Parents' questions answered Here we provide answers to a number of frequently asked questions about the Adoption Support Fund. Q: Can Voluntary Adoption Agencies carry out adoption support needs assessments for the Adoption Support Fund? A: The Local Authority that places the child with you is responsible for assessing your adoption support needs for three years after the adoption order is complete. 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 be able to apply to the ASF on your behalf. The social worker would be expected to talk to you about who can provide the types of service that you need and agree with you the provider who would best meet the identified support needs. Following a successful application, funding will be released to the Local Authority to commission the approved services. Q: Until what age do adopted/SGO young people remain eligible for the Adoption Support Fund? A: The Adoption Support Fund can provide funding to meet the support needs of eligible children and young people aged up to and including the age of 21 years or up to and including the age of 25 years if the eligible recipient has a Special Educational Needs (SEN) Statement or Education Health Care (EHC) Plan. Q: Does the fund pay reasonable travel expenses for ASF-funded therapy? A: The Adoption Support Fund (ASF) covers necessary expenses for travel for the delivery of post-adoption and Special Guardian Order (SGO) therapeutic support. The ASF is funded by government through public monies. The rates for travel and subsistence are set as they are to maximise the funding towards direct delivery of adoption support to families and children. Local authorities may wish to reimburse more than the allowable rates but the application to the ASF should only claim for amounts within those rates. Q: The child I care for under a Special Guardianship Order was not born in England. Are we still eligible for the Adoption Support Fund? A: Children cared for under a Special Guardian Order (SGO), living in England, are eligible for funding if they were a Looked After Child (LAC) immediately before the order was granted. Q: I am intending to submit two separate applications to the ASF (via my LA) for my two children who have different needs. Will two separate assessments be carried out or will there be one assessment taking into account the needs of both my children? A: To access the Adoption Support Fund, you will need to have an assessment of your family's adoption support needs by the local authority. The local authority will carry out an assessment and support plan for the adoptive family and then make the application to the fund. Should the local authority identify that the adoptive children have different needs which require further specialist assessment, then they can apply to the fund for further assessments. Q: Our local authority requires us to have a safeguarding assessment before we can start the process of accessing the ASF. Is this acceptable? A: It is a matter for the local authority to determine whether it wishes to carry out a safeguarding assessment as part of the process of applying to the Adoption Support Fund. To access funding from the ASF, you will need to have an assessment of your family's 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 order is complete. After three years it becomes the responsibility of the local authority where you live (if different). Q: How does my local authority receive the funds for the ASF? A: The funds will be deposited into the local authority bank account on the last working day of each month, depending on the date on which the application is approved, and the next available payment run. Support services funded by the ASF can begin as soon as the application is approved. However; - applications approved before the 19th of each calendar month will be paid at the end of that calendar month. - applications approved after the 19th of each calendar month will be paid at the end of the following mont Q: When can a local authority apply for support for a child with a Special Guardianship Order? A: Children, living in England and being cared for under a Special Guardianship Order (SGO) who were in care immediately prior to the SGO taking effect are in scope of the fund. Applications to the fund can be submitted by the LA prior to the SGO being in place but funds will not be released until the order takes effect. Q: What support is available to parents via the Adoption Support Fund? A: The Adoption Suport Fund (ASF) provides a range of therapeutic parenting programmes to equip parents with skills and techniques to therapeutically parent their child, to address their child(ren)'s assessed needs; it does not cover therapy for the parents. The range of the therapeutic parenting services approved include, though are not limited to: AdoPT course, Adoption UK Peer-to-Peer Support Service, Great Behaviour Breakdown, KEEP, Non Violent Resistance and Secure Base/Safe Base Parenting Programme. Q: How do I apply for the Adoption Support Fund? A: To access the ASF, you will need to have an assessment of your family's 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 order is complete. 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 can apply to the ASF on your behalf. The social worker would 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 indpendent provider, or an NHS provider. In the case of a successful application, funding will be released to the Local Authority to commission the approved services. Q: Are there any plans to extend the range of therapies/type of support offered via the Fund? Especially for parents? A: The ASF has been created to support as many adoptive families as possible by focusing on the therapeutic needs of the child/family. The scope of the ASF has grown organically to appropriately meet the demands of essential therapy services required in the context of the guiding principles, and to ensure that as many adoptive/eligible SGO families can access the fund as possible. Currently there is a wide range of therapeutic support accessed. The kinds of support most frequently provided are therapeutic parenting (27%), psychotherapy for the child (21%), specialist assessments of need (20%), and creative therapies (16%). The therapies in scope is not an exhaustive list and is subject to change, though the guiding principles of the fund shall remain. Q: There are three children in my family who have all been assessed and found to be in need of therapeutic support. Is this year's fair access limit per child or per family? A: The fair access limit of £5,000 is applied to each eligible child for this financial year. So your three children each have a fair access limit of £5,000 this year. Q: How does this year's fair access limit apply to applications that request funding on a termly basis? I am worried my children will get an interruption to therapy. A: Due to unprecendented demand and to ensure that as many families as possible can benefit from support through the fund, the government have made an additional £6 million available for 2018/2019 (£37 million in total). It has also brought in a fair access limit of £5,000 a year per child for therapy and an additional £2,500 access limit for specialist assessments. If your £5,000 access limit per child has been exceeded in this financial year, your local authority will have to make a case for exceptional funding and agree to jointly fund any future therapy for this financial year. Criteria for match-funding are: a high risk of adoption breakdown without high cost support Local authorities and regional adoption agencies 