The Adoption Support Fund (ASF)
What is the Adoption Support Fund (ASF)?
The Adoption Support Fund (ASF) is a new fund established to help pay for essential therapy services for adoptive families as and when they need it. It has been set up because many families need some kind of support following adoption and too many have struggled to get the help they need in the past. The ASF will enable adoptive families to access the services they need more easily in future.
Who is eligible for support from the ASF?
The ASF is available for children up to and including the age of 18 (or 25 with an SEN statement) who have been adopted from local authority care in England or adopted from Wales but living in England.
What will the ASF pay for?
The types of services within scope of the ASF are those assessed as being the most needed by adopters but are often not provided:
- Sensory integration therapy
- Systemic therapy
- Filial therapy
- Psychotherapy Theraplay
- Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy
- Creative therapies (e.g. art, music, drama, play)
- Specialist clinical assessments where required
- CAMHS assessment, multidisciplinary assessment including education and health, cognitive and neuropsychological assessment, other mental.
- Therapeutic parenting training
- Extensive therapeutic life story work
- Respite care (where it is part of a therapeutic intervention)
So what will the ASF not pay for?
Local Authorities should provide 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
- Ex- Local authority (associate) social workers
Who will provide the services?
Local authorities, independent providers (Ofsted registered) and NHS providers (offering services within the scope of the ASF) can all provide services through the ASF.
Find out more about ASF
Find out more about the ASF, like how to access the funding and the limitations for the funding.
How can I access funding from the ASF?
To access the ASF, you will need to have an assessment of your families’ adoption support needs by the local authority. You have the right to request an assessment and your local authority is required by law to conduct one.
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).
Where the social worker identifies that therapeutic services would be beneficial to your family, they will apply to the ASF on your behalf, who will release funding to the local authority.
The 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. This could be the local authority itself, a neighbouring local authority, an independent provider or an NHS provider.
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.
Is there a limit to how much funding a family can access?
No, it is not about how much rather what is required to meet the needs of the child and the family. This will be determined through the statutory assessment of adoption support needs carried out by the local authority.
What if I disagree with the assessment of our support needs?
Adoptive families will not be able to approach the ASF directly for funding. Where adoptive families disagree with the LA assessment of need they will need to resolve this with the LA using the current complaints mechanisms.
Why is the Fund not available to children adopted from overseas?
At present, only children who have been in local authority care under the terms of the Children Act 1989 immediately prior to adoption, are eligible to access funding from the ASF. A looked after child is one who is in the care of, or provided with accommodation by, an English or Welsh local authority. When a looked after child is adopted, the Government's policy is to continue to offer support for the child and their new family. This is in recognition that the child remains vulnerable and may have a high level of need.
Parents of children adopted from overseas are, however, entitled to ask their local authority’s adoption team to undertake an assessment of their child's support needs. Once an assessment is completed, the local authority can consider what support is available. The following web link to the Adoption Statutory Guidance provides further information on entitlements (see Chapter 9):
Why is the Fund not available to children who leave care on an SGO?
The law requires local authorities to put in place a range of dedicated special guardianship support services. These include financial support, support groups, help for contact, therapy, advice and information. For children who were looked after i.e. were under the care of the local authority, immediately prior to the making of the Special Guardianship Order, the law requires local authorities to carry out an assessment of their support needs, either at the request of the child, the special guardian or the birth parent. In cases where the child was not previously looked after, local authorities may offer such an assessment. Provision of support is, however, discretionary. Regulations place a duty on local authorities to conduct annual reviews where services are delivered; this applies irrespective of whether or not the child was a previously a looked after child.
DfE is currently reviewing the impact that special guardianship has had as a permanence option for children leaving care. The University of York has been commissioned to conduct a detailed research study into the impact of special guardianship.