Being adopted can be a lot to handle for a child. The adoption process can be an overwhelming and traumatising experience for them. They might also be struggling with deeper emotions like anxiety or grief because they’ve been separated from their natural birth parents.
To help them deal with any emotional stress they experience, they can sometimes develop coping mechanisms. These coping mechanisms can come out in different ways, and they can sometimes affect their ability to form relationships with people or control their feelings and behaviour. This can be equally as tough to handle for the adoptive parents or special guardians.
To help the adoptive parents and special guardians get themselves and their adopted child the therapeutic help and support they need following the adoption, they can call upon the Adoption Support Fund (ASF) via their Local Authority or Regional Adoption Agency.
What is the Adoption Support Fund (ASF)?
The Adoption Support Fund (ASF) allocates funds to Local Authorities and Regional Adoption Agencies to help eligible families or Special Guardianship Order (SGO) families pay for the therapeutic support they need after they’ve adopted a child.
How do I Apply for Funding From the ASF?
If you wish to access funding from the ASF, you must apply for it through the Local Authority or a Regional Adoption Agency.
The Local Authority that placed the child with you is responsible for assessing your adoption needs for the first three years after the adoption order. After that, the responsibility then sits with the Local Authority where you live.
Once they’ve received your application, the Local Authority or Regional Adoption Agency has three months to assess your adoption needs and make an application for financial support from the ASF.
Am I Eligible for the Adoption Support Fund?
To secure funding from the ASF, your adopted child needs to be aged 21 or younger, or 25 or under if they have an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
To be eligible, they should also fit into one or more of the below scenarios:
- They need to have been adopted from Local Authority care in England, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland and live in England.
- If they previously lived abroad, they should live in England with a recognised adoption status.
- They were in care immediately before a Special Guardianship Order (SGO) was made.
- They left care under a Special Guardianship Order which was changed to an adoption order, or vice versa.
- They left care under a Child Arrangement Order (CAO) to enable the assessment of a potential special guardian, while the CAO is in force. They will remain eligible if a SGO was then subsequently made.
How Much Funding can I get From the ASF and what can I Spend it on?
Depending on your Local Authority’s assessment of your adoption needs, the maximum amount of funding you could secure is £5,000 per year for therapy, per child and up to £2,500 per child if a specialist assessment is needed. This is an in-depth, multi-disciplinary assessment, that includes input from specialist medics.
In exceptional circumstances where there is an urgent need, higher support can be applied for but is measured against strict criteria.
You can use ASF money to pay for a special assessment or pay for therapies such as:
- psychotherapy for your child;
- family therapy to improve the relationships between you and your child;
- therapeutic life story work, to help your child come to terms with the trauma they’ve been through;
- creative therapies like art, music, drama classes, or forms of play therapy;
- parent training for special guardians.
What if I Don’t Agree With the Amount of Funding I’ve Received From the ASF?
If you disagree with the amount of funding you’re due to receive from the ASF, you’ll need to appeal the decision with the Local Authority that did the assessment of your adoption needs.
When a Local Authority carries out an assessment, they should tell you the outcome in writing, let you know what to do if you want to appeal their decision and tell you how long you’ve got to appeal it (28 days is the recommended best practice). They won’t be able to submit this application to the ASF until this time period has passed or until you confirm that you’re happy with their decision.
If you need help to appeal your Local Authority’s decision on how much funding you and your child are entitled to, contact our team of Family Law specialists.
They’ll be able to talk through your situation, let you know if you have a good chance of winning the appeal and help you with your case.
For initial legal advice call our Family Law and Divorce Solicitors
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