For National Adoption Week 2022 we are highlighting the importance of identity, history and relationships for adopted people.

As part of the National Adoption Week initiative, we wanted to share some of the therapeutic services and innovative tools that we are developing in order to better support children who are adopted. Below we take a closer look at ARCBOX.

What is ARCBOX?

ARCBOX is a child centred, innovative life story tool created by the team at ARC Adoption, providing children with the opportunity to contribute to and own, a personalised, fun to use lasting record of their life.  It enables the safe storage and sharing of photographs, letters, messages and other items – like a digital memory box, which can be uploaded to and accessed online via smartphones and other devices.

Children are introduced to ARCBOX and the information safely held on there, when it’s most appropriate to do so.

Is it different do a traditional life story book – how does it work?

ARCBOX brings traditional life story into the 21st century, and into the digital space that children and young people inhabit more and more. Authorised contributors can update it in real-time, resulting in an ongoing ‘living’ chronology rather than a historical document, and children and significant people in their lives, such as foster cares, adoptive parents, birth family and support workers can all continue to contribute throughout their lives.

Our Adoption Support Worker Lynn, has been instrumental in the development of ARCBOX, having been at the forefront of developing high quality life story books before she became part of ARC’S digital life story team.  She said:

"Knowing how important life story is for children & young people’s history and identity, we were very passionate about bringing this into a format that would encourage them to really own their story, and want to be part of making it individual to themselves. We are all very aware of the pressures and dangers social media can bring to our children, and ARCBOX is at the forefront of creating a safe digital space for children and young people to upload their own pictures and stories without having to be validated or seen by anyone.

It also means significant people can input information for the child at a time that best suits their needs, rather than being given timescales that limit their ability to contribute. Children and young people are able to gain information on an ongoing basis, if this is felt appropriate, without the need for exchanging personal information such as home addresses, telephone numbers or email addresses too. As an additional safety and suitability check, all contributions go through an editor who will decide if the child should have the information now or at a later date, meaning information can be stored for the future when the child is ready for it. This can reduce the number of children and young people coming back into services, because they didn’t have the information they needed as their needs changed.

We have ongoing developments with ARCBOX and are so excited about the upcoming pilot of a new ‘Communication Management Application’, which will digitally house and manage contact that can be continuous in the child’s timeline of their life story. So please do watch this space!"

Who is using ARCBOX?

ARCBOX is currently used by a number of Local Authorities for children in their care, as well as ARC Adoption families. The ARC digital life story team provide thorough training and support to children’s social workers so that they can confidently offer it to the children in their care.

There are many benefits for Local Authorities and other organisations when using ARCBOX as a therapeutic life story tool. Information can be contributed by a range of authorised individuals, saving valuable time, resources and duplication of information. The information is safely stored and used when appropriate for the child’s needs and understanding, without being lost in transition from one worker to another, hidden away in filing cabinets or damaged along the way.

Our goal is for more children and families across the country to be able to access ARCBOX and benefit from the vitally important ongoing connection it provides to history and identity.

Below is some fantastic feedback we have received about ARCBOX from a foster carer:

"Thank you for the training this morning. I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to get started with my girls who are with us long term. Hoping to put loads on retrospectively too as they have been here four years this month and this is the best way of recording I have seen (and easy for a technically challenged person like me).

As an aside, you should consider releasing a version for the general public as I know many friends who would love this and I would love to do it for my son too."

We have also received lovely feedback from some of our younger users:

"I love playing on the games on ARCBOX. The AVATAR is my favourite part because I can change my top when my football team is winning or losing. I love taking photos and I can add my photos straight from my phone, even when I’m on my holiday."

Future Developments – digitising letterbox communications

As mentioned by Lynn, the latest tool in development by the ARC Adoption team is an innovative Communications Management Application (Comms App) which will support a more modern approach to traditional letterbox – and provide safe two-way communication between children and birth family. The Comms App will be closely integrated with our existing ARCBOX life story platform, enabling all communications to reside in one place for the child.

If you would like to find out more about ARCBOX or the Comms App we have in development, please get in touch with us here, letting us know if you are interested from a professional or personal capacity , and we'll be happy to get back to you.