Tag Archives: adoption support fund

Adoption Support Fund feedback chat

Have you accessed the Adoption Support Fund yet? How easy have you found it? Have your social workers been knowledgeable? How long has it taken?

This is the kind of feedback that is needed to improve the way the adoption support fund works, and so next week on Thursday August 6th, 9-10pm, we’ll be hosting a Twitter chat where you’ll be able to share your experiences with Jenny Jones, and hopefully Al Coates and Sally Donovan, all adoptive parents who sit on the expert advisory group that steers the adoption support fund.

We’ll be using our usual #taschat hashtag AND #asffb (Adoption Social Fund Feedback). We need both hashtags used in order to create a round-up of all the chatter and tweets that can be used by Jenny, Al and Sally. Any tweets that don’t include those hashtags, sadly won’t be included as it’s the only way we have of picking out those specific tweets.

We’ll be posing certain questions throughout the hour and we’re looking forward to hearing what you have to say. If you want a reminder of how to take part in a Twitter chat, then check out our tips here.

Otherwise, we look forward to chatting with you next Thursday 9-10pm on Twitter. Don’t forget those hashtags…

Therapeutic Services and the Adoption Support Fund

The Government recently announced that from 1st May 2015, adoptive parents throughout England can benefit from new funding under the Adoption Support Fund (ASF).

£19.3 million worth of extra funding is available to support adoptive families across England to ensure they get access to the best possible care and support.

The goal is to help adopted children recover from previous experiences, bond with their new adoptive families and settle into their new forever homes and they plan to achieve this through the use of free therapeutic services.

Edward Timpson, Minister for Children and Families, said:

“We know that children adopted from care have often lived through terrible experiences which do not just simply disappear once they have settled with their new families.

The Adoption Support Fund will provide adoptive families with the right support – from cognitive therapy to music and play therapy and attachment based therapy – to ensure that these children have a stable and fulfilling childhood – a fundamental right for every child, no matter what their starting point in life”.

It is available to all children adopted from care in England and not just newly adopted children. The ASF will pay for post-adoption-order support for children adopted up to the age of 18 (25-years-old with an SEN statement). It is not applicable to inter-country adoptions.

What Are Therapeutic Services?

The Adoption Support Fund will pay for therapeutic services that are not currently provided including:

  • Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy
  • Therapeutic parenting courses
  • CAMHS assessment
  • Multidisciplinary assessment including education and health
  • Cognitive and neuropsychological assessment
  • Other mental health assessment
  • Psychotherapy
  • Theraplay
  • Filial therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Drama therapy
  • Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Sensory integration therapy
  • Non-violent resistance training

What will the Adoption Support Fund NOT pay for?

  • Support for physical medical conditions
  • Speech and language therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other universal health services.
  • Education support
  • Membership of clubs and organisations
  • Legal support
  • Support provided by private sector and third sector organisations that are not Ofsted regulated unless commissioned through Local Authorities
  • Training of staff
  • Support not delivered in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • Animal, pet or equine therapy
  • Ex- Local authority (associate) social workers

 How Can I Get Therapeutic Services for My Adopted Child?

  • Get in touch with your allocated adoption authority/agency for an assessment of your adoption support needs.
  • The local authority that placed the child with you is responsible for assessing your adoption support needs for three years after the adoption, and then it becomes the responsibility of the local authority where you live.
  • The adoption agency will then submit your application for funding before an Adoption Order.
  • They will then consider if therapeutic support is needed as well as the type required and if it is eligible for payments from the fund.
  • The Adoption Team will then seek the support that is available and apply directly to the Adoption Support Fund on your behalf.
  • If funding is approved, the Adoption Support Fund then transfers the funds so we can purchase your support.

How Effective Are Therapeutic Services?

There is limited hard evidence on the effectiveness of different therapeutic approaches. But therapy in general has been found to relieve aspects of distress and ensure the wellbeing of children.

