The Adoption Passport: A support guide for adopters

Children adopted from care can have ongoing needs, and you and your child may benefit from support. The Adoption Passport gives an overview the support adopters in England may be entitled to.

For your child

Schools are asked to give all children adopted from care priority access to schools, which means that your child should be able to attend whichever school you think best meets their needs. Guidance to school admission authorities can be found here.

Your child will also benefit from the Early Years Pupil Premium and Pupil Premium – additional education funding to help meet their needs.

If your child is 2 years old you can take up the offer of a free early education place. For more information about provision in your area you should contact your local authority’s Family Information Service. You can also find out more here.

If your child needs extra support, you can ask your local authority to assess their needs for adoption support services. If you think your child may have special educational needs you can ask your local authority to assess these needs too.

For you as an adopter

Many adopters are entitled to adoption leave and pay when their child is placed with them. This entitlement is now more similar to maternity and paternity leave pay, and includes the right to take time off when you are meeting your child, before they move in with you.

Adopters may have priority for council housing. If you are living in council housing and claiming Housing Benefit or Universal Credit while waiting for a child to move in you can also apply for funding (Discretionary Housing Payments) so that you are not penalised financially while you have an empty spare room.

You are also entitled to a summary of your child’s health from his/her local authority’s medical adviser before he/she is placed with you, and to a life story book to help your child understand his or her early life.

Adoption Support Services

Local authorities provide and fund a range of support services for children adopted from care including:

  • counselling, information and advice
  • help with behavioural, attachment and other problems
  • money e.g. to help with special care needs, or for former foster parents
  • help with contact between an adopted child and his or her birth family
  • meetings and events to enable groups of adopters and adoptive children to get together
  • training to help adopters to meet the needs of their adoptive child
  • short breaks for an adopted child with another carer
  • help where an adoption breaks down.

Access to these services depends on your circumstances but you can ask for an assessment at any time, no matter how long after the adoption.

Support Services Advice

Your local authority will have an Adoption Support Services Adviser to help you access adoption support and other specialist services, such as Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). The NHS commissions health services to meet the needs of adopted children, and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence will produce new guidance so that your GP will understand the problems you may face.

Every adopter is entitled to an assessment of their adoption support needs, but local authorities do not have to provide support in response to an assessment. Which services you are able to access will depend on your circumstances. Local authorities are now required by law to tell adopters about adoption support services and their right to an assessment.

The Adoption and Special Guardianship Support Fund is also available to finance certain services and therapies. Where an 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 will talk to you about who can provide the types of service that you need and which provider you would prefer.

If you want advice on adoption support you can also contact one of the many adoption support organisations, such as Adoption UK or take a look at First Steps e-learning that will help you understand the rewards and challenges of adoptive parenting.

Which local authority?

The local authority that places the child with you is responsible for assessing your adoption support needs for three years after the adoption. After three years it becomes the responsibility of the local authority where you live (if different).

Comments and Complaints

If you are unhappy with the support provided by your local authority, or with the time taken to carry out an assessment, you can complain under the Local Authority Complaints Procedure. Thereafter if you are not satisfied you may be able to refer your complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.