The inquiry has found that more than half of adoptive parents are facing significant or extreme challenges with their children and it highlights the transformative impact the ASF has had for thousands of adoptive and special guardianship families since it was rolled out across England in 2015.
The report calls on the government to ensure that the continuation of the fund is part of its overall strategy in delivering adoption and special guardianship services and recommends that the Department for Education should increase awareness and understanding of the fund among special guardians. The cross party group calls for the next Prime Minister to make a decade long commitment to funding vital support services for adoptive and special guardianship families, up until 2030.
Dr John Simmonds, Director of Policy, Research and Development at CoramBAAF, who contributed to the report said: “The APPG provides both the sector and Parliamentarians an opportunity to learn from, reflect on and shape the Adoption Support Fund. The Fund has provided an important source of finance to provide therapeutic service to children placed for adoption and under a Special Guardianship Order. The Fund has expanded considerably since its prototyping in 2015 and is regarded as a priority in providing therapeutic support to a degree that did not exist before. The future of the Fund is unclear as it is subject to the next Public Sector Spending Agreement.
The evidence presented to the Committee reinforced the message about its benefits and advantages. This was explored either by direct evidence in two meetings in Parliament or written submissions. This included evidence from users themselves , service providers and others with a direct interest its design, delivery, impact and outcomes. Every presenter reinforced the value of the fund and its continuation but there were frequently raised issues about waiting lists for assessments and application, challenges in locating suitable services and concerns when the family needed further help. They were also issues about the underlying issues in the child’s development or early experience and confidence that proposed therapy was likely to improve these. There is an overreaching theme in the adoption support sector about the evidence base for effective interventions and how this might be improved.
The recommendations in the APPG report are clearly focussed on the continuation of the fund, its effective and efficient delivery and its ready availability to both adopted and special guardianship children. Those messages cannot be more clearly stated in the report. The future of a large group of children are dependent on the government finding a positive and early solution to these recommendations.”