The Adoption Support Fund (ASF) is having an overwhelmingly positive impact for adoptive families across England, according to an evaluation commissioned by the Department for Education.

The majority of respondents to the evaluation felt the support they have received has been beneficial for themselves (84%), their children (81%) and their family as a whole (76%). These findings largely reinforce those of the APPG for Adoption & Permanence in its Investing in Families report, which called on the government to retain the fund until 2030.

The evaluation, conducted by the Tavistock Institute, identified improvement in parents’ understanding of their children’s needs and increased confidence in taking care of their children as the greatest contribution of the ASF.

It also found that despite positivity about the benefits of the fund, the levels of difficulties facing families remained very high, reflecting the ongoing need for support in most cases.

The evaluation suggested, among other things, the need to consider how support can be made available on an ongoing basis, pointing to the observable pattern of repeat applications. This echoes the APPG’s call for the removal of the current annual application requirement to avoid damaging disruptions in therapy.

Commenting on the evaluation, Adoption UK chief executive Dr Sue Armstrong Brown, said: “Once again the message from adopters is loud and clear: ‘the ASF needs to be retained beyond 2020’.

“I welcome the evaluation’s emphasis on the need for ongoing support for adoptive families. The impacts of trauma can be lifelong so there is no reason to believe families won’t need long-term support too.

“The evaluation also includes some interesting recommendations. I hope the government considers these along with those included in the Investing in Families report with a view to delivering an improved ASF from 2020.”