Adoption Support Fund updates and FAQ The Department for Education has allocated £8 million to enable adoptive families to access vital support through the covid-19 lockdown period. Regional adoption agencies and local authorities can access this funding via the Adoption Support Fund until the end of June. Regional adoption agencies and local authorities have discretion to spend their share of the money on the support that adoptive families in their areas most need at this time. It can be used to pay for a broader range of support than is normally available under the ASF to ensure families receive practical and appropriate support during this difficult and uncertain time. For example, agencies can use the funding to: buy services from voluntary sector providers to provide virtual support to groups of families and children through for example a helpline or virtual peer to peer support or paying for adopters to access membership support services from voluntary sector organisations. The application process has also been streamlined for agencies to ensure families receive support in a timely fashion. Based on Q&A from Mott MacDonald, who administer the ASF. Can LAs/RAAs still make applications on behalf of families? Yes. The ASF team are currently operating business as usual. Will applications take longer than the usual 20 days for the ASF team to process? No. The intention is to streamline the application process, making decision within 5 working days where possible. Will the ASF helpline maintain its core operating hours?Yes. the helpline is operating as usual and we will update you should anychanges occur. Can therapy be delivered virtually if families/providers are not able to meet face to face for sessions? Yes, if the family and LA/RAA agree. The LA/RAA will need to ensure that a safe and secure method is used to ensure confidentiality, data protection and privacy during the virtual sessions. Can LA/RAA staff who are clinically qualified take over delivery in the short term where a provider is not able to deliver? Yes, if they are suitably qualified to deliver the therapy. The therapy must be similar and costings the same or less. Can funding be transferred from 2019/20 to 2020/21 where therapy is delayed due to the Coronavirus? Yes. In cases where sessions have been delayed or postponed due to Coronavirus, funding that has already been issued to local authorities/regional adoption agencies and allocated to sessions in 2019/20 will not be required to be returned. Does the three-month therapy rule still apply when making an application for a specialist assessment?No. LAs/RAAs can apply for up to 6 months therapy at the time of applying for a specialist assessment. This should help reduce the burden on social workers and LA/RAA staff and enable support to continue pending the outcome of the assessment and start of any therapy identified from the assessment. Will retrospective applications be accepted where the delay in submission is due to coronavirus?Yes. For services to be delivered in 2020/21, a delay in submitting an application dueto coronavirus will be accepted as a valid retrospective reason.