Adoption support in England
There have been some recent developments in the support that’s open to adopters, separate to that provided in the tailored package you agree with your local authority at the time of adoption. Don’t forget you can ask your local authority for an assessment at any time for additional support, no matter how long after the adoption.
Post-matching/pre-adoption appointments – To make sure that staff who adopt are treated as equally as staff who need time off for antenatal appointments, you can get paid time off work to attend five adoption appointments after you’ve been matched with a child. You will qualify for this paid time off if you qualify for statutory adoption leave. Your pay for these appointments should be at your normal salary rate and the time off shouldn’t be deducted from your adoption leave.
If you don’t qualify for statutory adoption leave because your partner will take it – only one person in a couple can take adoption leave – you can still take time off work to attend two adoption appointments. The time off for these two appointments will be unpaid – unless your employer chooses to offer them as paid time off – to mirror the situation with a pregnant couple, where the pregnant woman’s partner is entitled to unpaid leave for two antenatal appointments.
The adoption support fund – This fund opened in May 2015. It’s for adopters who feel they need additional support for their child and is available for children up to – and including – 21 years old. The fund supports children living in England who are adopted and were previously in local authority care in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. It also supports children living in England adopted from overseas and those who are subject to a Special Guardianship Order. After assessing your child’s needs, the local authority will agree a provider with you to meet those needs. The authority then applies to the fund and – once successful – will contract the supplier to provide the necessary support. For more information visit the First4Adoption website.
Pupil Premium – This Premium provides extra funding to state-funded schools to help their staff give extra support to certain pupils including all children adopted from care. Since April 2014 funding is £1,900 per pupil per year. It is paid to schools so that they can invest in specific support measures to address issues that may prevent adopted children from reaching their potential. In order for your child’s school to receive the premium you’ll have to inform the school that your child is adopted. While you can’t insist on how the Premium is spent you can ask how it has been allocated and there is also a legal requirement for the school to publish information online about its pupil premium funding allocation, how it has been used and the impact it has had on disadvantaged pupils. The Premium applies to all adopted schoolchildren from Reception class through to Year 11 who were adopted from care. For more detailed information on Pupil Premium visit the First4Adoption website. There are also some interesting case studies on how the Pupil Premium is being used that you can read on BAAF’s website.
Free childcare – Two year olds in England who’ve been adopted are entitled to 570 hours of free childcare. This is usually taken as 15 hours each week for 38 weeks of the year. You can start claiming after your child turns two.
All 3 to 4-year-olds in England can get 570 hours of free early education or childcare per year, usually taken as above. For more information visit the gov.uk website.
School places – Schools are asked to give all children adopted from care priority access to school places. This means that your child should be able to attend the school you think will best meet their needs. For more information visit the gov.uk website.
Early Years Pupil Premium – This funding is for early years pre-school settings to improve the education they provide for disadvantaged three and four year-olds, including those adopted from care. It’s available for children living in England aged three to four – but not four year-olds in reception class at school – who have left care under an adoption order/ a special guardianship order/ a residence order/child arrangements order. This Premium goes directly to registered early years providers that offer children the free early education entitlement. The provider can choose how they use the money to improve the quality of their provision. For more information on the Premium, including restrictions and detailed claiming criteria, visit the First4Adoption website.
There are also benefits for adopters around adoption leave, adoption pay and shared parental leave. You can find the most up-to-date information on the criteria for these on First4Adoption’s website.