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8.5 Adoption Support

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

Adoption Passport: A Support Guide for Adopters (First4Adoption)

Adoption: Statutory Guidance 2013

Adoption: National Minimum Standards

Adoption Support Fund (DfE)

See also Forms/Signs of Safety Practice Guidance.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in March 2016 to include links to Adoption Statutory Guidance 2013 and the Adoption Support Fund in the Relevant Guidance section.


Contents

  1. What is Adoption Support?
  2. Duty to Provide Information Concerning Adoption Support
  3. Post Adoption Support Team
  4. Examples of Adoption Support
  5. When to Assess the Need for Adoption Support
  6. Which Local Authority Should Carry out the Assessment?
  7. Which Local Authority Should Provide the Support?
  8. Process of Assessment for Adoption Support 
  9. The Adoption Support Plan
  10. Financial Support


1. What is Adoption Support?

The provision of a range of adoption support services by the local authority and it partners is a crucial element of the statutory framework. This is based on the recognition that adoptive children and their families are likely to require support at different stages of parenting.

Adoption Support includes any support likely to be required for an adoptive placement to endure through to adulthood and is applicable to existing and new situations both pre and post Adoption Order and will be formulated through an Adoption Support Plan.


2. Duty to Provide Information Concerning Adoption Support

Under the Adoption and Children Act 2002 (as amended by the Children and Families Act 2014), the local authority has a duty to provide information on adoption support services to:

  • Anyone contacting the authority to request information about adopting a child;
  • Anyone informing the authority that (s)he wishes to adopt a child;
  • Any parent of an adopted child within the authority's area who requests the information;
  • Any parent of an adopted child within the authority's area of whom the authority is/becomes aware (e.g. where a parent rings about an SEN assessment and it becomes clear that the child is adopted).

Information must be provided about:

  • The full range of adoption support services available in the local authority area. This includes, but is not limited to, therapeutic services, assistance in relation to contact arrangements, and financial support;
  • The right to request an assessment for adoption support services (at any time);
  • The address and telephone number of the authority's Adoption Support Services Adviser;
  • The availability of assessments for adoption support services for persons outside the local authority area, so that parents understand which local authority is responsible for assessing their support needs;
  • Contact details for first4adoption and the local the web-based information service which provides information about adoption;
  • Priority school admissions (where relevant). Details can be found at Gov.uk website;
  • Priority council housing and Discretionary Housing Payments;
  • The entitlement to early education from the age of two: the pupil premium payment;
  • How to make a complaint, both under the local authority complaints procedure and to the Local Government Ombudsman;
  • Any other relevant services provided by the local authority;
  • Any other information that the local authority considers relevant.

The following information must also be provided to potential and prospective adopters:

  • Details of where to find information about adoption pay and leave. Details can be found on the Gov.uk website;
  • Information about the right to receive a copy of the child's permanence report, including a summary of the medical adviser's report on the health of the child, before the child is placed with them for adoption;
  • The entitlement to a life story book. This should include who provides the life story book, what it includes and what it can be used for.

When a person requests information about a specific service, the local authority must ask whether they would like any of the other information as well.

Information does not need to be provided where:

  • The local authority has provided all the necessary information in the last 12 months and none of the information has changed substantively;
  • A person has informed the local authority that they do not wish to receive the information (unless the authority considers it appropriate to do so);
  • Where the information has already been sent, e.g. where the same person requests the information a number of times in a short period.

If the local authority refuses a person's request for information, it should give reasons for the refusal and signpost the person to the website that holds the information.

Click here to see Table 1: People to Whom Adoption Support Services Must be Extended.


3. Post Adoption Support Team

The Post Adoption Support Team is a multi-disciplinary team who work with adopted children and their families post Adoption Order. 

The team includes social workers, child psychotherapists, clinical psychologists, family therapists and a music therapist. They understand that children who have been adopted from the care system can have additional emotional, social and developmental needs and need support and understanding to overcome previous adversity.

The team works with adopted children, their siblings and parents through the provision of a range of interventions dependent on need their need and  can include:

  • Individual therapy;
  • Group programmes for parents and children;
  • Parenting and learning and development programmes;
  • Sibling, parent or family work;
  • Work with child and parent/s together.

The post adoption support team works closely with the allocated social worker when a child is in need, subject to a protection plan or looked after.

The Post Adoption Support Team can also help with referrals to other service providers such as CAHMS. Where a service is provided by another agency the Adoption Support Team will see that this is underpinned by a written agreement and  regularly reviewed in line with minimum standards.

Kent County Council commissions a further Adoption Support service from Barnardo’s (CAFIS) which provides:

  1. Independent support for birth parents, from the point the adoption plan is made for a child;
  2. Access to birth records and Intermediary service for adult adoptees;
  3. Access to information and  Intermediary services for birth relatives(where the adoptee is now an adult);
  4. Letterbox and face to face contact arrangements in post adoption and special guardianship cases.
See Placement for Adoption Procedure, Counselling and Support for Parents for information regarding service A, and Post-placement Contact for information about service D.


