Across the 10 pilot areas, there were marked differences in the level of spending for each family. Gloucestershire County Council spent £369,333 to support 27 families, which equates to £13,679 per family. In contrast, Cornwall County Council spent £3,181 on support for 23 families, while in Lewisham, seven families were helped at a cost of just £1,013 each. Hampshire County Council supported 20 families at a total cost of £122,440, which equates to £5,622 per family.
The Adoption Support Fund pilots began offering support last summer ahead of a national roll-out this May. Children’s minister Edward Timpson said: “It’s encouraging that after just eight months, more than 160 adoptive families have been given the help and support they need to bond with their families and settle into their new lives. “Adopters across the country who could benefit from therapeutic services should now be asking their local authority to apply to the fund so that they too can benefit from this essential support.”
The announcement was welcomed by adoption campaigners, although some said more funding will be needed to ensure all families that need the support can access it. Hugh Thornbury, chief executive of Adoption UK, said: “We wouldn’t expect every adopted family to have the need to access the Adoption Support Fund. Latest research shows that around a third will be fine, a third will have times when additional support is needed and around a third will have more difficulties and need that support. “I don’t think the money we have secured necessarily will be the level of resource that is required and we are still in the developmental phase. “We think it could be enough for next year because it may take some councils time to get it going and we won’t know the level of demand, but our own calculations would come to a higher figure needed.”
Andy Elvin, chief executive of adoption charity TACT, said it was possible for councils to get good value from the fund by targeting spending at the start of a placement to tackle problems at an early stage. He believes the government should also be looking to fund support for those returning to their birth family as well as those in long-term fostering. “We welcome the fund as an important step forward in recognising the ongoing support needs of adoptive families,” he said. “However, we believe the incoming government should look again at post-permanency support and institute a fund that supports children whatever their permanency option, be it adoption, fostering, residential care, special guardianship or with their birth family.”
Article composed by: Joe Lepper