Local authorities and regional adoption agencies (RAAs) can apply for therapeutic funding for eligible adoptive and special guardianship order families.
The adoption support fund (ASF) provides funds to local authorities and regional adoption agencies (RAAs) to pay for essential therapeutic services for eligible adoptive and special guardianship order (SGO) families.
The ASF will continue to offer support to adoptive and eligible special guardianship families up to March 2025.
This guide is for local authorities and RAAs so they can apply for ASF funding.
For more information on support available to families, visit:
- First4Adoption and Adoption UK for adoptive families
- Family Rights Group and Kinship for SGO families about kinship care
Apply to the adoption support fund
Contact the ASF fund manager or your adoption support service adviser if you:
- need a new account
- need to register someone new on the system
- want to inform the ASF of any new staff or other changes
To be eligible for funding, local authorities and RAAs must apply to the ASF within 3 months of assessing a family’s support needs.
The ASF is available for children and young people up to and including the age of 21, or 25 with an education, health and care plan, who:
- are living (placed) with a family in England while waiting for adoption
- were adopted from local authority care in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland and live in England
- were adopted from abroad and live in England with a recognised adoption status
- were in care before an SGO was made
- left care under a special guardianship order that was subsequently changed to an adoption order, or vice versa
- are under a residency order or child arrangement order (CAO) and were previously looked after
- were previously looked after but where the adoption, special guardianship, residency or CAO placement has broken down, irrespective of any reconciliation plans
You should make a funding application before therapy starts. We will only consider retrospective applications in exceptional circumstances. This includes:
- the need for an urgent intervention due to the family situation
- an unexpected absence of approving local authority staff when the funding is commissioned
We will not consider administrative and clerical errors, or delays caused by organisational restructuring as exceptional.
Further guidance for local authorities about the different care orders is available.
Maximum funding allocations for each child
Until the end of March 2025, the ASF will have 2 fair access limits:
- £2,500 per child per year for specialist assessment
- £5,000 per child per year for therapy
The majority of applications to the fund fall within these limits. In exceptional cases, where there is an urgent need for higher cost support, local authorities or RAAs are asked to match-fund applications.
Criteria for match-funding:
- a high risk of adoption breakdown without high cost support
- local authorities and RAAs dealing with an unusually high number of complex cases that they cannot afford to fund without additional support from the ASF
- additional funding would help to progress hard to place adoptions
- a lack of available, affordable therapeutic support means higher cost provision is required
The ASF can fund up to 50% of the amount above the fair access limits, up to a maximum of £30,000 per child including the fair access limits.
How families access ASF support
The local authority or RAA that places a child with a family is responsible for assessing that family’s support needs for 3 years after the order is made. After 3 years, the responsibility lies with the local authority or RAA where the family lives, if they have moved.
Families apply to the relevant local authority or RAA, which will assess their needs.
Local authorities and RAAs will:
- assess the family and consider if therapeutic support is needed
- decide on the type required and if it is eligible for payments from the ASF
- apply directly to the ASF
- purchase the support from their own list of approved suppliers when the ASF approves funding
Adoption support fund team