An improvement in the support offered to adoptive families has been identified as part of the latest evaluation of the regionalisation of adoption.

The move to a regionalised system has prompted agencies to reassess the support they are providing, enabling them to identify and address gaps in provision, according to the Government report.

The transition to larger, regional adoption agencies (RAAs) has precipitated three structural changes which are helping to improve the support which agencies are able to deliver: the pooling of resources, sharing of best practice and fewer out-of-area placements.

However, the evaluation highlights the crucial role the Adoption Support Fund (ASF) has played in enabling RAAs to buy-in specialist support and develop innovative in-house provision. Funding for future support was a major source of concern for RAAs, with uncertainty surrounding the ASF beyond 2020.

The report identified a huge demand for support services from families. And agencies are worried they will not have the resources to sustain the same level of support and expressed the need to manage families’ expectations.

This comes a week after the All-Party Group for Adoption and Permanence called on the government to retain the fund until 2030. Its Investing in Families report illustrated the vital role the ASF has played in delivering timely and appropriate support for families over the last five years. Approximately 80% of adopters said the ASF was meeting a need which cannot be met elsewhere.

The fear is that any gains made by the shift to regionalised systems in terms of support for families will be off-set if the ASF is not retained beyond 2020.

Adoption UK’s chief executive, Dr Sue Armstrong Brown, said: “It’s encouraging to see the evaluation emphasise the important role of peer-support and adopter-led services as an important part of a wider support offer.

“However, it must be clear that this evaluation is based purely on the view of service providers. It does not account for the views of service users, adoptive families, which must be heard to get a full understanding of the impact of regionalisation.

“Our recently published Adoption Barometer found that more than half of the adoptive parents living in England do not know whether their agency is part of an RAA. While nearly two-thirds do not feel that RAAs offer a greater variety of services than the old system.

“What the evaluation has re-affirmed is that the ASF is the crown-jewel when it comes to post-adoption support in England. It’s essential the government takes the opportunity to safeguard its future at the Spending Review.”