Since April 2016, Special Guardians can apply for the Adoption Support Fund (ASF) if they satisfy the eligibility criteria.

Is my child eligible?

The Adoption Support Fund (ASF) is available to most children being raised under a Special Guardianship Order (SGO). This also includes children up to and including the age of 21, or 25 with an education, health and care (EHC) plan who were either:

  • looked after by the local authority immediately before the SGO was made
  • looked after by the local authority immediately before the SGO was made but subsequently changed to an adoption order, or vice versa
  • looked after by the local authority prior to living under a child arrangement order (CAO) to enable the assessment of a potential special guardian. They remain eligible if an SGO is subsequently made.

How do I apply?

The local authority that places the child with you is responsible for applying to the Adoption Support Fund within 3 months of assessing your family’s needs.

As a first step you need to request an assessment for support.  It is not always clear who you need to request an assessment from. In some local authorities it will be the Adoption and Permanence Team, in other local authorities it will be the Family and Friends Care Designated Officer. If in doubt, you can ask the social worker who worked with you to get the SGO for further information.

Alternatively, you can request a copy of the local authority’s family and friends care policy. This should detail the name and contact details of a senior manager with overall management responsibility for family and friend carers – most local authority family & friend care policies can also be found on line.

The local authority which places the child with you is responsible for assessing your need for support for up to three years.  After that, it becomes the responsibility of the local authority where you live.

What does the ASF fund?

Where the assessment identifies that therapeutic services would be beneficial to your family, the local authority will apply to the Adoption Support Fund (ASF) on your behalf. The local authority social worker will be expected to talk to you about who can provide the types of service that you need and which provider you would prefer.

The funding can be used for the following: 

  • Creative therapies e.g. art, music, drama, play therapy
  • Extensive therapeutic life story work to help the young person understand and cope with their past trauma and difficulties
  • Family therapy to build attachment and improve the relationship between you and your child
  • Psychotherapy (or a talking therapy) for your child
  • Sensory integration therapy/sensory attachment therapy
  • Therapeutic Parenting training aimed at special guardians
  • Therapeutic Short Breaks

The Fund will also fund specialist assessments that result in a therapeutic support plan for your family.  Such assessments must be in-depth, have a focus on trauma and attachment and be led and undertaken by a qualified clinician(s)

Standalone assessments for single conditions, e.g. ADHD, FASD, autism, sensory integration, unless they are part of a wider specialist assessment, are out of scope of the Fund.

The funding being applied for should help your child achieve the following positive outcomes:

  • Improved relationships with friends, family members, teachers and school staff
  • Improved engagement with learning
  • Improved emotional and behaviour management
  • Improved confidence and ability to enjoy a positive family life and social relationships

How much funding is available?

The Fund currently has two fair access limits:

  • Up to £2,500 per child per year for a specialist assessment and
  • Up to £5,000 per child per year for therapy

The majority of applications to the Fund fall within these limits. In exceptional cases, where the funding being asked for is above either limit, the Fund requires your Local Authority (LA) /RAA (meaning) to confirm that it will match-fund any amount over the limit and that one or more of the following apply:

  • there is a high risk of your SGO breaking down without the extra funding or
  • your LA/RAA is dealing with an unusually high number of complex cases that it cannot afford to fund without additional support from the ASF or
  • there is a lack of available, affordable therapeutic support which means higher cost provision is required

How do I appeal if I disagree with the assessment for support needs?

You will not be able to approach the ASF directly. If you disagree with the local authority’s assessment of your needs, you will need to use the local authority’s current appeals procedure. Once the assessment is complete, the local authority should notify you in writing of the outcome and must inform you of the timescales to appeal the decision (28 days is recommended good practice). 

The local authority cannot make a final decision until the timescale has expired or you have informed them that you are satisfied with the proposed decision.

If you have any further questions about the fund, please contact our advice service and our advisers will be happy to help you.