4. Examples of Adoption Support

See also The Adoption Passport: A Support Guide for Adopters (First4Adoption).

Adoption support includes:

Financial advice to adopters, signposting them to how to claim benefits that they may be entitled to such as child tax credits, DLA etc:

  1. Priority admission for school places, including academies and free schools;
  2. Services to enable groups of adoptive children, adoptive parents and birth parents to discuss matters relating to adoption;
  3. Assistance, including mediation, with contact arrangements between adopted children and their birth parents or others with whom they share a significant relationship;
  4. Therapeutic services for adopted children;
  5. Learning and Development groups for adoptive parents;
  6. Annual fun events for adopted children and their parents;
  7. Support groups for older adopted children;
  8. Assistance to adoptive parents and children to support the adoptive placement and enable it to continue, including respite care;
  9. Assistance to adoptive parents and children where a placement disrupts or is at risk of disruption;
  10. A range of adoption support services, including access to counselling, information and advice for both adoptive parents and their children, who may have complex needs;
  11. Assistance with cross boundary matters;
  12. Intermediary Services - see Intermediary Services Procedure.


5.  When to Assess the Need for Adoption Support

5.1 In relation to adoptions arranged by the agency, practitioners must consider the need for adoption support when considering and preparing the Adoption Placement Report including the Adoption Support Plan for presentation to the Adoption Panel in relation to the proposed placement of a child with particular prospective adopters.
5.2

In relation to placements arranged by the agency, adoption support must also always be considered at a child's Adoption Reviews following the adoptive placement.

See Adoption Reviews Procedure.

5.3

Local authorities must also undertake assessments of need for adoption support at the request of the following:

  1. Children who may be adopted, their parents or guardians;
  2. Persons wishing to adopt a child;
  3. Adopted persons, their parents, birth parents and former guardians;
  4. Other children of adoptive parents (whether or not they are adopted);
  5. Birth siblings of adopted children;
  6. Relatives of the adopted child or other persons with whom the child has a beneficial relationship.

The requirement to assess the need for support is limited to the entitlement to services of the person making the request.

As well as adoptions arranged by the local authority, children adopted from abroad are entitled to be assessed for therapeutic services and disruption support. It is only where the adoption is a non agency adoption such as one by a step parent that there is no requirement to carry out an assessment, although in such cases, counselling, advice and information may be offered as appropriate.


6. Which Local Authority Should Carry out the Assessment?

The table below sets out which local authority has responsibility for carrying out the assessment of need for adoption support, and in what circumstances.

Circumstance Responsibility for Assessment
Child being Looked After and in respect of whom an adoption plan is being considered. The local authority looking after the child.
Child placed with or adopted by family living in the area of the local authority arranging the adoption. The local authority for the area where the child and adopters live.
Child placed with and/or adopted by family living outside the local authority area. The placing local authority has responsibility at the time of the placement and for up to 3 years after the Adoption Order is made, and then the local authority where the adopters live will have the responsibility.
In all other cases (i.e. non agency placements except step parent adoptions). The local authority where the requester lives must assess.


7. Which Local Authority Should Provide Support?

The local authority responsible for carrying out the assessment of need should provide support to meet the identified needs.

The exception to this is where on-going financial support and/or supporting contact arrangements have been agreed by the placing authority before the Adoption Order was made, in which case the responsibility to provide such support will remain with that authority for as long as eligibility for the service continues.


8. Process of Assessment for Adoption Support

In all cases where an assessment is required, the practitioners involved should conduct assessments by following the guidance set out in Working Together to Safeguard Children. The assessment should take account of the adoption context and, where the assessment relates to the child, all the developmental needs of the child should be covered including health, education and emotional needs, and contact issues. The relevant education service and health trust should be consulted as necessary.

Assessments of need for adoption support should be carried out by the child's social worker and/or the prospective adopters' social worker as appropriate prior to being presented to the Adoption Panel. The assessment at the time of the child's proposed placement with prospective adopters should be considered at the Matching Meeting and also have the approval of the Designated Manager prior to being presented to the Adoption Panel with the Adoption Placement Report. At all stages, the Adoption Panel must consider and may give advice on the proposed adoption support and this advice will be considered by the Agency Decision Maker, before making a final decision on the contents of the Adoption Support Plan - see Placement for Adoption Procedure.

Any assessment (under Paragraph 5.2) considered necessary at an Adoption Review, as a result of which a change in the Adoption Support Plan is required, should be referred to the Designated Manager for approval who will consider whether the case should be referred back to the Adoption Panel and the Agency Decision Maker.