Findings published in 2011  ‘An Effective Way of Promoting Children’s Wellbeing and Alleviating Emotional, Behavioural and Mental Health Problems – revealed that between 74% and 83% of children receiving play therapy showed a positive change.

We can expect however a research report to be completed in June 2015 by Durham and Bristol Universities. The NSPCC-funded study, which commenced in April 2013, will evaluate the effectiveness of therapy service for children affected by sexual abuse.

This article was provided by Lancashire-based, Blackpool Council Adoption Support Team.
We provide a wealth of experience, knowledge and support for the North West. The new Adoption Support Fund will be a great opportunity for many adoptive families and we aim to help you access such specialist services.

The Adoption Social have previously published a number of posts about the Adoption Support Fund, including our recent response from Edward Timpson MP which you can find here.

Other related posts include:
The Adoption Support Fund
Launching the Adoption Support Fund Prototype
Helping our children at school – a breakthrough in support from Local Authority
Taking Action with #MeetTheMinister
#MeetTheMinister round-up

And we’re pleased to announce that on 6th August we’ll be hosting another Twitter chat to enable you to feedback your thoughts and experiences of the Adoption Support Fund to some of those who sit on the Expert Advisory Group who can in turn, use your experiences to improve the Adoption Support Fund and it’s access. More info coming soon.

Edward Timpson response to #WASO contributors

Do you remember back in November 2014, yes over six months ago so a lot has happened since, that we ran a #WASO special about National Adoption Week? During that time Edward Timpson MP released a letter addressed to adoptive parents too.

Well, some of you were disgruntled about not receiving a copy of the letter. Some of you were unhappy with the contents of the letter. Some of you felt that National Adoption Week didn’t address the needs of existing adoptive families and focussed purely on recruitment. And there were a whole load of other issues and queries that were raised. So we ran a #WASO special and invited you to write a post, link up and we forwarded those posts onto Edward Timpson MP for his response.

Last week, we got a response. We’ll try not to hold the delay, and the numerous follow-ups against Mr Timpson, after all, he’s a busy man and there’s been a change of government in the last little while too, but here’s his response:

Dear Vicki,

Thank you for your email of 9 June, on behalf of contributors to The Adoption Social, about the issues faced by adoptive parents, adoptees and local professionals.

Please pass on my thanks to your contributors for their views about the adoption system. I cannot comment directly on the experiences that have been describedas these are matters for local authorities and adoption agencies. I would, however, like to respond to some of the key themes that have emerged from the range of views expressed.

Some of your contributors have mentioned the open letter that I wrote to all adoptive parents last year as part of National Adoption Week (NAW), and have expressed disappointment that I did not address the concerns of adopters in the real world. I was sorry to read that your community feels this way. My letter was a genuine attempt to express my personal recognition of the commitment made by individual adopters to improve the lives of children, many of whom have had a difficult start to their life. However, I do recognise the discrepancies between policies and practice. Officials from the department work closely with adopters to understand more about their experiences of adoption support, and unfortunately we often hear about people struggling to access the support they need.

I was sorry to read that some of your contributors had not been sent a copy of my letter or were unaware of it. It is always difficult to reach out to all adopters when there is no centralised list of adoptive parents. The department’s social media team worked hard to publicise the letter, and it reached some 160,000 accounts. In addition, all local authorities and voluntary adoption agencies were sent the letter in advance of it being published and were asked to forward it to all their adoptive parents. I am disappointed that in some cases this did not happen. Your contributors may wish to ask their particular agency why they did not receive a copy. My letter is still available to view online at:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/adoption-reform-letter-from-edward-timpson

Your contributors may find it helpful if I explain more about NAW. It was established by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) in 1997, and is run by them on behalf of the sector. This year, NAW will take place between 19 and 25 October. I understand from BAAF that the theme will be older adopted children. If your contributors would like to know more, please contact BAAF at:

www.baaf.org.uk/info/advice

Some contributors felt that the six-month timescale to consider and approve applications to become adoptive parents did not give them enough time to prepare for the realities of adoption. The two-stage adopter approval process was introduced in 2013 to make it more efficient for prospective adopters to be considered and approved. I can understand that this might be too quick for some people, and that they may want more time during the process to consider whether adoption is the right option for them. Adopters in this position can slow down the assessment process or take a break of up to six months between stages one and two to allow them to reflect on whether they wish to proceed with their application or require more time to think through the issues raised by the assessment.

