Adoptive families in England are to benefit from a new post-adoption support fund, the Department for Education announced today.
The Adoption Support Fund has been created to help children bond with their adoptive families by funding specialist therapeutic services, including play therapy and intensive family support. It follows widespread criticism from peers, campaigners and adopters about the ‘postcode lottery’ of post-adoption support.
Ahead of the fund’s national launch in April 2015, the government has set aside £19.5m to trial it in several local authority areas. The trials are due to start in a few months, although the government is still finalising which local authorities will be involved.
Prime minister David Cameron said the new Adoption Support Fund would be a “lifeline for many adoptive families’, helping them to access specialist support services when their family needs them most.
“I also hope it will reassure parents thinking about embarking on the hugely rewarding journey of adoption, that if challenges do arise they will no longer be left alone to cope,” Cameron said today.
Insurance-type fund and pooled budgets
A DfE spokesperson said it is likely adoptive parents will be able to seek help from the fund themselves, although this is something the trials will test.
The government also envisages an insurance-type model for the fund where central government, councils and adoption agencies pay money in that could be called on by parents, according to need. It is hoped this pooling of budgets will give therapeutic services providers more confidence and encourage them to expand their offer.
The trials will examine how to make the fund accessible to adoptive families and how to encourage local authorities to pay money into the fund.
Hugh Thornbery, chief executive of Adoption UK, said: “We anticipate that the fund will be hugely valuable in recruiting more adopters for all those children still waiting to be placed with the right family.”
Sue Kent, professional officer at the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), said the extra support was good news for adoptive families, but accused the government of “shying away” from a proper discussion of adoption breakdown. She said BASW estimates that one in five adoptions currently break down.
She continued: “We have reservations about the current political enthusiasm for adoption, it can be life changing for some children but it is not suitable for all children.
“A sole focus on adoption takes a very simplistic view of the care system which involves fostering, residential care and kinship care. We want to see greater investment in the system as a whole, for all children, not just a small part of it.”
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