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Adoption Support Fund

Adoption Support Fund

The Adoption Support Fund (ASF) has been established because many families need some kind of therapeutic support following adoption and too many have struggled to get the help they need in the past. The Fund will enable them to access the services they need more easily in future. The fund has been set up to work in conjunction with other adoption support services.

Who is eligible for the Adoption Support Fund?

The fund is available for children living in England up to and including the age of 21 (or 25 with a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education Health & Care Plan) who:

  • Are adopted and were previously in local authority care in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
  • Are adopted from overseas.
  • Are subject to a Special Guardianship Order.

What do I need to do?

To access the Fund, you will need to have an assessment of your family’s adoption support needs by the local authority. This is a current legal obligation of all local authorities.

Where this assessment identifies that therapeutic services would be beneficial to your family, the local authority will apply to the Fund on your behalf, who will then release funding to the local authority. The local authority social worker will be expected to talk to you about who can provide the types of service that you need and which provider you would prefer.

Who provides the services?

Local authorities, independent providers (OFSTED registered or the local authority making the application assumes responsibility for quality assurance as an OFSTED registered organisation) and NHS providers e.g. Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS – offering services within the scope of the ASF) can all provide services through the ASF.

What support will I receive through the ASF?

The Fund will provide money for a range of therapeutic services that are identified to help achieve the following positive outcomes for you and your child. The amount that can be claimed is capped at £5000 per child per year until 2021 as well as a separate amount of up to £2,500 per child if specialist assessments are needed. Therapy and assessment above this amount and up to a limit of £30,000 may be match funded by the local authority. These fair access limits on funding will be in place until at least 2021.

The therapies funded are those identified to help achieve the following positive outcomes for you and your child:

  • Improved relationships with friends, family members, teachers and school staff
  • Improved engagement with learning
  • Improved emotional regulation and behaviour management
  • Improved confidence and ability to enjoy a positive family life and social relationships

To achieve these outcomes the Fund will pay for therapeutic support and services including but not restricted to:

What will the Adoption Support Fund not pay for?

Local Authorities should already be providing the following under their adoption support services:

  • Information, advice, guidance and signposting
  • Counselling
  • Opportunities for adoptive parents to interact (e.g. support groups, family days)
  • Mediation of contact with birth families
  • Mediation services when an adoptive family is at risk of disruption
  • Financial support
  • Basic Life story work
  • Short break care where no therapeutic input is provided

The ASF will also not pay for:

  • Support for physical medical conditions
  • Speech and language therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other universal health services.
  • Education support
  • Membership of clubs and organisations
  • Legal support
  • Support provided by private sector and third sector organisations that are not Ofsted regulated unless commissioned through Local Authorities
  • Training of staff
  • Support not delivered in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • Animal, pet or equine therapy
  • Ex- Local authority (associate) social workers

For a fuller list of what services are in and out of scope of the fund, download the ‘Service Categorisation Guidance’ from the Adoption Support Fund website.

Adoption Support Fund: Q&A for parents

What if I disagree with the assessment of our support needs?

Adoptive families will not be able to approach the ASF directly for funding. If you disagree with the local authority’s assessment of your need they will need to resolve this with the local authority using the current appeals mechanisms. When an assessment is carried out, the local authority notifies the adopter in writing of the outcome and must inform them of the timescale to make an appeal if they wish (28 days is recommended good practice). The local authority cannot make their final decision until the period of time for making an appeal has expired or the adopter informs them that they are satisfied with the proposed decision.

Does the ASF fund support before the adoption order is granted?

On 14 January 2016, the government announced that the Adoption Support Fund can be used to provide therapeutic support for children from the point at which they are placed with their adoptive families.

What about Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)?

Many adopted children need the support of mainstream and specialist health services, but sometimes struggle to obtain these. All national and local health service commissioners have been asked to specifically consider adopted children’s needs when developing local services (NHS Mandate priority), and have commissioned the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) to develop guidance on attachment issues to help professionals respond to the specific needs of many adopted children. The Government has also set up a taskforce to overhaul the way CAMHS are commissioned, to ensure young people are offered the most appropriate care, whether in the community or in hospital. If your child needs access to CAMHS services talk to your GP and Local authority.

Further information

Where an assessment identifies that you may need other support, such as financial help, or access to peer support groups, the local authority will be responsible for providing this, at their discretion, as is the situation now. The Adoption Passport sets out the other types of support and help that you are eligible for. The Pupil Premium is available for children adopted from care as well, to help with your child’s needs at school. The Centre provides a Therapy Service which can be accessed using the Adoption Support Fund.

A report from Adoption UK, published in October 2017, on the initial outcomes of the Adoption Support Fund is available here.