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6.8.1 Eligibility for Adoption Support Services


See also the First4Adoption website - Adoption Passport: A Support Guide for Adopters

Please see relevant section of Forms Library to access the required template.


  1. Adoption Support Services
  2. Duty to Provide Information Concerning Adoption Support
  3. Limitations on Adoption Support Provision
  4. Children in Need
  5. Adoption Support Procedure

1. Adoption Support Services

See also Adoption Passport: A Support Guide for Adopters

Adoption support encompasses a range of activities and service provision. Adoption support includes:

  • A range of adoption support services, including access to advice, counselling and information for both adoptive parents and their children, who may have complex needs;
  • Financial support, which can include paid adoption leave at similar rates to maternity and paternity leave;
  • 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;
  • Priority admission for school places, including academies and free schools;
  • The role of the Designated Teacher in offering support of Previously Looked After Children and to their new school;
  • Support groups;
  • Contact mediation;
  • Therapy;
  • Ensuring continuance of relationship by provision of:
    1. Training;
    2. Respite care.
  • In the event of disruption:
    1. Mediation;
    2. Disruption meetings.

Adoption support services may only be provided by a local authority, a registered adoption support agency, a local health board or Integrated Care Board and a local education authority. Commissioning arrangements should be underpinned by a written agreement. Assistance can be given in cash in respect of all services apart from the provision of advice, counselling and information.

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 they wish 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 Education, Health or Care Plan / 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 Schools Admission Code (GOV.UK);
  • Priority council housing and Discretionary Housing Payments;
  • The entitlement to early education from the age of 2 years;
  • How to make a complaint, both under the local authority complaints procedure and to the Local Government and Social Care 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. Limitations on Adoption Support Provision

There are limitations on who may receive each prescribed service, as set out below:

Counselling, Advice and Information:

  • Children who may be adopted, their parents and guardians;
  • Adopted persons, their parents, natural parents and former guardians;
  • Children of adoptive parents;
  • Children who are a natural sibling (full or 1/2) of an adoptive child;
  • Related persons of adoptive children;
  • Anyone wishing to adopt a child.

Financial Support (for setting up and maintaining placements):

  • Only an adoptive parent of a child placed through an adoption agency.

Support Groups: (applies to agency adoptions only)

  • Adoptive children;
  • Adoptive parents;
  • Birth parent/former guardians of adoptive child.

Contact Mediation:

  • All entitled to provision of support groups;
  • Children who are the natural (full or 1/2 ) sibling of a child adopted through an agency;
  • A person related to a child adopted through an agency.

Therapeutic Services:

  • All children adopted through an agency and those adopted from abroad.

Services to ensure the continuation of relationship / in the event of disruption:

  • Adopted child placed by agency or adopted from abroad;
  • Adoptive parent of child placed by agency/adopted from abroad;
  • Any child of an adoptive parent of a child placed for adoption by an agency/adopted from abroad.

A need for adoption support services may arise, or come to the attention of the local authority, in a number of ways.

  • The adoption agency may identify a need at any stage during the process of placing a child for adoption, but specifically at the point that the adoption agency is considering proceeding with a proposed placement of a child with a particular prospective adopter(s);
  • As a result of being notified by a voluntary adoption society;
  • At the request of another Local Authority;
  • As a result of a self-referral from any individual who may be entitled to receive services; 
  • Children's Social Care may already be working with an individual or family when a possible need for adoptive support services is identified.

4. Children in Need

Adopted children and their families may be referred to, or seek assistance from, Children’s Social Care in accordance with other legislation, e.g. section 17 or section 47 of the Children Act 1989. An adopted child may fall within the definition of a Child in Need, and s/he and his/her family is entitled to be assessed in accordance with Working Together to Safeguard Children, in the same way as any other child and family in the community. Many services available to any child in need will be of benefit to adopted children and their families, and the mere presence of an adoption dimension within the family should not lead to a presumption that the child or family need specialist adoption support services. Adoption Support Services should not be regarded as an alternative to universal or more generally available services.

A Single Assessment may result in either:

  • A need for prescribed adoption support services which are not generally available (e.g. support group, contact mediation);
  • A need for a service which is available generally and is also a prescribed adoption support service (e.g. therapeutic services, training involving parenting advice or respite care), but the level of need is not considered to fulfil the CiN eligibility criteria.

In theses circumstances it would be appropriate to make a referral (with the consent of the service user) to the adoption team for an assessment of need under the adoption support services regulations.

An assessment of an individual's need for adoption support services may be carried out at the same time as an assessment of need under any other legislation. The assessment format used for adoption support services is similar to that used when undertaking a Children in Need assessment. When a recent Children in Need assessment is in progress or has been carried out, and subsequently a need for prescribed adoption support services is identified, this assessment should be used as the basis of any subsequent assessment for adoption support services. When adoption support services are required in addition to other services, discussion should take place with the Adoption Team Leader to clarify roles and responsibilities and who will take lead responsibility for the case.

5. Adoption Support Procedure

  1. Prospective adopters should receive full information about any adoption support services to be provided;
  2. Advice should be given about available benefits and employee rights to leave and pay. Assistance should also be given with any cross boundary matters.
  3. All referrals for adoption support services post adoption order should be made to the central referral number and sent to the Early Help Advice and Safeguarding Hub. The referral will then be sent to the relevant safeguarding team;

    On receiving a referral for adoption support services through the above route.
  1. All adoptive child care concerns will automatically become CiN and a multi agency meeting convened with representatives from the adoption team if required.

    Referrals should only be re-directed to the Adoption Team, if they are related to schedule 2 enquiries, post box or birth parent counselling;
  2. In all cases where there is a need for a prescribed adoption support service, the social worker should discuss this with the service user and seek consent to make a referral and share information with the adoption team;
  1. The Adoption Team Manager will acknowledge receipt of the referral and allocate an adoption support worker;
  2. The Adoption Team Manager and Safeguarding Team Manager will agree roles and responsibilities in respect of the case. If appropriate, responsibility for the case may be transferred to the adoption team following the usual procedure (see separate procedure "Case Closure Procedure");
  3. When both the adoption team and Safeguarding Team continue to be involved, the adoption support worker and child care social worker will liaise regularly, keeping each other informed of any review of, and changes to, service provision.