The government has announced the formal launch of its new support fund for adopted children and their families.
From today, the Adoption Support Fund – intended to give families better access to vital support services, including therapy – will be piloted by 10 councils across England with £2m government funding. A further £19.3m will be provided to roll out the fund nationally.
Children’s minister Edward Timpson said this would “dramatically improve post-adoption support to families across the country”.
Authorities piloting the scheme include Manchester, Newcastle, Solihull, Hampshire, East Sussex and Cornwall.
“We want all adoptive families to know help is there for them and their new child every step of the way. The Adoption Support Fund will help ensure the families in most need are able to access crucial services when they need them,” Timpson said.
Over time, councils, adoption agencies and other organisations will add money to the pot, he added.
The move follows years of campaigning by charities, peers and adoptive families who warned many adoptions were at risk of breaking down due to a postcode lottery in adoption support services, such as family therapy and child mental health services.
Dr Carol Homden CBE, chief executive of the children’s charity Coram, said: “Coram has long recognised how important access to support, such as therapeutic parenting courses and art and music therapy, is in helping adoptive families develop secure and loving attachments and thrive.
“As the Fund is rolled out we look forward to ways of involving Coram’s expertise so that post-adoption support is not only more available and accessible to families, it is also well-evidenced and consistent throughout the country.”
John Simmonds, director of policy and practice at the British Association of Adoption and Fostering, said the support fund was a “welcome step towards improving the lives of adoptive children and their families”.
“BAAF has been working with social workers and a range of other experts to identify how local authorities respond to requests for help and support from adoptive families,” he said. “This work has emphasised how important that first response is – how much adoptive families need to feel listened to, not to feel that they will be blamed, to know they can talk about their experiences in detail and to feel confident that the social worker they are talking to is adoption informed.”
He added: “Adopter and child-centered assessment is a vital part of the implementation of the fund. This framework will continue to be developed in the course of the pilots to ensure it is ready and fit for purpose when the fund is rolled out nationally.”
The new fund is part of a wider package of reforms introduced through the Children and Families Act, including a faster approval process so most adopters are approved within six months, and new rules so prospective adopters and children are placed on the adoption register within three months.