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BexleyChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Adoption Support

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

The Adoption Passport: A Support Guide for Adopters

Adoption Support Fund (Mott MacDonald/DfE)

Adoption Statutory Guidance 2013

RELEVANT LINKS

Adoption Support Services Regulations 2005

BAAF Adoption Allowances

Adoption Allowance Process and Adoption Allowance Review Process available at: N:\Directorate of Social & Community Services\Children & Families\Strategies Policies & Procedures\Adoption and Permanence)

AMENDMENT

This chapter was reviewed in April 2017 by Bexley and substantially updated in Section 9, Financial Support, to reflect local policies and procedures and links to six Appendices were added.

Contents

  1. What is Adoption Support?
  2. Duty to Provide Information Concerning Adoption Support
  3. Examples of Adoption Support
  4. When to Assess the Need for Adoption Support
  5. Which Local Authority Should Carry out the Assessment?
  6. Which Local Authority Should Provide the Support?
  7. Process of Assessment for Adoption Support 
  8. The Adoption Support Plan
  9. Financial Support
  10. Appendix 1: Adoption Financial Support Application Form
  11. Appendix 2: Adoption Allowance Payment Offer
  12. Appendix 3: Adoption Allowance Agreement
  13. Appendix 4: Letter – Adoption Allowance Review of Child’s Needs
  14. Appendix 5: Post Adoption Support Assessment of Need
  15. Appendix 6: Outcome of Adoption Allowance Review Letter

1. What is Adoption Support?

Adoption Support includes any support likely to be required for an adoptive placement to endure through to adulthood and is applicable to both existing and new situations.

Local authorities must make arrangements, as part of their adoption service, for the provision of a range of adoption support services.

Local authorities do not have to provide the services themselves but must have made arrangements for services to be provided by voluntary or other agencies such as Health or Education.

2. Duty to Provide Information Concerning Adoption Support

Under the Adoption and Children Act 2002 (as amended by the Children and Families Act 2014), the local authority has a duty to provide information on adoption support services to:

  • Anyone contacting the authority to request information about adopting a child;
  • Anyone informing the authority that (s)he wishes to adopt a child;
  • Any parent of an adopted child within the authority's area who requests the information;
  • Any parent of an adopted child within the authority's area of whom the authority is/becomes aware (e.g. where a parent rings about an SEN assessment and it becomes clear that the child is adopted).

Information must be provided about:

  • The full range of adoption support services available in the local authority area. This includes, but is not limited to, therapeutic services, assistance in relation to contact arrangements, and financial support;
  • The right to request an assessment for adoption support services (at any time);
  • The address and telephone number of the authority's Adoption Support Services Adviser;
  • The availability of assessments for adoption support services for persons outside the local authority area, so that parents understand which local authority is responsible for assessing their support needs;
  • Contact details for First4Adoption and the local the web-based information service which provides information about adoption;
  • Priority school admissions (where relevant). Details can be found at School Admission of Children Adopted from Local Authority Care, GOV.UK website;
  • Priority council housing and Discretionary Housing Payments;
  • The entitlement to early education from the age of two (from September 2014);
  • How to make a complaint, both under the local authority complaints procedure and to the Local Government Ombudsman;
  • Any other relevant services provided by the local authority;
  • Any other information that the local authority considers relevant.

The following information must also be provided to potential and prospective adopters:

  • Details of where to find information about adoption pay and leave. Details can be found at Adoption Pay and Leave (GOV.UK website);
  • Information about the right to receive a copy of the child's permanence report, including a summary of the medical adviser's report on the health of the child, before the child is placed with them for adoption;
  • The entitlement to a life story book. This should include who provides the life story book, what it includes and what it can be used for.

When a person requests information about a specific service, the local authority must ask whether they would like any of the other information as well.

Information does not need to be provided where:

  • The local authority has provided all the necessary information in the last 12 months and none of the information has changed substantively;
  • A person has informed the local authority that they do not wish to receive the information (unless the authority considers it appropriate to do so);
  • Where the information has already been sent, e.g. where the same person requests the information a number of times in a short period.

