After adoption: what help can we get?
During the adoption process, it is important to find out what support package will come with your child to help with any special or additional needs they may have.
Some needs may not become apparent until later, perhaps during adolescence, so it's important that you know where to go should you need support at any time.
Adoptive families have a legal right to an assessment of adoption support needs from the local authority responsible for their post-adoption support. You can request this at any point. The assessment covers a range of needs, from mental health and the need for therapeutic services to additional support during a child's education.
This is in addition to the financial benefits and allowances that all families, depending on their circumstances, are entitled to.
Financial help for adopters
Adoption pay and leave
Adoption pay and leave entitlements for adoptive parents are similar to the pay and leave rights available to birth parents. This means that if you take time off work to adopt a child, you are likely to be eligible for Statutory Adoption Leave for up to 52 weeks. Leave can start on the date the child starts living with you or up to 14 days before the expected placement date.
Adoption pay is equal to 90% of your salary for the first 6 weeks of pay. The remaining 33 weeks are paid at £145.18 a week or 90% of your gross average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).
If you are in a couple and both of you work, you may also share parental leave and pay. You may share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay where the adopter takes less than their full entitlement of adoption leave and pay. The leave and pay must be taken within 52 weeks of the child being placed with your family or adoption. For more information, see Statutory Adoption Pay and Leave: employer guide.
Other sources for financial support for adopters include:
Regular financial support can be paid on a weekly or monthly basis to eligible adoptive parents before and after the adoption order is granted, under the Adoption Support Services (Local Authorities) Regulations 2005.
This is designed to encourage adoptions of children who might otherwise not be adopted due to the extra costs associated with looking after them. The amount payable is determined and paid by the local authority looking after the child before adoption (the placing authority), and is means-tested. Lump sums or ongoing payments may be made at any stage and the payment is made by the placing authority.
'Settling-in grant' for adopters
New adoptive parents may be eligible for a settling-in grant to help pay for large items such as a bed for your child's bedroom, or car seats. The settling-in grant is discretionary and you can ask your social worker how to apply for it.
Child Benefit and tax credits
GOV.UK has more information about the financial help available for all parents.
Disability Living Allowance for children
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children is a tax-free benefit for children who have difficulties walking or need extra looking after. Your child may be eligible if they need significantly more supervision and support than would be expected. This benefit is not means-tested.
Carer's Allowance may also be payable to adoptive parents in addition to the DLA in some cases. This may be because childcare arrangements are unable to meet the child's specific needs, which means that 1 parent is unable to take a job.
Adoption Support Fund (ASF)
The Adoption Support Fund has been set up by the Government to pay for services and training for adoptive parents.
To access the Fund, you will need to ask your local authority to do an assessment of your adoption support needs. If the assessment shows that these services would be beneficial, your local authority can make an application to the Fund. For more information see the Adoption Support Fund page on First4Adoption.
Adoption support from your local authority
For the first 3 years after the adoption order is granted, the local authority responsible for placing your adopted child with you is responsible for the statutory assessment. After that, the responsibility lies with the local authority where the adoptive family lives.
However, although the local authority is legally required to carry out the assessment, they are currently not legally required to provide the support that an assessment may reveal they need. Instead, provision of post-adoption support services to families is currently at the local authority's discretion. You can challenge their decision if you feel it is unreasonable, first through your local authority complaints procedure, or if you are still unhappy you can contact the Local Government Ombudsman.
If a local authority decides to provide post-adoption support, they can deliver this support themselves or commission outside agencies such as registered adoption-support agencies or NHS practitioners to deliver the support. For example, they may do this by referring their adopters to the Adoption UK Family Support Service and funding this.
Information on adoption support, setting out the local authority's legal responsibilities and your entitlements, can be found in First4Adoption's Adoption Passport. Your local authority should also have an adoption support advisor you can speak to for advice.
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)
If you ask your social worker or GP for help with psychological or behavioural problems your child may have, you may be referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
Education and adopted children
Because of their previous experiences, some adopted children may need additional support at school.
Children aged 2 years old who have been adopted from care are entitled to a free early education place. They can also benefit from the Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) when they are aged 3 and 4 years old. This is additional funding for providers of early education (such as your child's nursery) to help improve the education they provide for children who need more support. If you would like your nursery or childminder to claim the EYPP, you will need to tell them that your child is adopted.
When your child reaches school age, they are entitled to priority admission to the school of your choice so that you can choose a school that will best meet your child's needs.
Your child's school can also claim the pupil premium, worth an additional £2,300, providing you let the school know that your child is adopted before the annual January census. The additional funding helps schools provide additional support for vulnerable children to improve their education.
Other sources of post-adoption support
There are a growing number of organisations dedicated to increasing awareness of the challenges faced by adopted children and their families and offering information, resources and support for those affected.
You may find the following suggestions helpful:
- The charity Adoption UK can put you in touch with adopters who are facing the same issues as you and invite you to family days where you can meet other adoptive families.
- The Adoption UK helpline is available and gives information and support to adopters who are experiencing challenging behaviour from their children.
- After Adoption is a voluntary adoption agency working throughout England and Wales to help all those affected by adoption – from placing children with adoptive parents to supporting birth families and reuniting families separated through adoption.
- CoramBAAF supports, advises and campaigns for better outcomes for children in care.
- Family Futures is an adoption and therapy agency offering therapeutic help to children who have experienced trauma and are living in birth families, foster homes or adoptive families.
- Great Ormond Street Hospital: the Attachment and Trauma team specialises in the assessment and treatment of children up to the age of 16 who have a background of abuse, neglect or trauma.
- Post Adoption Centre (PAC), which also supports birth families and relatives as well as adopted children and their adoptive families.
- Adoption Plus offers an adoption placement service, specialist therapy services and training and conferences.
- Parenting Advice for Foster Carers and Adopters (PAFCA) is run by clinical child psychologist, Dr Amber Elliott, who specialises in early trauma, adoption and fostering.
For more information about specialist sources of support, read about health issues faced by children who need adopting.
Page last reviewed: 20 August 2018
Next review due: 20 August 2021