Requests for assessment for adoption support under Paragraph 5.3 above will be allocated to a social worker to carry out an assessment, with advice from the Adoption Support Services Adviser as necessary. The assessing social worker will usually need to interview the person being assessed - where this is a child, the adoptive parents will also need to be interviewed depending on the case and the age, understanding and wishes of the child.

An assessment will not be required before providing advice and information.

Where an assessment is carried out as a result of a request under Paragraph 5.3, a written report of the assessment should be produced and agreed by the Designated Manager.

A copy of the assessment report, once approved, should be sent to the person assessed with notice of the outcome of the assessment, which should state:

  1. The person's assessed needs for support;
  2. Whether the local authority proposes to provide adoption support services and if so, what the proposed services are;
  3. Where the assessment relates to the need for financial support, how this has been determined and calculated and the conditions to be attached, (see Section 10, Financial Support).

Where the person assessed is a child, and it is not appropriate to send the notice to the child, notices should be sent to the adoptive parent or the most appropriate adult.

Where services are proposed, a draft Adoption Support Plan should usually be attached to the notice and those assessed should be allowed time to consider and make representations on the proposal as set out in Section 9, The Adoption Support Plan.

Where the service proposed is one-off, the notice of the outcome of the assessment will be sufficient to outline what is proposed and a draft plan will not be required.


9. The Adoption Support Plan

9.1 Contents of Adoption Support Plan

An Adoption Support Plan should set out clearly:

  1. The objectives of the plan and the key services to be provided;
  2. The timescales for achieving the plan;
  3. Those responsible for implementing the plan and the respective roles of others; what should be provided, when and by whom;
  4. The criteria that will be used to evaluate the success of the plan;
  5. The procedures that will be put in place to review the services to be provided and the plan.

The Adoption Support Plan will need to be completed after consultation with the appropriate Health Trust, CAMHS or education service where any special arrangements may need to be made. Where the child is placed in the area of another local authority, the agencies in that authority's area will need to be consulted as to what services may be available for the adopters and the adopted children. In these circumstances, the prospective adopters should be assisted with any cross-boundary issues that may arise.

The Adoption Support Plan should include any proposed financial support, how the amount has been calculated, where it is to be paid in instalments - the frequency of payment, the period over which it will be paid and when the first payment is to be made, the conditions and the consequences of failing to meet them and the arrangements for review, variation and termination, (see Section 10, Financial Support).

9.2 Consultation with Proposed Recipients of Adoption Support

Once a proposed Adoption Support Plan has the approval of the Designated Manager, a copy should be sent to the proposed recipients of the support, as well as to any party involved in the delivery of the plan.

The recipients of the proposed support should be given 10 working days to consider the proposals and make representations to the local authority about the proposed plan. Any representations made should be considered by the Designated Manager, who will amend the draft plan as appropriate and inform the recipients of the outcome of his or her consideration.

9.3 Approval of Adoption Support Plan

In relation to proposed agency adoptive placements, the proposed Adoption Support Plan will be submitted to the Adoption Panel when the proposed placement of a child with particular prospective adopters is recommended. The final Adoption Support Plan will be approved by the Designated Manager (for financial support in adoption see Section 10, Financial Support), taking into account any advice given by the Adoption Panel. See Placement for Adoption Procedure.

In relation to other situations in which adoption support is proposed, the Adoption Support Plan will be approved by the Designated Manager.

9.4 Distribution of Adoption Support Plan

A copy of the final plan should go to all those involved in implementing it, and to the recipients of services (or appropriate adult). Where the child has an Independent Reviewing Officer, a copy should be sent to him or her.

9.5 Reviews of Adoption Support Plan

Where adoption support is in place prior to an Adoption Order, the Adoption Support Plan should be reviewed at the reviews of the adoptive placement - see Adoption Reviews Procedure - or at any time if there is a significant change of circumstances, within four weeks of the notification of the change.

After the Adoption Order has been made, the Adoption Support Plan will be reviewed if a change in circumstances is brought to the notice of the local authority. The Adoption Service Manager will decide on the format and content of any such review, which will depend on the circumstances of the case. It may refer to only one element of the Plan or be relatively minor in which case an exchange of correspondence may be sufficient.

Where the change of circumstances is substantial, such as a serious change in the behaviour of the child, it may be appropriate to conduct a new assessment of needs involving other parties.

Once approved, the person concerned must be notified of the proposed change, together with a copy of the revised Adoption Support Plan in draft. He or she must then be given 10 working days to make representations on the proposals.

Any such representations should be submitted to the Designated Manager whose decision as to the final contents of the revised Adoption Support Plan should take into account any representations made.

Notice of the decision must then be sent to the person concerned with reasons and, where appropriate, a copy of the revised plan.

9.6 Urgent Cases

Where there is an urgent need for support, the support can be provided before a Plan is drawn up but the above procedure should then be followed as soon as possible.


10. Financial Support

See Adoption Order, Special Guardianship Order and Child Arrangements Order Allowances Procedure.

End