If the local authority refuses a person's request for information, it should give reasons for the refusal and signpost the person to the website that holds the information.

3. Examples of Adoption Support

See also The Adoption Passport: A Support Guide for Adopters.

Adoption support is defined as including:

  1. Financial support to adopters. This can include paid adoption leave at similar rates to maternity and paternity leave;
  2. Priority access to social housing, and access to additional support to cover a spare room whilst adopters wait for their child to arrive in their new home;
  3. Priority admission for school places, including academies and free schools;
  4. Services to enable groups of adoptive children, adoptive parents and birth parents to discuss matters relating to adoption;
  5. Assistance, including mediation, with contact arrangements between adopted children and their birth parents or others with whom they share a significant relationship;
  6. Therapeutic services for adopted children;
  7. Assistance to adoptive parents and children to support the adoptive placement and enable it to continue, including respite care;
  8. Assistance to adoptive parents and children where a placement disrupts or is at risk of disruption;
  9. A range of adoption support services, including access to counselling, information and advice for both adoptive parents and their children, who may have complex needs;
  10. Assistance with cross boundary matters;
  11. Intermediary Services - see Intermediary Services Procedure.

Support provided under 4) to 8) above may include cash assistance, for example to pay for a babysitter, although this would not be regarded as financial support.

4. When to Assess the Need for Adoption Support

4.1

In relation to adoptions arranged by the agency, practitioners must assess the need for adoption support at the following stages of care and permanence planning:

  1. When preparing the Child's Permanence Report for presentation to the Adoption Panel as to whether the child should be placed for adoption;

  2. When preparing the Prospective Adopter's Report for presentation to the Adoption Panel as to the suitability of prospective adoptive parents to adopt;

  3. When considering and preparing the Adoption Placement Report for presentation to the Adoption Panel in relation to the proposed placement of a child with particular prospective adopters.

4.2

In relation to placements arranged by the agency, adoption support must also always be considered at a child's Adoption Reviews following the adoptive placement.

See Adoption Reviews Procedure.

4.3

Local authorities must also undertake assessments of need for adoption support at the request of the following:

  1. Children who may be adopted, their parents or guardians;

  2. Persons wishing to adopt a child;

  3. Adopted persons, their parents, birth parents and former guardians;

  4. Other children of adoptive parents (whether or not they are adopted);

  5. Birth siblings of adopted children;

  6. Relatives of the adopted child or other persons with whom the child has a beneficial relationship.

The requirement to assess the need for support is limited to the entitlement to services of the person making the request.

As well as adoptions arranged by the local authority, children adopted from abroad are entitled to be assessed for therapeutic services and disruption support. It is only where the adoption is by a step parent that there is no requirement to carry out an assessment, although in such cases, counselling, advice and information may be offered as appropriate.

5. Which Local Authority Should Carry out the Assessment?

The table below sets out which local authority has responsibility for carrying out the assessment of need for adoption support, and in what circumstances.

Circumstance Responsibility for Assessment

Child being Looked After and in respect of whom an adoption plan is being considered

The local authority looking after the child

Child placed with or adopted by family living in the area of the local authority arranging the adoption

The local authority for the area where the child and adopters live

Child placed with and/or adopted by family living outside the local authority area

The placing local authority has responsibility at the time of the placement and for up to 3 years after the Adoption Order is made, and then the local authority where the adopters live will have the responsibility

In all other cases (i.e. non agency placements except step parent adoptions)

The local authority where the requester lives must assess

6. Which Local Authority Should Provide Support?

The local authority responsible for carrying out the assessment of need should provide support to meet the identified needs.

The exception to this is where ongoing financial support and/or supporting contact arrangements have been agreed by the placing authority before the Adoption Order was made, in which case the responsibility to provide such support will remain with that authority for as long as eligibility for the service continues.

7. Process of Assessment for Adoption Support

In all cases where an assessment is required, the practitioners involved should conduct assessments by following the guidance set out in Working Together. The assessment should take account of the adoption context and, where the assessment relates to the child, all the developmental needs of the child should be covered including health, education and emotional needs, and contact issues. The relevant education service and health trust should be consulted as necessary.

