Adoption Support Fund: Q&A for parents

Is there limit to how much funding a family can access?

Yes. Level of demand for the ASF has been far higher than anticipated and so to address this the DfE have introduced a ‘fair usage’ cap of £5,000 per child until the end of March 2017. An additional £2 million as also been contributed to the fund this year (from £21 million to £23 million). Next year, £28 million will be allocated to the fund with further increases up to 2020.

Why did you choose a limit of £5k per child?

Over 80% of applications to the fund fall within this limit. Since May 2015, the average spend per child has been around £4k.

What if the support we need costs over £5,000?

Where a particular child has an exceptional need for therapeutic support over £5,000 and up to £30,000, funding is still possible on a ‘match funding’ arrangement with the relevant local authority to ensure families receive the support they need.

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.

Who is eligible for support from the ASF fund?

The ASF funds therapeutic support for children and families where the child has been placed with the family for adoption and where they have left care through an adoption order. From 1 April 2016, the ASF was made available to families that adopted children from outside England from other UK countries and from overseas via inter-country adoptions (once the placement has been made and the child is living in England). It was also made available to previously looked-after children living in Special Guardianship arrangements. Therapeutic support provided by the ASF can now be funded up to and including age 21 (25 with an SEN statement).

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. The government therefore asked all national and local health service commissioners to specifically consider adopted children’s needs when developing local services (NHS Mandate priority), and 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. This guidance can be found here.

The Government 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. Their report can be found here.