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6.8.3 Provision of Financial Support to Adopters and Special Guardians

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


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Criteria for Financial Support
  3. Factors for Consideration during Assessment
  4. Methods of Payment
  5. Other Key Issues
  6. Termination of Financial Support
  7. Assessment for Financial Support Procedure
  8. Review of Financial Support Paid Periodically


1. Introduction

  1. Financial support is one of the services prescribed under the Adoption Support Services and Special Guardianship Regulations, but is only payable, as a prescribed service* to an adoptive parent or special guardian for the purpose of supporting the placement of the adoptive child, or the continuation of the care arrangements after a relevant order is made. Financial support can be provided at any time, even if no decision to provide financial support had been made at the time the child was placed with the adopters or the special guardianship order was made.
    • This does not preclude other individuals entitled to receive non-financial adoption support services from receiving cash payments in respect of these services.


2. Criteria for Financial Support

  1. Financial support is only payable where:
    • It is necessary to ensure that the adoptive parent or special guardian can look after the child;
    • 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 and neglect;
    • Special arrangements to facilitate the child's adoption are needed because of:
      • The age or ethnic origin of the child;
      • The desirability of placing the child together with a brother or sister or child with whom s/he previously shared a home
    • It is to meet recurring travelling costs arising from the child visiting a related person;
    • The Local Authority consider it appropriate to contribute to such expenditure as:
      • Legal costs, including court fees in relation to an adoption /special guardianship application in respect of the child;
      • Costs incurred during the introduction of the child to his/her adoptive parent(s);
      • The cost of accommodating and maintaining the child, including the provision of furniture and domestic equipment, alterations and adaptations to the home, provision of means of transport and provision of clothing, toys and other items necessary for looking after the child.
  2. The financial support paid to adoptive parents or special guardians may include an element of remuneration if the child was a local authority foster child being fostered by the adoptive parent(s) or special guardian(s) prior to being placed for adoption with them, and they received an element of remuneration in the fostering allowance they received for the child. However the element of remuneration is normally only payable for a period up to two years after the date the adoption or special guardianship order was made. In exceptional cases the Local Authority can continue paying remuneration if they consider the child's needs or other circumstances warrant this.


3. Factors for Consideration during Assessment

  1. In assessing an adoptive parent's or special guardian's need for financial support, and determining the amount payable, the factors which need to be considered or taken into account will vary depending on the nature and purpose of the payments being made, as follows:
    • In all cases - the local authority must take account of any grant, benefit, allowance or resource that is available to the parent in respect of his needs as a result of the adoption or special guardianship of the child;
    • Legal fees in relation to adoption (adoption agency cases) and special guardianship (looked after children only) - the local authority cannot take account of any other factor including the financial circumstances of the adoptive parent/special guardians or the child. i.e. a means test is not to be applied;
    • Costs incurred in introducing a child to his adoptive parents - the local authority cannot take account of any other factor including the financial circumstances of the adoptive parent or the child i.e. a means test is not to be applied;
    • Initial costs of accommodating a previously looked after child (setting up costs) - the local authority may take account of the financial circumstances of the adoptive parent /special guardian or the child i.e. the application of a means test is discretionary;
    • Recurring travelling expenses in respect of child's contact visits - the local authority may take account of the financial circumstances of the adoptive parent /special guardian or the child i.e. the application of a means test is discretionary;
    • Ongoing expenditure in respect of the accommodation and maintenance of the child - the local authority must take account of the financial circumstances of the adoptive parent/ special guardian or the child - i.e. a means test is obligatory - unless one of the following conditions apply:
      • The child is an adoption agency child/was previously looked after and 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 and neglect;
      • Special arrangements to facilitate the child's adoption are needed because of the age or ethnic origin of the child, or the desirability of placing the child together with a brother or sister or child with whom s/he previously shared home;
      • An element of remuneration is being paid to a former foster carer (see key point 3).
  2. Where the financial circumstances of the adoptive parents or special guardians and child are to be considered, the following matters must be taken into account:
    • The financial resources of the adoptive parent(s) or special guardian(s), including any tax credit or benefit which would be available to him if the child lived with him/her/them;
    • The amount required by the adoptive parent(s)or special guardian(s) in respect of his/her/their reasonable outgoings and commitments (excluding outgoing in respect of the child);
    • The financial needs and resources of the child.