Assessments of need for adoption support under paragraph 4.1 (a) and (b) above should be carried out by the child's social worker and/or the prospective adopters' social worker as appropriate prior to being presented to the Adoption Panel. The assessment under paragraph 4.1.(c) at the time of the child's proposed placement with prospective adopters should be considered at the Matching Meeting and also have the approval of the Designated Manager (Adoption Support) prior to being presented to the Adoption Panel with the Adoption Placement Report. At all stages, the Adoption Panel must consider and may give advice on the proposed adoption support and this advice will be considered by the Agency Decision Maker, before making a final decision on the contents of the Adoption Support Plan - see Placement for Adoption Procedure.

Any assessment (under paragraph 4.2) considered necessary at an Adoption Review, as a result of which a change in the Adoption Support Plan is required, should be referred to the Designated Manager (Adoption Support) for approval who will consider whether the case should be referred back to the Adoption Panel and the Agency Decision Maker.

Requests for assessment for adoption support under paragraph 4.3 above will be allocated to a social worker to carry out an assessment, with advice from the Adoption Support Services Adviser as necessary. The assessing social worker will usually need to interview the person being assessed - where this is a child, the adoptive parents will also need to be interviewed depending on the case and the age, understanding and wishes of the child.

An assessment will not be required before providing advice and information.

Where an assessment is carried out as a result of a request under paragraph 4.3, a written report of the assessment should be produced and agreed by the Designated Manager (Adoption Support).

A copy of the assessment report, once approved, should be sent to the person assessed with notice of the outcome of the assessment, which should state:

  1. The person's assessed needs for support;
  2. Whether the local authority proposes to provide adoption support services and if so, what the proposed services are;
  3. Where the assessment relates to the need for financial support, how this has been determined and calculated and the conditions to be attached, (see Section 9, Financial Support).

Where the person assessed is a child, and it is not appropriate to send the notice to the child, notices should be sent to the adoptive parent or the most appropriate adult.

Where services are proposed, a draft Adoption Support Plan should usually be attached to the notice and those assessed should be allowed time to consider and make representations on the proposal as set out in Section 8, The Adoption Support Plan.

Where the service proposed is one-off, the notice of the outcome of the assessment will be sufficient to outline what is proposed and a draft plan will not be required.

8. The Adoption Support Plan

8.1 Contents of Adoption Support Plan

An Adoption Support Plan should set out clearly:

  1. The objectives of the plan and the key services to be provided;
  2. The timescales for achieving the plan;
  3. Those responsible for implementing the plan and the respective roles of others; what should be provided, when and by whom;
  4. The criteria that will be used to evaluate the success of the plan;
  5. The procedures that will be put in place to review the services to be provided and the plan.

The Adoption Support Plan will need to be completed after consultation with the appropriate Health Trust, CAMHS or education service where any special arrangements may need to be made. Where the child is placed in the area of another local authority, the agencies in that authority's area will need to be consulted as to what services may be available for the adopters and the adopted children. In these circumstances, the prospective adopters should be assisted with any cross-boundary issues that may arise.

The Adoption Support Plan should include any proposed financial support, how the amount has been calculated, where it is to be paid in instalments - the frequency of payment, the period over which it will be paid and when the first payment is to be made, the conditions and the consequences of failing to meet them and the arrangements for review, variation and termination, (see Section 9, Financial Support).

8.2 Consultation with proposed recipients of adoption support

Once a proposed Adoption Support Plan has the approval of the Designated Manager (Adoption Support), a copy should be sent to the proposed recipients of the support, as well as to any party involved in the delivery of the plan.

The recipients of the proposed support should be given 10 working days to consider the proposals and make representations to the local authority about the proposed plan. Any representations made should be considered by the Designated Manager (Adoption Support), who will amend the draft plan as appropriate and inform the recipients of the outcome of his or her consideration.

