Children cared for by Special Guardians may well have experienced serious difficulties that led to their placement and they might need additional help and support so that they can thrive.
The Adoption Support Fund is available to those Special Guardians living in England who obtained a Special Guardianship Order (SGO) for a child aged 21 and younger (or 25 and younger if they have a Statement of Special Educational Needs or an Education, Health and Care Plan) who was looked after immediately before the SGO was granted.
Am I eligible?
If you can answer yes to all these questions then you are eligible to be assessed for therapeutic services paid for by the Adoption Support Fund.
- The child I have an SGO for was in the care system immediately before I obtained the SGO and
- The child I have an SGO for is struggling to cope and needs support and/or my household needs support to help the child I have an SGO for and
- The child I care for is 21 or younger or is 25 and has a Statement of Special Educational Needs or an Education, Health and Care Plan.
How can I get it?
You will need to have an assessment of your family’s support needs by the local authority. See our FAQ on how to get an assessment.
Where the assessment identifies that the therapeutic services funded by the Adoption Support Fund would be beneficial to your family, the local authority will apply to the Fund on your behalf, who will then release funding to the local authority which uses the fund to commission and pay the agreed provider of services. For the remainder of this financial year, a fair access limit of £5,000 per child has been introduced. Further information about this can be found here.
The local authority social worker is expected to talk to you about who can provide the types of service that you need and which provider you would prefer.
What services are funded by the Adoption Support Fund?
- 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
To achieve these outcomes the Fund will pay for therapeutic support and services including but not restricted to those listed below. Some of the services may be provided through the NHS, some by the local authority and others by independent providers. The exact range of services available will vary for each local authority, depending upon which services are available locally that meet relevant quality standards.
- Parenting training – evidence based parenting courses adapted to meet the needs of Adopters or Special Guardians
- Further more complex assessment of need (e.g. CAMHS assessment, multidisciplinary assessment including education and health, cognitive and neuropsychological assessment, other mental health needs assessment.)
- Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy.
- Theraplay – a child and family therapy to build attachment and the parent-child relationship based on directed play and activities.
- Filial therapy – very similar to Theraplay and always involving the parent/carer.
- Creative therapies e.g. art, music, drama, play. Music therapy and Art therapy can help children from complex and traumatic backgrounds in a range of ways. It can help to increase concentration and attention skills, improve family and social relationships and increase a child’s confidence.
- Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR). A psychological treatment method which stimulates the brain to reduce the intensity of distressing memories.
- Non-Violent Resistance (NVR). A psychological approach for overcoming destructive, aggressive, controlling and risk-taking behaviour.
- Sensory integration therapy/sensory attachment therapy aims to help the child re-organise or re-process sensory information in order to regulate emotional responses. Individual sensory integration therapy is provided as direct one-to-one therapy, following a specialist assessment by an Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist or Speech and Language Therapist with postgraduate training in sensory integration.
- Multi Systemic Therapy (MST) - involves working closely with families, providing intensive therapy that focuses on problem solving. It aims to give parents problem-solving skills to deal with their issues. Families receive 24-hour support from a therapist, and a range of agencies work in partnership to support them over a three to five month period.
- Psychotherapy – by a qualified and registered psychotherapist
- Specialist clinical assessments where required to identify therapeutic needs
- Extensive life story work with a therapeutic intervention (where therapy is used to help the young person understand and cope with the trauma and difficulties that their life story work might revisit)
- Respite care (where it is part of a therapeutic intervention)
What will the Adoption Support Fund not pay for?
Local authorities should already be providing the following services for Special Guardians. They are also required to plan the provision of special guardianship support services taking into account the similar services already provided for adopters. See: The Special Guardianship (Amendment) Regulations 2016
- financial support
- services to enable groups of children who are the subject of a special guardianship order or for whom it is being formally considered, special guardians or prospective special guardians, and parents of the child to discuss matters relating to special guardianship
- assistance, including mediation services, in relation to contact between the child and their parents or relatives or any other person with whom the child has a relationship that the local authority considers to be beneficial to the welfare of the child
- therapeutic services for the child
- assistance for the purpose of ensuring the continuance of the relationship between the child and his special guardian or prospective special guardian, including training for the special guardian or prospective special guardian to meet any special needs of the child; respite care; and mediation in relation to matters relating to special guardianship orders and
- general counselling, advice and information
The ASF will also not pay for:
- Support for physical medical conditions
- Speech and language therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other universal health services.
- Education support
- Membership of clubs and organisations
- Legal support
- Support provided by private sector and third sector organisations that are not Ofsted regulated unless commissioned through Local Authorities
- Training of staff
- Support not delivered in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
- Animal, pet or equine therapy
FAQs for Special Guardians on accessing the Adoption Support Fund
Why won’t the adoption support fund pay for the basics?
The Adoption Support Fund is for therapeutic type support. But you should have also been assessed for the Special Guardianship Allowance. If you are having problems with getting that allowance, or are having deductions made from it that should not be made (e.g. child benefit) you should complain to the local authority using a template letter that we have designed for this purpose.
There are also a range of services, not funded by the Adoption Support Fund, that the local authority must ensure are available to Special Guardians. If these are not available in your local authority you could complain using our template letter here.
You can also look at our Family and Friends Discussion Board to see how others in similar situations are coping, and register to start a thread yourself.
The child I care for under an SGO was not born in England. Can I still get the ASF?
Yes, as long as you meet the eligibility criteria and you are living in England.