4. Methods of Payment

  1. Financial support may be paid:
    • Periodically (i.e. a regular allowance) where it is paid to meet recurring expenses;
    • By a single payment, or by agreement between the adoptive parent(s) / special guardian(s) and local authority, in instalments.
  2. In the case of periodical payments of financial support, the payments are conditional on the adoptive parent(s) or special guardian(s) agreeing to:
    • Inform the local authority immediately, and confirm in writing within 7 days of:
      1. Any change of address;
      2. The death of the child;
      3. Any change of circumstance which results in the adoptive parent(s)'s or special guardian(s)'s entitlement to receive support ending (see Key point 9);
      4. Any change in the financial circumstances of the adoptive parent(s) or special guardian(s) or change in financial resources and needs of the child which may affect the amount of financial support payable.
    • Provide the Local Authority with an annual statement of:
      1. His/her/their financial circumstances;
      2. The financial needs and resources of the child;
      3. Confirmation of address and that the child still has a home with him/her /them.
    • Any other conditions the local authority considers appropriate, including the timescale and purposes for which any payments may be used.


5. Other Key Issues

  1. When financial support is to be provided, the notification of the decision to provide adoption or special guardianship support services must include the following additional matters:
    • The method of determination of the amount of financial support;
    • Where financial support is to be paid in instalments or periodically:
      • The amount of financial support;
      • The frequency with which payments will be made;
      • The period for which financial support is to be paid;
      • When the first payment of financial support is to be made.
    • Where financial support is to be paid as a single payment, when the payment is to be made;
    • Where financial support is to be paid subject to any conditions:
      • Those conditions;
      • The date (if any) by which the conditions must be met;
      • The consequences of failing to meet the conditions.
    • The arrangements and procedure for review, variation and termination of financial support;
    • The responsibilities of:
      • The local authority in relation to reviews;
      • The adoptive parent(s) /special guardian(s) in relation to the conditions for payment of support periodically.

6. Termination of Financial Support

  1. The adoptive parent(s) or special guardian(s)'s entitlement to receive financial support will cease in the following circumstances:
    • The child ceases to have a home with the adoptive parent(s) or special guardian;
    • The child ceases full-time education or training and commences employment;
    • The child qualifies for income support or job seeker's allowance in his/her own right;
    • The child attains the age of 18 unless s/he continues in full-time education or training, when it may continue until the end of the course or training he is then undertaking.
  2. Should the adoptive parent(s) or special guardian(s) fail to comply with any of the conditions which were applied to the payment of financial support the local authority may suspend or terminate payments; and may seek to recover all or part of any financial support already paid. However where the failure relates to the provision of the annual statement, the local authority must send a written reminder and allow a period of 28 days to elapse after sending the reminder, before taking any remedial action;
  3. The maximum amount of financial support payable as a regular allowance will be equivalent to 65% of the East Riding of Yorkshire Council's basic fostering allowance payable if the child were fostered. The actual amount paid will take account of the financial circumstances of the adopter(s) or special guardian(s) based on the principles outlined above. However in exceptional circumstances the Director of Children, Families and Schools may use their discretion to disregard the financial circumstances an adoptive parent or special guardian when determining the allowance payable in accordance with the provisions set out in key point 4 (see last bullet point);
  4. An element of remuneration will be paid, in accordance with key point 3, in the case of prospective adopter(s) or special guardians who are adopting a child, or applying for a special guardianship order in respect of a child, who was looked after by East Riding of Yorkshire Council and fostered by the prospective adopter(s) /special guardians prior to being placed with them for adoption, being made the subject of a special guardianship order.


7. Assessment for Financial Support Procedure

  1. Cases when financial support is to be provided at the point that a child is placed with a particular prospective adopter(s) / the carer is applying for a special guardianship order