8.3 Approval of Adoption Support Plan

In relation to proposed agency adoptive placements, the proposed Adoption Support Plan will be submitted to the Adoption Panel when the proposed placement of a child with particular prospective adopters is recommended. The final Adoption Support Plan will be approved, taking into account any advice given by the Adoption Panel. See Placement for Adoption Procedure.

In relation to other situations in which adoption support is proposed, the Adoption Support Plan will be approved by the Designated Manager (Adoption Support).

8.4 Distribution of Adoption Support Plan

A copy of the final plan should go to all those involved in implementing it, and to the recipients of services (or appropriate adult). Where the child has an Independent Reviewing Officer, a copy should be sent to him or her.

8.5 Reviews of Adoption Support Plan

Where adoption support is in place prior to an Adoption Order, the Adoption Support Plan should be reviewed at the reviews of the adoptive placement - see Adoption Reviews Procedure - or at any time if there is a significant change of circumstances, within four weeks of the notification of the change.

After the Adoption Order has been made, the Adoption Support Plan will be reviewed if a change in circumstances is brought to the notice of the local authority. The Adoption Service Manager will decide on the format and content of any such review, which will depend on the circumstances of the case. It may refer to only one element of the Plan or be relatively minor in which case an exchange of correspondence may be sufficient. (For annual reviews of financial support, see Section 9.10, Annual Review of Support).

Where the change of circumstances is substantial, such as a serious change in the behaviour of the child, it may be appropriate to conduct a new assessment of needs involving other parties.

If as a result of a review, whether before or after an Adoption Order has been made, it is proposed to vary or terminate the support, the proposed change must be referred to the Designated Manager (Adoption Support) for approval, who, in the case of agency adoptive placements, may decide to refer the case back to the Adoption Panel for information and advice and then to the Agency Decision Maker for a decision to be made.

Once approved, the person concerned must be notified of the proposed change, together with a copy of the revised Adoption Support Plan in draft. He or she must then be given 10 working days to make representations on the proposals.

Any such representations should be submitted to the Designated Manager (Adoption Support) whose decision as to the final contents of the revised Adoption Support Plan should take into account any representations made.

Notice of the decision must then be sent to the person concerned with reasons and, where appropriate, a copy of the revised plan.

8.6 Urgent Cases

Where there is an urgent need for support, the support can be provided before a Plan is drawn up but the above procedure should then be followed as soon as possible.

9. Financial Support

9.1

Introduction

9.2

Legal Framework

9.3

Policy

9.4

The General Methods of Payment

9.5

Criteria / When can an Adoption Allowance be Paid?

9.6

Types of Payment

9.7

Assessment of Financial Support

9.8

Notifications

9.9

Conditions

9.10

Annual Review of Support

9.11

Suspension of Support

9.12

Ending of Financial Support

9.1 Introduction

The purpose of this policy is to outline the Council's Adoption Financial Support Scheme. Financial support is paid by Bexley’s Children's Social Care (CSC).

This policy should be read in conjunction with relevant updating guidance from the Department for Education and relevant legislation and case law.

The term ‘adoption allowance’ refers to a periodic or regular payment payable at intervals determined by the Adoption Agency. An allowance might be paid to help adopters cope with the costs involved for caring for a group of siblings or a child with identified special needs.

With the introduction of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 a new regulatory structure for adoption support services was introduced which placed a duty on local authorities to assess the need for adoption support services for adoptive families and others. The Adoption Support Services Regulations 2005 (the 2005 Regulations) specify the conditions for providing adoption support services including the provision of financial support.

9.3 Policy

Bexley, subject to eligibility, is able in certain circumstances to provide financial support to an adoptive parent or prospective adoptive parent, for the purpose of supporting the placement of the adoptive child or the continuation of adoption arrangements after an adoption order is made.

A request for an assessment of eligibility for financial support can be made at any time following adoption by an adopter. Bexley has a duty to provide an assessment of need but has discretion as to whether to provide financial support. Eligibility for financial support will be based on an overall assessment of the child and adoptive family's support needs undertaken using the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and Their Families and related practice guidance. This includes the undertaking of an assessment at the request of an adoptive parent, after the granting of an Adoption Order, if the adoptive parent feels there have been significant changes to a child's needs and circumstances or their own financial circumstances.

