I was going to start this post with the statement “I’m sure you’ve heard of the Adoption Support Fund (ASF)”. I then realised that assumption may not be true.
Our children have been home for 10 and 9 years respectively. Yet it’s only in the last 18 months or so that we’ve been accessing the ASF. So it really could be the case that you are an adoptive parent who hasn’t heard of this fund. Someone who could use some therapeutic input for your family. But maybe someone who has no idea how to that support and how to pay for it!
So, what I’d like to do is talk to you about the Adoption Support Fund over this, and the next couple of blog posts. To give you all the information you need, and the places you can find it. And to tell you how we’ve used the fund so far.
This is particularly important because, despite lobbying efforts, the Government has still only committed to delivering the ASF until July 2020.
So, what is The Adoption Support Fund?
Introduced in 2015, the goal of the ASF is to provide adoptive families with the therapeutic support that so many of them need. Since 2015, 38,000 families have benefited from this support.
The evidence shows that the money spent on the ASF is a wise investment. By reducing disruption of placements and providing critical support, it reduces the more costly need for social worker/foster carer intervention. It keeps families together and it helps them function better.
Who is it available to?
Children up to the age of 21 in a pre- or post-adoption placement, or with a Special Guardianship Order (SGO). They can extend the age limit to 25 if the child has a statement of Special Educational Needs or and Educational Health Care Plan.
It bears reiterating that both adoptive parents and families with a SGO can apply to the fund.
What does it cover?
Adoption UK has a comprehensive list of the therapies covered by the fund. You’ll find it here.
How much can I get?
The ASF has a ‘fair access’ limit of £5,000 per child. So, for example, in our case, we have two children accessing the fund, so we get £10,000 for therapeutic support this year.
This is in place because the fund is a limited pot of money, and enables the maximum number of families to access some support.
If a specialist assessment is needed before treatment begins, an extra £2500 can be made available for that purpose.
In exceptional cases the Local Authority can be asked to match fund the ASF, if for example:
– a high risk of adoption breakdown without high cost support
– LAs and RAAs dealing with an unusually high number of complex cases – that they cannot afford to fund without additional support from the ASF
– additional funding would help to progress hard to place adoptions
– a lack of available, affordable therapeutic support means higher cost provision is required
In these cases the ASF will pay 50% of the cost, over an above the Fair Access limit, to a maximum of £30,000
Surely it can’t be that simple?
Well….it is and it isn’t.
The first thing you need to know is that it is the Local Authority who conduct the assessment for ASF.
This is still the case if you adopted via an independent adoption agency.
This in itself can be problematic as many Local Authorities post adoption support units are understaffed and over-stretched.
From our own experience, we’ve had significant delays in actually getting an appointment with a social worker. We’ve had 3 social workers in 18 months. We’re currently awaiting the appointment of a 4th. We’ve been waiting for this since 5th June and still haven’t heard anything.
Our difficulties have also been exacerbated by our Local Authority joining with other authorities to become a Regional Adoption Agency. This has been throwing everything into a level of disarray. Our experience has been cancelled appointments, staff changes, and information not being properly communicated in handovers.
The timescale for processing applications is only 20 days. The money is sent to the LA at the end of every month. However, the actual time from making the first enquiry to actually getting a therapeutic appointment can be substantially longer. This will be due to other delays like those mentioned above.
Additionally, the ASF works on annual cycles. What this means is that every year you have to reapply for your funding. Which can result in delays and breaks in accessing often very necessary therapy.
ASF – is this a good thing or no?
Undoubtably the Adoption Support Fund is a very good thing indeed. 38,000 families since 2015 have received therapeutic support that they possibly wouldn’t have been able to access in other circumstances.
However, it’s not without problems, and at the moment is only secure for a short period of time.
Tune in next time…
…for a full list of ASF resources and links.