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.
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 under a Child Arrangement Order (CAO) to enable the assessment of a potential special guardian, while the CAO is in force.
- are subject to a Special Guardianship Order and were previously in care. Comprehensive online information for special guardians has been published by the Family Rights Group
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.
The local authority that places the child with you is responsible for assessing your adoption support needs for three years after the adoption order. After three years it becomes the responsibility of the local authority where you live (if different).
Where the 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 to the local authority to fund a range of therapeutic services.
The amount per child per year is capped at £5000 for therapy, 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 requires match funding by the local authority.
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:
- Therapeutic parenting training
- Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy
- Filial therapy
- Creative therapies e.g. art, music, drama, play
- Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)
- Non-Violent Resistance (NVR)
- Sensory integration therapy/Sensory attachment therapy
- Multi Systemic Therapy
- Mentalisation Based Therapy
- Extensive life story work with a therapeutic intervention (where therapy is used to help the young person understand and cope with the trauma and difficulties that their life story work might revisit)
- Short Breaks are in scope where they include a substantial element of eligible therapeutic therapies
- Specialist Assessment that meets all of the criteria below:
- An in-depth assessment of the child and family’s needs with a focus on trauma and attachment, and how this demonstrates the links to the assessment of support needs.
- Led and undertaken by a qualified clinician(s).
- For the purposes of the ASF, a qualified clinician would be someone who diagnoses and treats patients; is suitably qualified and is licensed to practice via a regulator such as the Health and Care Professional Council e.g. a trained Clinical Psychologist or Attachment Psychotherapist.
- Result in a therapeutic support plan for the child(ren) / family.
The following are not in scope of the Fund:
- Standalone assessments for single conditions, e.g. ADHD, FASD, autism, sensory integration, unless they are part of a wider specialist assessment which meets the criteria for the Specialist Assessment FAL i.e. are in depth, covering trauma and attachment, led and undertaken by a qualified clinician and resulting in a therapeutic support plan.
- Standalone specialist assessments, including any baselining specialist assessments, are also out of scope of the Therapy Fair Access Limit.
- A general social work assessment of adoption/SGO support needs remains the responsibility of the local authority/regional adoption agency.
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
- 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
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 Pupil Premium is available for children adopted from care as well, to help with your child’s needs at school.
Good authorities will work together across social care, health and education to provide a holistic package of support. There is further work going on in government to improve mental health support via a Department of Health taskforce and to encourage joined-up assessments of your family’s needs.
If you have any further questions about the ASF take a look through our Adoption Support Fund: Q&A for Parents, Adoption Support Fund: Q&A for Service Providers and Adoption Support Fund: Q&A for Local Authorities.