19m to support adopted children

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Play and music therapy will form part of a package of support to help adopted children bond with their families.

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The Adoption Support Fund, launched by children’s minister Edward Timpson, will pay for services to support children to recover from early abusive experiences.

The trial scheme will start in the next few months with a number of local authorities.

Support for adoptive parents has been lacking, with research by Adoption UK showing that many parents are unaware that they have a right to support, despite the fact that local authorities have a legal duty to assess the type of support they need.

The research carried out last year found that 81 per cent of adoptive parents said their support needs were identified, but only 56 per cent were given the support they needed.

Through the fund central Government, local authorities and other organisations will contribute to providing the support so that parents can pay for specialist services, such as cognitive therapy, play and music therapy and intensive family support.

‘We know that children adopted from care have often lived through terrible experiences which do not just simply disappear once they have settled with their new families,’ Mr Timpson said.

‘The Adoption Support Fund will provide adoptive families with the right support - from cognitive therapy to music and play therapy and attachment based therapy - to ensure that these children have a stable and fulfilling childhood - a fundamental right for every child, no matter what their starting point in life.’

The funding is part of the Government’s Supporting to Adopt programme, which includes an Adoption Passport providing information for adoptive parents and giving adoptive parents the same rights to pay and leave as birth parents.

Hugh Thornbery, chief executive, Adoption UK, said, ‘We believe that the Government’s commitment to providing funding for adoption support has the potential to be the most influential advance so far in improving today’s adoption system. With the majority of children currently waiting in care for adoption coming from a traumatised background, this momentous development provides the foundation on which a successful adoption system can be built.’

The British Association for Adoption & Fostering (BAAF) said that the fund would need to be implemented with care to take into account evidence from the pilot scheme, but said that it could help to encourage more people to consider adoption.

BAAF said, ‘Adopters need to have confidence right from the beginning that if they find themselves in difficulty that there are services to whom they can reliably turn for advice, support or in some cases treatment. ‘Those services need to be resourced. Establishing this new source of funding will inspire confidence and that can play a significant part in an individual or a couple’s decision on whether they will adopt. There is a significant shortfall in the number of people coming forward to adopt and that confidence should have a significant impact on that "recruitment challenge".’

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