A new adoption support fund worth £19 million is to be rolled out across the UK from May.
The news comes after the Department for Education (DfE) opted to establish the fund as a means to help adoptive families nationwide settle their children into their new homes.
The decision to take the fund nationwide follows a series of successful trials in ten councils.
The fund will help towards the cost of essential therapy services for adoptive families, which will be available as and when they are needed.
Because many adoptive families experience difficulties and trauma while adapting to life with their new families they can be prevented from settling into their new home, which can create difficulties later in life, particularly once the child reaches adolescence.
The DfE’s fund will pay for services like behavioural therapy, play, animal and music therapy for adopted children, while it will also fund family support sessions which should help children deal with their difficulties and give them the confidence to start building stronger relationships with new family members.
The Minister for Children and Families Edward Timpson said he believes the fund will go a long way towards easing the transition into new families for adopted children.
“I know as well as anyone else that children who are adopted having been in care can often have experienced some harrowing and life changing experiences which will not just disappear overnight when they are adopted,” he said.
“This new Adoption Support Fund should become a vital lifeline for hundreds and thousands of adoptive families, and should help them access specialist support services which can help them when they need it most.”
Mr Timpson also said he hoped the move would reassure adoptive families that his “family focussed” government will help adoptive families just as much as it will “nuclear” families.
“Some people will be thinking about adopting or will have just adopted and they are at the beginning of their journey,” he said. “Others may have been adopting for years but our message to all those people is that they are not alone and if challenges arise we won’t leave them to cope on their own – support will be available on every step along the way.”
Support from the fund will be obtainable after an adoption court order is made and can be used to pay services from both the private and voluntary sector. Funding can also be used towards services provided by councils and Child and Adult Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
In the fund’s first year it will be solely funded by the government, before councils step in to assist with funding in subsequent years.
Adoption UK CEO Hugh Thornbery, said his organisation welcomed the news.
“We’re really pleased to see the government has recognised the challenges facing adoptive families and is prepared to address these challenges,” he said.
“It’s gratifying to know the government recognises how adopted children often face extraordinary challenges because of the extraordinary early childhood experiences many have had, which often contribute to their adoption.”
The Family Law Company’s Vanessa Priddis also welcomed the move.
“As a firm we recognise the need for ongoing support for adopters” she said. “The children they adopt will have faced tough times before the adoption process and will have experienced trauma.
“This may not be immediately evident but can emerge many months or even years later leaving adopters to deal with the fallout. Indeed this can even lead to a breakdown of the placement leaving the child feeling even more rejected.
“Anything that can be done to safeguard against this has to be welcomed.
“What also cannot be ignored is that by taking this proactive measure it may save money in the long run in terms of the breakdown of placements and the costs, both financially and emotionally, that this entails.”
If our Exeter and Plymouth solicitors can help you with an adoption case please get in touch.