Bexley will use the DfE Model Means Test to determine the level of financial support provided.

9.4 The General Methods of Payment

The general methods of payment for financial support are by way of:

  1. Regular payments - which will be based upon the developmental age of the child and calculated as agreed periodically by the local authority to meet a specific assessed on-going need;
  2. Lump sum payments (settling in costs, special needs and adaptations), which will cover items or adaptations that are required as a consequence of an assessment of each child's individual’s needs. Payment may be in instalments and will end at a time specified by the local authority;
  3. Payments in special circumstances, (for example, a child with additional needs or where foster carers adopt a child for whom they are already caring, or where adopters incur legal expenses in contested cases). Payment may be in instalments and may end at a time specified by the local authority.

Adoption Allowances are described in the 2005 Regulations. This allowance is in addition to any state benefit an adopter may be eligible for such as Child Benefit.

Financial support is intended to supplement existing means of support available to adoptive parents and the child or children being adopted where necessary and where the criteria for support are met. Adopters must be given advice of entitlements to benefits, tax credits and allowances, and these must be taken into account when considering eligibility for financial support.

All adopters will be asked to complete a Financial Assessment Form.

9.5 Criteria / Eligibility / When can an Adoption Allowance be Paid?

The 2005 Regulations set out that there must be no reward element in financial payments other than as a transitional provision for foster carers adopting a child for whom they are currently caring.

An adoption allowance can be paid from the date of the placement for adoption or from a later date.

In deciding how much, if any, adoption allowance to pay, Bexley must take into account any other grant, benefit, allowance or resource which is available to adopters as a result of the adoption. For example, Disability Living Allowances (DLA), nursery grants, child benefit, etc. Financial support from Bexley must not duplicate financial support via the benefits and tax credit system. The amount of financial support provided in individual cases is a matter for Bexley to determine through the assessment process.

In addition, Bexley must take account of:

Adopter’s financial resources, including any benefits or tax credits that would be available to them if the child lived with them and any investments of the (prospective) Adopter(s); and

  • Adopter’s financial resources, including any benefits or tax credits that would be available to them if the child lived with them and any investments of the (prospective) Adopter(s); and
  • Adopter’s reasonable outgoings and commitments excluding outgoings in respect of the child; and
  • The financial needs and resources of the child.

However, Bexley will disregard the factors listed in the three bullet points above if the allowance is for legal costs or to cover the costs involved in introducing adopters to the child.

Financial support is payable to an adoptive parent for the purpose of supporting the placement of the adoptive child or the continuation of adoption arrangements after an adoption order is made.

If it is established that the child has needs requiring additional financial support it is only then that the adopter’s financial circumstances will come into consideration.

An adoption allowance/financial support may be provided to adoptive parents in the following circumstances:

  1. Where it is necessary to ensure that the adoptive parent can look after the adoptive child; for example where it is considered to be in the child’s best interest for a parent to remain at home for a specified period after placement;
  2. Where the child needs special care which requires greater expenditure of resources by reason of illness, disability, emotional or behavioural difficulties or the continuing consequences of past abuse or neglect; an assessment of the child’s needs will be undertaken to consider whether an allowance or one off payment is appropriate. Payment under this category is intended where the child's condition is serious and long term;
  3. Where Bexley needs to make special arrangements to facilitate the placement or the adoption because of:
    1. The age or ethnic origin of the child; or
    2. The desirability of the child being placed with the brother or sister (whether full blood or half blood) or with a child with whom the child previously shared a home.
    In the above circumstances an assessment of the child/children’s needs will be undertaken to consider whether an allowance is appropriate;
  4. Where such support is to meet recurring travel costs for the purpose of visits between the child and a related person; i.e. post adoption contact;
  5. Where it is considered appropriate to make a contribution to meet the following:
    1. Expenditure on legal costs, including fees payable to a court in relation to an adoption; Bexley will pay the Court fee in all cases and will consider whether it is appropriate to fund legal advice in a contested leave or adoption application or if it is necessary for the adopters to be represented in court. Any agreement as to payment of legal costs (other than the Court fee) will be determined after discussion with Bexley Legal Services;
    2. Travelling expenses for adopters during the period of introductions will be paid using public transport rates. If it is necessary for adopters to incur accommodation costs to facilitate the process, consideration will be given to reimbursing these at the equivalent of Travel Lodge rates;
    3. Expenditure necessary for the purpose of accommodating and maintaining the child, including the provision of furniture and domestic equipment, alterations to and adaptations of the home, provision of means of transport and provision of clothing, toys and other items necessary for the purpose of looking after the child. This will be considered on a case by case basis dependent on the need of the child/children and in all circumstances Bexley will require proof of expenditure or at least two quotes in respected of proposed expenditure before payment can be made.

