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Adoption support fund (ASF)

The adoption support fund

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:

First4Adoption and Adoption UK for adoptive families

Family Rights Group for SGO families

Apply to the adoption support fund

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Contact the ASF fund manager or your adoption support service advisor 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 immediately before a SGO was made
left care under a special guardianship order which subsequently was 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


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

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