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 Q: Our completed application has been with our local authority for some time but nothing is happening. I've been told that making a complaint about the lack of response from our local authority will result in the application being put on hold while the complaint is investigated. Is this correct? A: All applications to the ASF are completely anonymous due to data protection, therefore we would recommend that you pursue updates on applications directly from your local authority post adoption / permanence team. If you feel unhappy with the way in which your Local Authority social care team have supported you in accessing the Adoption Support Fund, there is a seven stage approach for managing complaints that can be found on the ASF website. The aim of this complaints process is to resolve any issues as quickly as possible. The process allows the ASF to make contact with the relevant local authority on your behalf to support them to resolve any issues that could be preventing or delaying the submission of an application. Please visit the ASF website www.adoptionsupportfund.co.uk for more information or to contact us please use the Contact Us link, email us at [email protected] or alternatively telephone our helpline on 01223 463517. Q: Can you apply directly to the fund or do you have to go through the local authority you adopted through? A: To access the ASF, you will need to have an assessment of your families’ adoption support needs completed by the local authority that has statutory responsibility for your family. You have the right to request this 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 order is complete. 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, the local authority would then be able to apply to the ASF on your behalf subject to the scope and criteria. Q: If our assessment of need identifies that we need financial help, will the fund provide this? A: No, the fund does not provide financial assistance, please speak with your local authority regarding this. The fund covers eligible costs relating to therapeutic support services for all adopted children living in England and young people up to age 21 where they have left care through adoption or special guardianship arrangements. Q: My daughter is 24 but has an education, health and care (EHC) plan. Is she eligible for support from the fund? A: Eligible children with a current Statement of Need or Education, Health and Care plan may be supported by the fund up to and including 25 years of age. Q: Will the fund pay for therapy for us as parents or is it only aimed at support for children and young people? A: The ASF will fund certain types of therapeutic support for eligible children or the whole family, not therapy specifically for parents. Q: I'm struggling to find therapists/services that I think might be able to help us. Is there any kind of directory available of the sorts of interventions that the fund can pay for and where they can be found? A: Should therapeutic services be identified as beneficial to your family following the assessment of adoption support needs, the local authority will be able to apply to the ASF on your behalf. The social worker would be able to talk to you about potential providers for the services that you need. Q: My child is aged over 18 and no longer lives at home. Does he have to approach the local authority himself to request an assessment of need or is that something we should do? A: For adopted children aged 18 and over, they do not need to be living with their adoptive parents to qualify for the ASF. Either the young person or the parents can approach the local authority to request an assessment of need. Q: My daughter is 21 and is not currently in education due to health issues. She had an SEN statement when she was able to attend college. Will this be accepted as evidence to prove her eligibility for the fund? A: The fund is available to eligible children up to and including 21 years of age, as your daughter is 21 she would be eligible with or without an SEN / EHCP. Eligible children with a current Statement of Need/Education, Health and Care plan may be supported by the fund up to and including 25 years of age. Q: I have two children, a ten month old and a five year old. Will both children’s needs be considered in our assessment? A: You will need to ask your local authority to complete an assessment of your adoption support needs, both adopted children and siblings could be included in this assessment. If the assessment shows that therapeutic services would be beneficial, your local authority could make an application to the fund. Q: I adopted my child before the ASF existed. Can I still apply to the fund? A: The Fund is available to all children adopted from care, not just newly adopted children. The ASF will fund pre and post order support for children adopted from care in England or living in England up to and including age 21 or 25 with an EHC plan or SEN statement. Q: My adopted son is 24 but has special educational needs. Is he eligible for support from the fund? A: From the 1st April 2016 the scope of the Fund was widened to be available for adopted children and young people up to and including 21 years of age. Adopted children with a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education, Health and Care Plan are eligible to access the Fund up to and including 25 years of age. Q: My application has had to be resubmitted to the ASF. What is the reason for this? A: On receipt of an application, the ASF will complete a full review of the information provided to ensure that the child / family and the services identified meet the eligibility criteria of the Fund and that the financial information is correct. An application may be returned to the local authority to seek further information or clarification. The ASF will work with the local authority to make this process as quick and as straightforward as possible so that the requested support can be accessed as soon as possible. Q: Does an assessment of needs for the Adoption Support Fund have to be undertaken by a social worker or can it be done by an assistant/family support worker? A: The assessment of adoption support needs is the responsibility of the LA and should be undertaken by a social worker, preferably in partnership with a clinical health professional. The LA can apply to the fund to pay for a specialist assessment of the child's adoption support needs if they believe it is necessary. A social work assistant or family support worker can contribute to the assessment where they know the family well and their view should be taken into consideration when deciding what adoption support services should be provided. Q: Can I appeal if I disagree with the assessment of our support needs? A: The ASF does not decide what support adoptive families should receive; this should be based on a thorough assessment of your family's adoption support needs conducted by the local authority, preferably in partnership with a clinical health professional. If you disagree with the local authority's assessment of your adoption support needs, you can use the already established local authority complaints procedures or speak to your local councillor. Q: We have identified a service provider we would like to use but they are based in Wales. Will the fund pay for this? A: Yes, if they are OFSTED registered adoption support services or services procured through an English local authority, services may be delivered in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland although we would encourage providers to travel to the family.