9.6 Types of Payment

Adoption allowances

Where the Adoption Support Assessment identifies a support need that requires on-going financial expenditure, consideration will be given to paying the adoptive parent an adoption allowance.

Bexley will use the DfE Standardised Means Test to determine the level of financial support provided to each applicant where an adoption allowance will be paid.

If there is disagreement between the family and the Head of Service as to the level of adoption allowance to be paid, the case will be referred to the Director of Children’s Services to make the final decision.

Where the payment is to meet the child’s special needs and where the child's condition is serious and long term, the payment will not be means tested.

Single payments

Single payments of financial support may be provided in cases where the identified need does not require on-going expenditure. Single payments can be one off payments or paid by instalment where the Council and adoptive parent agree.

Remuneration for former foster parents

Financial support will be paid to foster carers in the form of 'remuneration' in the following cases:

  • Where the decision to include it has been made before the adoption order is made and the support assessment considers it to be necessary;
  • Where the adoptive parent has been a local authority foster parent to the child and they received remuneration in their foster care payments whilst fostering the child.

No other payments will be made in excess of the fostering allowance - this includes Birthday and Christmas allowances.

The remuneration element of the financial support will cease at the end of two years from the adoption order unless Bexley consider its continuation to be necessary having regard to the exceptional needs of the child or any other exceptional circumstances.

The remuneration element will only be payable where it has been agreed by the Director of Children’s Services that adoption through the foster carers was the only practicable way to achieve permanence for the child. For example, where the proposed adoption is for a child where adopters could easily have been identified, the remuneration element would not be payable.

For foster carers from independent fostering agencies, the overall payment for the first two years would be the amount that they would receive as Bexley foster carers from the date of approval of the match for adoption.

Child Benefit and Child Tax Credits will be deducted from the remuneration element of the financial support.

After two years an assessment of the child and adoptive family's support needs will be undertaken using the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and Their Families and related practice guidance to determine eligibility for an adoption allowance.

9.7 Assessment of Financial Support

The need for financial support will be determined as part of the Adoption Support Services assessment, from which a support plan is devised. The assessment is carried out under the Framework of the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families and related guidance. This includes providing the prospective adopter with a copy of the draft support plan and an opportunity to comment on the draft plan before it is submitted to Panel.

If a decision is made that it is appropriate for an adoption allowance to be paid and in determining the level of financial support to be paid, Bexley must take account of any other grant, benefit, allowance or resource which is available to the person; as financial support paid under the terms of the Adoption Support Regulations cannot duplicate any other payment available to the adoptive parents.

An Adoption Financial Support Application Form must then be completed by the adopter in order to declare all relevant income and expenditure as required for means tested financial support provided by the London Borough of Bexley (see Appendix 1: Adoption Financial Support Application Form).

The adopters will be asked to provide proof of finances and income (e.g. bank statements). The completed form should be forwarded to the adoption social worker or Team Manager in Adoption. The Adoption Head of Service will decide the level of support to be included in the Adoption Support Plan, and obtain budgetary approval as necessary depending on the amount.

In relation to proposed financial support for a new placement, the Adoption Support Plan will be submitted to the Adoption Panel with the Adoption Placement Report when a matching recommendation is being considered.