I read a number of comments associated with adoption support and the availability of help to prevent the breakdown of adoptions. Research published in 2014 with funding from the department shows that many adoptive families struggle to obtain the support they need, particularly in terms of therapeutic services. They also find it difficult to access a nuanced, sensitive consultation by an expert in adoption support. The research demonstrates that there is a high need for more specialist support and intensive services for many adoptive families. It is available at:

www.adoptionuk.org/sites/default/files/articles/BeyondAdoptionDfEreport.pdf

For these reasons, the government has made reforms to the adoption system a high priority. A key part of reforming help for adopters is the Adoption Support Fund (ASF). This is playing a significant role in reshaping the provision and availability of local support. It allows local authorities to assess individual support needs and apply for funding without the current financial barriers that often prevent them from offering these services.

Some contributors have questioned how the ASF works. The model is based on the existing statutory framework for the assessment of adoption support needs and the provision of support services. The adoptive family or an eligible individual will discuss the issues they are experiencing and explore the most effective form of help with the assessing social worker, based on the needs of the child. When these discussions have been concluded, and the local authority and individual assessed have determined that therapeutic adoption support of the type that qualifies for payments from the ASF is required, the local authority can apply to the ASF. At this point, there will also be a discussion on who may provide that service, dependent on the availability of providers in the area. The local authority will make an application directly to the ASF on behalf of the parent, with no need for the parent to get involved in the process.

When it receives an application, the ASF will ensure that the services required meet its eligibility criteria, and process payment back to the local authority. This means that the process of securing resources from the ASF should be quick and straightforward for adoptive families.

I appreciate the views that your contributors have expressed about the important role that schools play in supporting adopted children, and in particular the need for staff to be effectively trained on the range of issues associated with adoption, including attachment and therapeutic support. Since 2014, schools have been able to claim the pupil premium plus for children who have been adopted from care or who have left care under a Special Guardianship Order. The pupil premium plus, worth £1,900 per child per financial year, is additional funding for schools to help meet the needs of these children.

I understand the concern expressed by some adoptive parents that the pupil premium plus is not allocated to the needs of each pupil. The reason why this funding is not ring-fenced for the individual child is twofold. First, we consider schools to be best-placed to determine how to use the additional funding for maximum impact. Schools could decide to provide training for their staff or to provide tailored support for an adopted child that exceeds the value of the individual premium. Alternatively, a school could decide that a whole class intervention is appropriate. Secondly, the number of eligible children at each school is recorded by the January School Census, and this triggers the payment of the pupil premium to the school for the coming financial year starting in April. Some eligible children will leave the school during the year and others will join.
The flexibility that schools have enables them to ensure that they can support all disadvantaged pupils, and not just those on the school roll in January.

I would like to assure your contributors that it is not our intention that pupil premium funding is used to back fill the general school budget or to support other groups of pupils, such as those with special educational needs or those who are low-attaining. Schools are accountable to Ofsted on how they have used the funding to benefit eligible children. Ofsted will look at the impact the school has made with the pupil premium to close the attainment gap. Schools are also required to publish how they have used the pupil premium for the benefit of disadvantaged pupils on their website each year.

As your contributors may be aware, this is the first year that adopted children have attracted the pupil premium. To help schools and adoptive parents, the department recently published some case studies on emerging good practice in using the pupil premium during the first year of implementation. These can be found at:

www.first4adoption.org.uk/beinq-an-adoptive-parent/adoption-support/pupil-premium/case-studies

I am conscious that prospective adopters often report difficulties with having the seriousness of their child’s problems recognised. I know that in some cases it is adopters themselves who have to educate health professionals about their child’s needs. I would like to assure your contributors that ensuring adopted children receive appropriate and timely Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services support remains a key priority for the government. In 2013, we included the need to plan and commission integrated services for adopted children in the government’s mandate letter to the NHS Commissioning Board, in statutory guidance on Joint Strategic Needs Assessments, and in joint health and wellbeing strategies. We also commissioned the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to develop clinical guidance on attachment.

