Collaboration between St David’s Children Society and Cardiff University School of Psychology and Business school delivers step change in adoption services

In this Knowledge Transfer Partnership, funded by Welsh GovernmentSt David’s Children Society* has worked with Cardiff University’s School of Psychology and Business School to implement closer cross sector collaborative working and develop new methodologies in delivering an individualised recruitment and support service for priority children waiting 12 months or more for a family.  

The KTP has resulted in the creation of Adopting Together, an umbrella package of best practice, which offers a direct alternative to the possibility of children remaining in long term foster care. It utilises clinical psychologist and therapeutic social worker input to offer effective early intervention and prevention support. 

Provided collaboratively by the Voluntary Adoption Agencies in Wales, Adopting Together brings together three voluntary adoption agencies (St David’s Children Society, Barnardo’s and Adoption UK), alongside active engagement from the statutory sector; and is the only service in Wales to provide a uniquely constructed and focused approach to family finding which seeks to respond to the complex needs of children waiting, and to support adopters.

It is exciting to see a unique blend of Knowledge Transfer from the School of Psychology and the Business School at Cardiff University being applied to deliver service innovation with such far reaching societal benefits. The support that Welsh Government provided through its sole funding of this KTP has been crucial to its success.Howard Nicholls, Senior Knowledge Transfer Adviser, KTN

The Impact

In first year of delivery 13 children have been placed with adoptive families. Implementing Adopting Together, St David’s has broadened its scope and created a third specific stream of work in its portfolio. The service extends the core business by receiving child referral information which means children’s information can be shared with adopters at an earlier date, allowing for more adopter-led linking and developing adopter understanding of the specific needs of children waiting.

Helping to bridge the gap between the voluntary adoption agencies and the statutory sector the service is also generating a step change in the procurement practices between them.

“We are optimistic that a collaborative approach to service delivery, with the step change in procurement, will result in lifelong benefits for the most vulnerable children in Wales and their families.”  Wendy Keidan, CEO, St David’s Children Society.

Evaluative feedback collated by Cardiff University School of Psychology indicates the Service has been very well received by foster carers, adopters and social workers. The ongoing development of the service offers an opportunity for St David’s Children Society to continue to innovate in best practice provision for adoptive families. The organisation is seeing financial gains in terms of recent grant awards. 

“Our aim is for this project to have a lasting impact on the capacity of the adoption sector.” Professor Katherine Shelton, School of Psychology, Cardiff University. 

The KTP has provided further understanding both in terms of the barriers and challenges faced in public procurement and collaborative working; and in understanding of the potential benefits of early intervention initiatives on professionals, foster carers, adopters and children. This early understanding is informing and generating ideas for future research, teaching materials and evidences research impact, with the potential to form a case study for the Research Excellence Framework 2020. 

“I sincerely hope that in taking a refreshed look at the public procurement process we will help improve the lives of children who, through no fault of their own, are placed for adoption in Wales.” Dr Jane Lynch, Reader, Cardiff Business School. 

The KTP Associate, Coralie Merchant, played a leading role in establishing collaborative working between the voluntary adoption agencies and the statutory sector, producing a Joint Relationship Management Plan which laid the foundation for establishing Service Level Agreements within the statutory sector. This work was acknowledged by an Award in Innovation from the Institute of Collaborative Working. 

Being a KTP Associate is a unique opportunity. I have worked across disciplines and gained skills and understanding in a variety of areas.” Coralie Merchant, KTP Associate. 

KTPs are often associated exclusively with the commercial sector, but in creating partnerships between forward thinking organisations and expert academic teams, their transformative impact can bring benefits right across the economy and 3rd sector, as this project shows. 

If you think a KTP could help your organisation innovate for growth, contact one of our Knowledge Transfer Advisers today. 


*About St David’s Children Society

St David’s Children Society is approved by the Care Inspectorate Wales to work as an Adoption Agency. Established in 1942, it is the longest serving adoption agency in Wales and to date has placed over 2,000 children. It provides locally based adoption services and its primary function is to recruit, approve and support adoptive families who provide permanent homes for children who require adoption.



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