9.8 Notification

Before Bexley makes any decision as to whether to provide financial support reasonable notice of the proposed decision must be given to the adopter(s) or prospective adopter(s) to enable them to make representations in response.

The notice must contain the following information:

  1. A statement as to the person’s needs for adoption support services;
  2. Where the assessment relates to their need for financial support, the basis upon which the financial support is determined;
  3. Whether Bexley propose to provide them with adoption support services;
  4. The services they propose to provide;
  5. If financial support is to be paid the proposed amount payable;
  6. Any proposed conditions;
  7. An adoption support plan;
  8. Information about annual reviews (see Appendix 2: Adoption Allowance Payment Offer and Appendix 3: Adoption Allowance Agreement).

Bexley will not make a decision until representations have been made or the local authority has been notified that the adopter(s) is satisfied with the proposed decision, or the period of time for representations has expired. Any representations will need to be made within a reasonable period of time and no more than 28 days after notification of the decision in respect of financial support has been provided to the adopters/prospective adopters.

9.9 Conditions

If it is decided that financial support should be given to adoptive parents, payment will be subject to statutory conditions.

Prior to making financial support available to prospective or adoptive parents, the prospective or adoptive parent(s) will be required to confirm to Bexley immediately in writing:

  1. Of changes to their home address;
  2. If the child dies;
  3. If the child (for any reason) no longer lives with them;
  4. If the child ceases full-time education or training and commences employment;
  5. If the child qualifies for universal credit, income support, employment and support allowance, jobseeker’s allowance or any other credit or allowance in his own right;
  6. If there are any changes to their financial situation/the resources of the child.

Where information regarding the above changes in circumstances is given orally, adoptive parents must confirm this in writing within 7 days.

Prior to making support available, the prospective or adoptive parents will also be required to confirm to Bexley in writing that they will complete and supply Bexley with an annual statement as per the below section regarding Annual Review of Support. Should adoptive parents fail to comply with the requirements, the authority may suspend payment of the financial support provided.

9.10 Annual Review of Support

The annual review of each adoption allowance will be carried out by the Adoption Team. All cases will be reviewed annually. An application form will be sent out a few weeks before the review date, and must be returned with all proofs of income and expenditure by the deadline date. Financial support will be reassessed with effect from the date of review. If the form is not returned by the deadline, financial support may cease and may not be backdated to the review date.

If the Review results in a recommendation for the adoption allowance to be increased, decreased, suspended or terminated, it must be referred to the Adoption Team Manager for consideration as to whether or not a visit to the adoptive family is required; before referring to the Head of Service to make a final decision.

If the decision about the prevailing rate, or change of rate, is difficult to make, a report will be requested from another professional, e.g. a consultant paediatrician, a psychologist, a person seeing a child on a regular basis.

Once an adoption allowance is determined the family circumstances can be reviewed at a time other than at the annual review. This is in recognition that from time to time, there may be a major change either in the needs of the child or family circumstances which could have a significant impact on their ability to continue to adequately meet the needs of the child. This provision is not intended to be used solely to supplement a change in income of the adoptive family.

A record of all adoption allowances will be kept by the Adoption Team together with a report of any medical or psychological condition.

The annual assessment of the child’s needs will consider whether the criteria for an adoption allowance continue to be met. The Adoption Team will send the adopters a Review of Child’s Needs Form (see Appendix 4: Letter – Adoption Allowance Review of Child’s Needs) to complete together with the Financial Support Application form (see Appendix 1: Adoption Financial Support Application Form).

On an annual basis, the adopters should confirm the following within the appendices and provide supporting evidence as to:

  1. Their financial circumstances;
  2. The financial needs and resources of the child or children;
  3. Their home address and whether or not the child or children live at home with them;
  4. If there have been any changes to their own, or the child’s/children’s circumstances.

The Adoption Team will carry out an annual review of the information provided in respect of the child’s needs. It may be necessary to carry out a full assessment of need of the child in some circumstances. The Post Adoption Team will then complete the Post Adoption Support Assessment of Need – (see Appendix 5: Post Adoption Support Assessment of Need).