An important opportunity to make further progress in this area is the government’s children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing taskforce. This is considering how to improve the way children’s mental health services are organised, commissioned and provided and how to make it easier for young people to access help and support, including through schools, voluntary organisations and online. The taskforce has set up a task and finish group for vulnerable children, which will be looking at the specific concerns of adopted parents. Further information can be found at:

www.gov.uk/government/groups/children-and-younq-peoples-mental-health-and-welI-being-taskforce

I agree with your contributors that there should be a well-trained workforce for social work. The government supported training on adoption support that was delivered by BAAF to social workers across the country over the second half of last year. This included the views of adopters on adoption support, which in many cases echoed the experiences described on your website. It is important that social workers are aware of these views. The BAAF training has helped them to confidently identity and assess the needs of individual adoptive families. The government also worked with the College of Social Work and Research in Practice to develop a curriculum guide, a range of new training materials and other tools to focus on adoption support. We have been working to support and challenge with social workers to help them speed up the matching process by avoiding unnecessary delays associated with searching for what they might consider to be a ‘perfect match’.

Finally, your contributors may also wish to know that as part of the voluntary and community sector grant programme, in 2015-16 the department will be funding Adoption UK to work to improve the adopter voice across the adoption system. This work will seek to empower adoptive parents to engage with agencies on range of issues, including their experience of matching. The views and experiences of adopters are at the heart of my personal commitment to adoption, and will help determine what more the government needs to do in the future.

Kindest Regards,

Edward Timpson MP
Minister of State for Children and Families

What do think of Mr Timpson’s response? Has he adequately addressed your concerns? Do you need more answers?
Edward Timpson also recently ran a web chat, which was written about for us by Permanently in a Pickle, and Gareth Marr has been working on #MeettheMinister too.

The Adoption Support Fund

ASF

Today Sarah from The Puffin Diaries introduces the new Adoption Support Fund,tells you how you go about accessing it and gives you her initial thought.

So have you heard about the Adoption Support Fund (ASF)?

From May this year, 2015, adopters will be able to access government funding for post adoption support services, a pot of money reported to be £19.3 million when the ASF was first launched in September 2013. In the press release on the DfE website this fund is described by the Prime Minister as,

“a lifeline for many adoptive families, helping them to access specialist services when their family needs them most.”

And Edward Timpson, Minister for Children and Families, highlighted the governments understanding of the need for this fund when saying:

“We know that children adopted from care have often lived through terrible experiences which do not just simply disappear once they have settled with their new families.”

So how do YOU go about accessing this funding?

You need to speak to either your local authority, or your placing authority. The authority from which your child/children originated are responsible for providing this services in the first three years of the adoption, after that your local authority takes on the responsibility.

You need to request an assessment of your families’ adoption support needs.

Providing this assessment for you is a legal obligation of all local authorities, so they can NOT refuse to carry out the assessment. However this does NOT mean that you will necessarily be eligible for funding.

Here you can download the BAAF Guidance for the Assessment Framework for Adoption Support. This lengthy document details how your needs will be assessed.

Your social worker is able to start these assessments now, so make your phone call or send that email, NOW.

If, once your assessment is complete, you are recognised to be in need of additional support, your social worker will apply, on your behalf, for funding. Your social worker will also be responsible for discussing with you where the support you require may be accessed.

More information on what type of support is available and NOT available, and also who is able to supply your support, can be found HERE

Also Hugh Thornbery CEO of @AdoptionUK, Chair of the #AdoptionSupportFund is on twitter as @TalkAdoptSupp and invites your questions and shared experiences of the Adoption support Fund. So if you have queries this is a good place to direct them.

So what do I Think About the ASF?

