although I've seen some pretty honest profiles in my time, often any tricky information is in SW code. Also, being short profiles, watch out for things they highlight or emphasise, because that is obviously felt by someone to be important

Yes, I think if a profile mentions routine, structure and control, attachment issues are very likely. Not necessarily disorganised attachment, but attachment issues in general. Ditto 'strong willed, determined and can be defiant'. To me, that's another way of saying 'control issues' and 'challenging behaviour'

I would watch for things being repeated e.g. X is a very active and energetic child.....needs an active and structured family. In a profile with a word limit, repeating the same idea several times instead of mentionning something different suggests it's important

DD2's initial profile said she loved her food - in her case, this was code for 'hoards it and would eat 24/7 if she could'

Don't get too hung up on minor details...they often put things in about favourite foods, colours, activites...basically, things which tend to change and sometimes frequently. Look for a more general idea of their personality and issues - which can be hard depending on how well it's written!

Even then, those profiles can give a misleading idea about a child. They may well not even be written by someone who knows the child. They might highlight something unimportant, or fail to mention something important etc. They won't mention very sensitive information, and they can't usually convey enough to tell you whether you'd be a good match, unless there are very obvious serious issues you can't cope with. So, if you feel like this is a child you could parent, then enquire further. The worst that can happen is that their CPR lets you know that isn't right. Your SW might know more than is in the profile and may be able to advise of the bat whether child Y is high needs

Bananaketchup Tue 21-Aug-12 18:02:26

That's really helpful, thank you. I'm re-reading with an eye to repetition. It seems like some of the profiles might have been written by a SW who has English as a second language - unless all SWs write like that!- which doesn't help. Also some bits seem to have been copied and pasted, there are a couple of very similar phrases in profiles of different children. So all in all I'm not learning a lot, only getting the feeling of a noticeable level of needs.

You're right Lilka, the worst that can happen is reading the CPR gives me a definite no, will try to bear that in mind tomorrow when I see the SW. Thank you.

jens42 Tue 21-Aug-12 19:27:02

i think the profiles are written with a lot of imput from the current foster carer so it depends on their opinion of the child, i know a couple of foster carers, one for example has a 2.5 year old and has been used to having teenagers, she cant get over how active he is, he has just gone up for adoption and she said she is going to make sure they are aware of just how hyperactive he is and that he is on the go non stop, i have spent quite a bit of time with him, he plays with my child and i think his activity level is perfectly normal for a child his age, i think his attachment is a bit of a problem and he is a bit withdrawn but she doesnt think so. she's a lovely foster carer my point is just that your profiles could be based on opinion and not entirely accurate.

Bananaketchup Tue 21-Aug-12 21:15:53

Hmm that's useful to know jens, strongwilled or talkative or whatever can be pretty subjective. Food for thought, thank you.

Lilka Tue 21-Aug-12 21:32:59

The profiles in my LA aren't written with that much input from FC's (one of my best friends is an FC here). They get asked generally about the child, but sometimes she's said important things that were left out. Which is nowhere near as bad as one of my D's LA, who mostly ignored her FC completely

It's another post code lottery I think. There are rather too many of them in adoption and fostering

But jens is right, words are subjective, and you don't know what the writer intended to convey, your brain has it's own way of reading things and picking out information. What you notice about a profile might be very different to what another adopter might see if they read it. Which is another reason to have an open mind about enquiring, although also be prepared to find that it isn't a good match

Whilst I wouldn't be surprised if an "extremely charming and engaging girl, who loves being the center of attention. She is strong willed and can be a bit bossy" had quite big attachment problems, I would probably still ask to see the CPR, because a 50 word profile isn't a lot at all

Lilka Tue 21-Aug-12 21:45:14

I just posted that, then realised that my way of going about things might not be right at all right for another family

When I was approved, I was happy to read lots of profiles - I was using BMP as well as profiles from my LA and neighbouring ones. That meant I saw lots of Form E's, and had a few possible matches each time I was approved. I think I was taking quite a proactive approach and wanted to be a bit more in the driving seat, although my SW was there giving good advice

I didn't find it easy to say 'no' after reading the Form E's, but I wanted to see several at least, so I did have an open mind about enquiring, and was as prepared as I could be to turn down possible matches

But that might not be right for you or someone else reading. I know several adopters who let their SW look for initial things and let the SW do some selecting, before only being presented with the profile of a particularly suitable child, or maybe two. Some people don't want to see lots of profiles or take a very proactive role, if their SW is happy to do it for them and they trust their SW with that. Maybe some LA's do that as a general policy as well, especially if you are looking for a match 'in house' and are hoping not to use BMP/CWW or the national register

Bananaketchup Wed 22-Aug-12 10:08:27

I'm somewhere in between I think - I really want a match in-house, but I'm not 100% on how well my SW really knows me so I wouldn't want her to be doing a lot of filtering on my behalf.

That's made me realise I am going to need to ask to see some CPRs, even if I'm doubtful cos I feel I need to do that myself and not leave it to the SW to decide. Thank you that's really helpful.

xxxresixxx Fri 12-Oct-12 09:56:26

It may not sound very scientific but when I speak to adopters in my job they say they just knew which child would fit with their family when they were given profiles to read. Don't think to much about it, just choose the profiles you feel most drawn to and ask for more information...

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