If the assessment of the child’s needs determines that the criteria are met for the adoption allowance to continue, then a review of finances will take place to calculate the amount, if any, of financial support that may be offered. Any proposed variation or termination of the financial support must be notified to the person(s) concerned and dealt with by the Adoption Team Manager. The adopters will receive a Review of Adoption Allowance letter (see Appendix 6: Outcome of Adoption Allowance Review Letter) and a revised Agreement for the Payment of an Adoption Allowance (see Appendix 3: Adoption Allowance Agreement).

Any decision to vary or terminate payment may result in Bexley considering whether it is appropriate to seek to recover all or any of the financial support already paid. This may be necessary when the adopter has failed to notify Bexley in writing of any change in circumstances.

Should adoptive parents fail to supply an annual statement; the authority will send a written reminder and give them 28 days to comply. If they fail to comply, the authority may suspend payment of the financial support provided.

Before Bexley makes any decision as to whether to provide financial support, reasonable notice of the proposed decision must be given to the adopter(s) or prospective adopter(s) to enable them to make representations in response.

The notice must contain the following information:

  1. A statement as to the person’s needs for adoption support services;
  2. Where the assessment relates to their need for financial support, the basis upon which the financial support is determined;
  3. Whether Bexley propose to provide them with adoption support services;
  4. The services they propose to provide;
  5. If financial support is to be paid the proposed amount payable; and
  6. Any proposed conditions.

Bexley will not make a decision until representations have been made or the local authority has been notified that the prospective adopter(s)/adopter(s) is satisfied with the proposed decision; or the period of time for representations has expired.

If there is disagreement between the local authority and the adopters as to the level of adoption allowance to be paid, following the review, the case will be referred to the Head of Service.

9.11 Suspension of Allowances

The suspension of an allowance is an appropriate and reasonable response to a failure by, the adopters to not provide a completed Review of Child’s Needs form (see Appendix 4: Letter – Adoption Allowance Review of Child’s Needs) and a completed Financial Support Application Form (see Appendix 1: Adoption Financial Support Application Form) upon request. In the first instance, the decision as to suspension will be determined by the Head of Service for up to a maximum period of 3 months. Unresolved suspensions beyond the 3 month period will be referred to the Director of Children’s Services.

Where an adoptive parent does not provide the required completed financial forms Bexley will not suspend the allowance until:

  • The adoptive parent has been sent a written reminder of the need to provide an annual statement; and
  • 28 days have expired since the date on which the notice was sent. 

9.12 Ending of Financial Support

Financial support will end in the following circumstances:

  1. When a child reaches age 18, unless he/she continues in full time education or training when support may continue until the end of the course of education or training being undertaken, subject to any other financial support the child may be entitled to receive;
  2. Where a child ceases full-time education or training and commences employment;
  3. Where a child qualifies for universal credit, income support, employment and support allowance or job seekers allowance in his/her own right;
  4. Where circumstances have changed significantly and the criteria are no longer met;
  5. If a child leaves the adoptive home and this is regarded as a permanent departure. Temporary absences do not apply, e.g. boarding school, hospital, and respite care;
  6. The child dies.

Financial support will also end if the assessment of the child’s needs concludes that the criteria for the allowance are no longer met or where the specified period for payment agreed at the outset comes to an end.

Please address all correspondence or appeals to:

Bexley Adoption Team Manager
Bexley Civic Offices
2 Watling Street
Bexleyheath
DA6 7AT

Appendices

The appendices for this chapter are currently located on the Bexley local directory.

  • Appendix 1: Adoption Financial Support Application Form;
  • Appendix 2: Adoption Allowance Payment Offer;
  • Appendix 3: Adoption Allowance Agreement;
  • Appendix 4: Letter – Adoption Allowance Review of Child’s Needs;
  • Appendix 5: Post Adoption Support Assessment of Need;
  • Appendix 6: Outcome of Adoption Allowance Review Letter.

To access the appendices, please see: N:\Directorate of Social & Community Services\Children & Families\Strategies Policies & Procedures\Adoption and Permanence