We are, Sarah from The Puffin Diaries and family, about to embark on our own assessment, commencing this week. I will aim to keep everyone up to date on how things progress and share our experience of the process.

Personally, right now, I have mixed feelings about the funding and the assessment. On one side,  I am relieved that we may finally be able to access some much needed support for our family. However another part of my brain is sceptical, as we have been in this position before, needing support, and what we’ve been offered has been completely inadequate. I fear that insufficient funding will be allocated to really make the difference or we will not be deemed eligible for any funding at all.

The bigger picture is that this pot is surely not big enough to help all those families out there in need and there is no firm commitment, at the moment to provide further funding once this amount is spent. I posed this question to @TalkADoptSupp earlier.

 

 

So with that thought in mind, I urge anyone out there who feels they need some additional adoption support, to ask for an assessment NOW. Firstly because this money is here now and might not be here later and secondly, the best way to show the government the enormity of this demand is to make our needs known.

It will be interesting to see how many families request an assessment, then just how much funding is applied for and also just how much is actually allocated.

Launching the Adoption Support Fund Prototype

Today Sally Donovan updates us on the new Adoption Support Funding and the structure for the prototype being rolled out. 

SallyDYesterday I travelled from where I live in the middle of provincial England, to the Coram Foundation in London to attend the launch of the prototype of the Adoption Support Fund, alongside representatives from the ten participating Local Authorities, civil servants from DfE and representatives from other adoption organisations and charities.

Edward Timpson MP, Minister for Children and Families gave a speech in which he said that adoption support is an essential part of adoption and he wanted it to become the norm rather than the exception.

There were presentations from one LA (Cornwall) about how they will operate their prototype and from East Sussex who have set up a joint social services and CAMHS team.  It was clear that a great amount of time, thought, team effort and pragmatism has been invested in both schemes.  At the end of the day I returned home to the adoption support desert in which I live and dreamt about re-locating to East Sussex.

I attended the launch because I sit on the Expert Advisory Group which was established by the Department for Education and which is responsible for steering the Adoption Support Fund in the right direction.  The group is jointly chaired by DfE and Adoption UK and includes representatives from charities, local authorities and mental health.

 For many, the Adoption Support Fund offers the first glimmer of hope that real improvements will be experienced by real adoptive families, no matter where they live in England (adoption is a devolved issue). 

In many ways, living in a metaphorical desert has helped inform my participation in the development of the fund.  It means I can test proposals against a current poverty of services, which is important, because we don’t all live in East Sussex and because it’s easy to get carried along on a happy wave of success stories assuming they represent situation normal.

The ins and outs of the fund such as how to apply to it and the sorts of therapeutic support it will cover are addressed on the newly created website http://www.adoptionsupportfund.co.uk/   It’s important to stress that what was launched yesterday is a prototype, which means there will be glitches.

If you live in one of the ten prototype local authorities (Manchester, Newcastle, North Yorkshire, Solihull, Leicester, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Cornwall, East Sussex and Lewisham) then you can now approach your LA for an assessment.  (Annoyingly the three year rule still applies.)

If you think your family has a therapeutic need then I urge you to contact your LA and ask for an assessment. 

Those who are responsible for managing the prototypes might not thank me for encouraging applications but to my mind we need to demonstrate a demand for the scheme and the prototype must be stretched and tugged at a bit to ensure it is fit for national roll out in May of next year.

If you approach your LA to access money from the fund you will, as part of the prototype, be asked for your feedback.  If there is anything you think should be fed back directly to the Expert Advisory Group then please tweet me @sallydwrites or send me a message on Facebook (Sally Donovan).  My participation in the EAG is entirely voluntary and takes place around other commitments so please forgive me if I don’t always reply very efficiently, but I will do my best.  The Department for Education is keen to hear about the good and the bad experiences, so if there’s something you think could inform and improve the scheme, don’t hold back.

This could well be the best chance there has ever been to make wholesale improvement to support for adoptive families in England.  In Scotland and Wales the campaigns must continue.