The Department for Education (DfE) has announced a short-term extension to the Adoption Support Fund (ASF) beyond March 2021. In line with the approach taken last year, from July 2020, families will be able to start nine months of therapeutic support, even if it does not end until after March 2021. 

The announcement was made by Lord Agnew during a House of Lords debate on the ASF last night (13/02/2019). This transitional arrangement will continue until the outcome of the spending review is confirmed. 

The ASF funds therapeutic support for families whose children left care through adoption or special guardianship arrangements. These children are likely to have experienced severe trauma prior to coming into care and need therapeutic support to help them thrive.

In last night’s debate, shadow education minister Lord Watson said that for the government to bring the fund to an end next year would be "inconceivable" and "an act of vandalism and an abdication of responsibility that I simply cannot imagine any Government contemplating".

Responding to the announcement, Adoption UK Chief Executive Dr Sue Armstrong Brown said: "Extending the Fund has thrown a lifeline to families bringing up some of the most vulnerable children in England."

Support that is agreed and begins in the financial year 2020/21 is guaranteed. From July 2020, support will be delivered over nine months rather than the usual twelve. This arrangement will be in place until the outcome of the Spending Review, and its impact on the future of the ASF, are known.

Last month, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that adoption would be a “priority” for the new government. This followed the injection of an additional £5 million into the fund for 2020/21, taking the overall budget for this financial year to £45m. 

Dr Sue Armstrong Brown added: “Many families will be mightily relieved about the reprieve to the ASF. But there’s no doubt that anxieties will persist until the Government makes a long term commitment to supporting adoptive families. We will continue to work with adopters to make the case for the help their children deserve.” 

The Department for Education has compiled a Q & A which you can download here:
ASF Transitionary Fund Q & A - 2020/21