Department for Education
Adoption Reform Update – December 2015

Welcome to our December update.  We only have two items to tell you about this month: one is to announce the publication of the government’s Special Guardianship Review report, and the other, an update on the Adoption Support Fund and funding for 2016-17, together with a case study.

The Adoption and Family Law Team in the Department for Education would like to take this opportunity to pass on our best wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Adoption Support Fund
We are delighted to let you know that the Adoption Support Fund will continue with increased funding in financial year 2016-17. This was confirmed in yesterday’s (Thursday, 17 December) DCS LA bulletin. Further details will be announced early in 2016.

What is the Adoption Support Fund?
A new Adoption Support Fund (ASF) worth £19 million in 2015-16 was rolled out on 1 May 2015. It offers a fast, simple service for local authorities, meaning that adoptive families can access the support they need, as and when they need it.

The ASF pays for therapeutic interventions that are so vital in maintaining a loving, stable placement. Since its launch, it has provided almost £10 million worth of support to nearly 3,000 families.

Case study
In East Sussex a child was adopted when aged 3½, alongside a sibling who was 18 months old. The child’s background is one of chronic neglect, physical harm and sexual abuse. The child (now 14) was assessed with post-traumatic stress and attachment disorder.

The family is now experiencing child on parent violence, sexualised behaviour, and the child is also being violent towards the sibling. The predicted likelihood of adoption breakdown as assessed by the local authority (LA) was ‘extremely likely’.

The services applied for, through the ASF, included:

  • Therapeutic family support to reunite child with adoptive family, and repair the relationship between the adoptive mother and child.
  • Parents currently receive therapeutic parenting support and have received family therapy.
  • The child receives psychotherapy.

The LA was able to respond, and due to the timely therapeutic support delivered, the placement has not broken down and positive progress is being made.

From Dad: ‘Support has helped us maintain and improve our relationship with our child and still be a family.’

If you have adoptive families who need therapeutic support, you can find out more at:

Special Guardianship Review: Publication of Findings
On 17 December the government published a report setting out the findings of its recent review into special guardianship. The review was held because of emerging evidence suggesting a change in the way special guardianship was being used since its introduction in 2005. It explored the use of special guardianship and the assessment process for determining an individual’s suitability to be a special guardian, as well as arrangements for advice and support.

The government’s report includes an analysis of the responses received as part of its Call for Evidence, summarises recent research into special guardianship and sets out next steps.

The report is available at:

Keeping you in touch
We are sending this update to those we have contact details for and look to you to disseminate this bulletin more widely among your colleagues and members. If you do not wish to receive this update please reply to this email and we will ensure your details are removed before any further updates are circulated. If any of your colleagues would like to be added to our circulation list, they should send their name, email address, job title and contact details to

If you have any suggestions as to how we might make these updates more useful to you – or items you would like to see – please let us know by contacting the email address above.

Adoption Reform Team
Department for Education
December 2015