Adoption Support

1. What is Adoption Support?

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

Adopt North East must make arrangements, as part of their adoption service, for the provision of a range of adoption support services.

Adopt North East do not have to provide the services themselves but must have made arrangements for services to be provided by voluntary or other agencies such as Health or Education.

2. Duty to Provide Information Concerning Adoption Support

Adopt North East acts on behalf of Gateshead Council, Newcastle City Council, Northumberland County Council, North Tyneside Council and South Tyneside Council to meet the requirements placed upon them under the Adoption and Children Act 2002 (as amended by the Children and Families Act 2014) to provide information on adoption support services to:

  • Anyone requesting information about adopting a child;
  • Anyone informing Adopt North East that they wish to adopt a child;
  • Any parent of an adopted child within the Adopt North East geographical area of responsibility who requests information;
  • Any parent of an adopted child within the Adopt North East area of whom the authority is/becomes aware.

Information provided by Adopt North East will include:

  • The full range of adoption support services available through Adopt North East. 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 Adopt North East's Adoption Support Services;
  • The availability of assessments for adoption support services for persons outside the Adopt North East 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 in School Admissions Code (GOV.UK);
  • Priority council housing and Discretionary Housing Payments;
  • The entitlement to early education from the age of 2 years (since September 2014);
  • How to make a complaint, both under the local authority complaints procedure and to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman;
  • Any other relevant services provided by the Agency;
  • Any other information that the Agency considers relevant.

The following information is also provided by Adopt North East to potential and prospective adopters:

  • Details of where to find information about adoption pay and leave. Details can be found at Adoption Pay and Leave (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 including who is responsible for providing the life story book, what it includes and what it can be used for.

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

Information does not need to be provided where:

  • Adopt North East has provided all the necessary information in the last 12 months and none of the information has changed substantively;
  • A person has informed the Adopt North East that they do not wish to receive the information (unless the Agency 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 Adopt North East refuses a person's request for information, it should give reasons for the refusal and signpost the person to other sources of information.

3. Examples of Adoption Support

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

Adoption Support is defined as including:

  1. Financial support to adopters. This can include paid adoption leave at similar rates to maternity and paternity leave;
  2. Priority access to social housing, and access to additional support to cover a spare room whilst adopters wait for their child to arrive in their new home;
  3. Priority admission for school places, including academies and free schools;
  4. The role of the Virtual School Head Teacher in offering support to previously looked after children and to their new school;
  5. Services to enable groups of adoptive children, adoptive parents and birth parents to discuss matters relating to adoption;
  6. Assistance, including mediation, with contact arrangements between adopted children and their birth parents or others with whom they share a significant relationship;
  7. Therapeutic services for 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.

4. When to Assess the Need for Adoption Support

4.1

In relation to adoptions arranged by the Adopt North East, the Agency will, upon request, consider and assess the need for adoption support at the following stages of care and permanence planning:

  1. When a Local Authority is preparing the Child's Permanence Report for consideration by the Agency Decision Maker whether the child should be placed for adoption;
  2. When preparing the Prospective Adopter's Report (PAR) for presentation to the Adoption Panel as to the suitability of prospective adoptive parents to adopt;
  3. When considering and preparing the Adoption Placement Report for presentation to the Adoption Panel in relation to the proposed match of a child with particular prospective adopters.

4.2

Additionally, Adopt North East will consider the need for Adoption Support at a child's Adoption Review.

See: Review of Prospective Adopters Procedure.

4.3

Adopt North East 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 Adopt North East, children adopted from abroad are entitled to be assessed for therapeutic services and disruption support. It is only where the adoption is 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.

5. Who Should Carry out the Assessment of Need?

The table below sets out who 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

Adopt North East will carry out an assessment of need for Looked After Children who are the responsibility of Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside or South Tyneside. For other Looked After Children, it will be 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

Adopt North East will carry out an assessment of need for children living in the area of Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside or South Tyneside if the adoption was made more than three years ago.

If the adoption was made less than three years ago, it is the responsibility of the Agency that made the arrangement for the adoption.

Child placed with and/or adopted by family living outside the local authority area

If the adoption was made less than three years ago by Adopt North East, then it is the responsibility for the first three years of the adoption wherever the child and family live. After 3 years, then the Local Authority where the adopters live will have the responsibility to make arrangements for an assessment of need.

6. Who is Entitled to be Assessed for Services?


Who is entitled to be assessed for services?

7. Which Local Authority Should Provide Support?

The Local Authority or Agency responsible for carrying out the assessment of need should provide support to meet the identified needs.

The exception to this is where ongoing 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 under paragraph 4.1 (a) and (b) above 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 under paragraph 4.1.(c) 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 (Adoption Support) 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.

Any assessment (under paragraph 4.2) 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 (Adoption Support) 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 4.3 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 4.3, a written report of the assessment should be produced and agreed by the Designated Manager (Adoption Support).

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 (Adoption Support), 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 (Adoption Support), who will amend the draft plan as appropriate and inform the recipients of the outcome of their considerations.

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, taking into account any advice given by the Adoption Panel.

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

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 them.

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 Review of Prospective Adopters Procedure - or at any time if there is a significant change of circumstances, within 4 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.

If as a result of a review, whether before or after an Adoption Order has been made, it is proposed to vary or terminate the support, the proposed change must be referred to the Designated Manager (Adoption Support) for approval, who, in the case of agency adoptive placements, may decide to refer the case back to the Adoption Panel for information and advice and then to the Agency Decision Maker for a decision to be made.

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

Any such representations should be submitted to the Designated Manager (Adoption Support) 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

10.1 Introduction

Financial support is not provided by Adopt North East and remains the responsibility of the Local Authority that placed the child for adoption for the first three years or, after three years, the responsibility of the Local Authority where the child and family reside.

The five partner Local Authorities of Adopt North East have specific eligibility criteria for financial support.

All five will consider providing financial support where:

  1. It is necessary to ensure that adoptive parents can look after a child;
  2. The child needs special care which requires a greater expenditure of resources by reason of illness, disability, emotional or behavioural difficulties or the continuing consequences of neglect - and the child's condition is serious and long-term;
  3. It is necessary for the local authority to make any special arrangements to facilitate the placement or the adoption by reason of the age or ethnic origin of the child or the desirability of the child being placed with siblings or a child with whom they have previously shared a home;
  4. Such support is to meet the recurring costs of travel for visits for the child to members of the birth family/significant others;
  5. The local authority considers it appropriate to contribute towards expenditure on legal costs, including Court fees (in cases where the adoption is supported by the local authority), or expenses associated with the child's introduction to adoptive parents or expenditure on accommodating the child (e.g. adaptations to the home, furniture, clothing or transport).