Adoption support fund (ASF)

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.

The ASF model is based on the existing statutory framework for the assessment of adoption support or SGO support needs and the provision of support services.

This guide is for local authorities and RAAs so they can apply for ASF funding.

For more information on support available to families, visit:

Apply to the adoption support fund

Start now

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

Funding eligibility

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


Telephone: 01223 463 517


The ASF complaints procedure (PDF, 121 KB, 4 pages) is available.

Published 10 July 2018
Last updated 3 February 2023 + show all updates
  1. Added a link to the Kinship charity.

  2. Added the ASF complaints procedure.

  3. Updated the funding eligibility criteria.

  4. Updated as funding for the ASF will continue until 31 March 2022. Added funding eligibility criteria for children who temporarily leave home and have a care plan that includes an intention to return home - please read the guidance for full details.

  5. Updated funding eligibility information.

  6. Added funding eligibility information about care arrangement orders, changes in status and retrospective applications.

  7. Removed line ‘The ASF aims to complete a review within 5 working days of receiving an application from an LA or RAA’ due to an increase in application processing times.

  8. Added the link to the adoption support fund service.

  9. Updated with information about a service migration and when it will be available again.

  10. First published.