    The prospective adopter/special guardian(s)'s social worker should complete an assessment of the adopter/special guardian(s)' needs for adoption/special guardianship support services (see Assessment of Need for Adoption Support Services and Preparation of Adoption Support Plan Procedure) If the assessment indicates that ongoing financial support should be provided, a draft adoption/special guardianship support plan must be prepared. The completed assessment and draft support plan should be forwarded to the Adoption Team Manager;
  1. The Adoption Team Manager, in consultation with the Adoption Support Adviser, will decide whether financial support should be provided, and a decision record will be completed by the Adoption Support Adviser. The decision record will be returned to the social worker, and retained on the prospective adopter/special guardian(s)'s file;
  2. When a weekly allowance is to be paid, the Administrative Officer Child Care Resources will issue a financial assessment form to the prospective adopter/special guardian's social worker, and notify the Assessment and Payments section of the potential application;
  3. The prospective adopter/special guardian's social worker will arrange for the prospective adopters/special guardians to complete a financial assessment form, based on the applicants situation at the time when the child is placed with them for adoption, or a special guardianship order is made in their favour. The applicant must pay particular attention to the requirements set out in the guidance to the form regarding the evidence that must be provided of his/her/their financial circumstances;
  4. The completed financial assessment form must be returned by the applicant to the Assessment and Payments section, who will check that the applicant has provided the appropriate verification and will calculate the amount of allowance payable. The Assessment and Payments section will provide a statement setting out the calculation of the allowance. and send a copy to the Administrative Officer, Child Care Resources and the applicant's social worker;
  5. Steps 6-9 of the procedures "The Assessment of Need for Adoption Support Services, and Preparation of Adoption Support Plans" or "The Assessment of Need for Special Guardianship Support Services, and Preparation of Support Plans" must then be followed. However the matters set out in key point 8 above must also be included in the notifications sent to the adopters/special guardians;
  6. When financial support involves periodic payments (i.e. an allowance), the Administrative Officer Child Care Resources will prepare a notification letter which will include the detailed terms and conditions for receiving payments, and send this to the adoptive parents/special guardians. The adoptive parent/special guardian or both parents/special guardians in the case of a couple, must sign and return the acknowledgement of receipt of the notification letter and agreement to abide by the conditions set out in it before any payment can be made;
  7. On receipt of the signed agreement from the adoptive parent/special guardian(s), the Adoption Team Manager/Adoption Support Adviser will authorise payments to start, by completing form Gen4, which will be sent to Assessment and Payments section by the Administrative Officer Child Care Resources;
  8. All other cases where financial support is to be provided

    The adoption support worker will usually be responsible for undertaking assessments of need for both adoption and special guardianship support services, including financial support, which have arisen after an adoption/special guardianship order has been made. Steps 1- 7 above should be followed, substituting "adoption support worker" for "prospective adopter/special guardian(s)'s social worker" and in step 6, substituting "steps 22-24"(adoption) or 19-21(special guardianship) for "steps 6-9".


8. Review of Financial Support Paid Periodically

  1. When financial support is being paid periodically, (adopters/special guardians receive a weekly allowance) Assessment and Payments section will initiate the review process:
    • 10 months after the first payment has been made;
    • On receiving any relevant notification of a change in circumstances from the adopter(s)/special guardian(s);
    • At the request of the Adoption Team Manager.
  2. Assessment and Payments section will write to the adopter(s)/special guardian(s) requesting that an annual statement/review of financial circumstances form is completed and returned. A copy of the letter will be sent to the Administrative Officer Child Care Resources;
  3. On receipt of the annual statement, Assessment and Payments section will check whether any adjustments need to be made to the amount of financial support payable, and issue a revised statement setting out the calculation of the allowance. Assessment and Payments section will then notify the Adoption Team that the annual statement has been received from the adopter/special guardian(s) enclosing the revised statement of calculation;
  4. Should the adopter/special guardian(s) fail to send an annual statement within 14 days of the request, Assessment and Payments section will send a written reminder of the need to provide an annual statement with a copy to the adoption team;
  5. Should the adopters /special guardian fail to send an annual statement after receiving the written reminder, Assessment and Payments section will send a final letter notifying the adopter/special guardian of the date that payments will cease if no statement is received, with a copy to the Adoption Team Manager;
  6. On receiving the notification from assessment and payments, the Adoption Team Leader will initiate a review of the adoption/special guardianship support services being provided to the adopter/special guardian(s) (see Provision of Financial Support to Adopters and Special Guardians Procedure);
  7. On completion of the review of the provision of support services, and where only a weekly allowance is being provided and there is no change in the payments, the Adoption Team Manager will arrange for the adopter/special guardian(s) to be notified of the outcome of the re-assessment of the amount of financial support to be paid, enclosing a copy of the new statement off calculation;
  8. In all other cases the notification procedure set out in the separate procedure " Review of Adoption Support Services" should be followed.

End