A cross-party group of MPs and Peers is calling on the next Prime Minister to make a ten-year commitment to funding vital support services for adoptive and special guardianship families, up until 2030.
The Government, to date, has invested nearly £150 million on the Adoption Support Fund (ASF) over the last five years, providing therapeutic services for thousands of children and their families.
This support has helped these children – three-quarters of whom will have been removed from their birth parents as a result of abuse and/or neglect – to recover from the impact of childhood trauma. In the most extreme cases it has prevented placements from disrupting and children being returned to the care system.
The fund’s long-term future is unclear but will be determined as part of the government’s Spending Review, this autumn.
In response to this uncertainty, the All-Party Group for Adoption and Permanence – supported by charities Adoption UK and Home for Good – conducted an inquiry looking at the future of support beyond 2020 and has established the need for ongoing support. Today, the group has published a report, Investing in Families, summarising its findings and proposing a number of changes to fund.
The inquiry found that more than half of adoptive parents are facing significant or extreme challenges with their children, with two-thirds experiencing violent or aggressive behaviour. It also highlights the transformative impact the ASF has had for thousands of adoptive and special guardianship families since it was rolled out across England in 2015.
The APPG’s chair, Rachael Maskell MP, said:
“This inquiry clearly demonstrates the overwhelmingly positive impact the fund has had for thousands of families. This is why we have made the case for securing the fund for a further 10 years. We need to invest in families, not leave them fighting for support. “I urge this country’s next Prime Minister to prove his commitment to supporting this vulnerable cohort of children by acting on the recommendations set out in this report and guarantee a decade of support for these families.”
Dr Sue Armstrong Brown, chief executive of Adoption UK, said:
“The inquiry shows us that the fund is a vital lifeline for those re-parenting children who are living with the legacy of trauma. Adoption is not a silver bullet, so these families need and deserve the right support from the state.”
Phil Green, chief executive of Home for Good, added:
“Adoptive families and special guardians have told us that the fund has made a huge difference to them, but we recognise that it has the potential to achieve much more. The report published today makes a strong case for the fund to be retained but also outlines specific recommendations on how the fund can be improved to ensure that the support truly enables adoptive and special guardianship families to thrive.”