Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual
Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual

6.2.5 Financial Support for Adopters (Practice Guidance)

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

The purpose of this chapter is to set out the range of financial support available to adoptive parents from the initial placement of a child through to support offered after an adoption order is made.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in September 2012 and should be re-read.

Key Legislation and Regulation

Adoption and Children Act 2002, Adoption Support Regulations 2005, Dept of Health Adoption Support Services Guidance 2003.


Contents

  1. Principles
  2. Pre Order Support
  3. Post Order Support


1. Principles

Financial support to adopters are discretionary payments made by Nottingham City Council to assist adoptive families with the costs associated with caring for a city child they propose to, or have adopted.

Financial support is payable to facilitate the placement of children where it is likely to be difficult to find prospective adopters able to meet the child's needs.

When considering a particular placement of a child 'matched' with adopters both the needs of that child and the finances of the adopters must be considered together. The adopter's finances are 'means tested'.

Any financial support arrangements prior to placements must be included in the child's Adoption Support Plan.


2. Pre Order Support

Types of Financial Support

The department offers three types of financial support to adopters:

  • Regular ongoing;
  • Settling in grants and pre order payments;
  • One off payments.

Ongoing Financial Support

Regular ongoing financial support intends to facilitate placements for our harder to place children. The criteria for those are:

  • Sibling groups of 3 or more children;
  • Children joining their siblings in an adoptive family;
  • Black and dual heritage children;
  • Children over 7 years of age;
  • Children who exhibit significant developmental delay and/or physical disability where the condition is serious and long term;
  • Children who need special care requiring greater expenditure because of emotional or behavioural difficulties. These must be significant and long term;
  • To meet recurring and regular travelling costs to maintain direct contact for the child with relatives.

All these provisions are subject to a financial assessment of the income of the potential adopters (means tested). If any of the potential adopters wish to know whether they may be eligible for an ongoing adoption support allowance and they are potentially interested in a child who meet the criteria above, then the assessing social worker contacts the finance section to request a provisional financial assessment form to be sent out to the adopters

If a child to be placed meets the criteria above, a final financial assessment of the potential adopters should be requested from the finance section by the social worker as soon as the match is clearly being progressed. This will be prior to the adoption panel decision.

The adoptive family must apply for all benefits and tax credits to which they are entitled and any financial assessment must take these into account.

The results of the financial assessment are sent to the potential adopters and their adoption social worker. The Service Manager, Fostering and Adoption, then has to agree whether this allowance should be paid.

The potential adopters will be informed through the finance section of the decision including the exact figure of the allowance payable. They will reply accepting (or not) the offer.

Any regular ongoing financial support agreed before the adoption order for a Nottingham city child remains the responsibility of this department for as long their adoptive family qualifies for payment. This is regardless of where they ultimately live.

The adoptive family's income is reassessed annually by the finance section who send out review forms direct to them. The form must be returned to finance for the payment to continue.

Settling in and Introduction Grants

A settling in grant of up to £750 per child is paid to all adopters to help in the cost of buying equipment for their child. There must be reasons for these expenses and agreed in advance. Receipts must be submitted with the claim. All additional expenses must be authorised by the Service Manager, Adoption on Form CH/AD/ALL.2.

Reasonable expenditure is met to cover the introductions of a Nottingham City child with their adoptive parents. These include:

  • Petrol costs for travelling. A receipt for the petrol must be provided;
  • Hotel and some meal costs, if distance necessitates this. In most circumstances hotel arrangements are set up by the fostering and adoption social worker and these should always be discussed with the Service Manager, Fostering and Adoption, beforehand.

Court lodging fees are paid for by the department. The Service Manager, Fostering and Adoption considers the costs of the legal fees in any contested case.

One off payments

On occasion, higher amounts of grant, as a one-off payment, may be paid according to the particular needs of the child and the circumstances of the adopters.

In all cases the Service Manager, Fostering and Adoption must be consulted.

Foster Carer Adopters

Significant numbers of foster carers adopt the children in their care. In fostering there is an element of remuneration for caring for a child and there is a two year transition financial provision for those carers. Adoption allowances for foster carers will only be payable if the child meets the criteria above.

In these cases the gap between the levels of fostering allowances and adoption financial support will be phased in. In the first year payments will match existing fostering allowances. In the second year these will be reduced to 50% of the difference between the fostering allowance and whatever the regular adoption payment is assessed at. At the end of the second year transitional payments will cease.

Cessation of Financial Support

All financial support ceases to be payable to the adoptive parents if:

  • The child ceases to have a home with them;
  • The child stops full time education or training and starts employment;
  • The child qualifies for Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance in their own right;
  • The child becomes 18, unless they continue in full time education or training when it may continue until the end of this.

It is the responsibility of the adoptive parent to inform the department immediately of any changes that may affect their entitlement to financial support.


3. Post Order Support

Principles of Role of Post Adoption Team

Any regular ongoing financial support and agreed adoption allowance before an adoption order remains the permanent responsibility of the child's agency.

Other post order financial support is assessed by the Fostering and Adoption Service. It is provided to our authority's children for up to 3 years post Order or to any adopted child who is a city resident from 3 years after their Adoption Order.

If adopters make a request for any support, including financial support, a full Adoption Support Assessment is carried out (ASA) by a Social Worker in Fostering and Adoption.

For Nottingham City children placed outside the authority any additional funding pre-order would end after 3 years. If this needs to continue then the department alerts the authority where the child lives 6 months before the 3 years expire to allow time for the child's authority to complete their own ASA. Nottingham City will negotiate and discuss transfers and may meet with the authority to organise appropriate arrangements.

Criteria For Support

A financial assessment is completed by the Social Worker based on the adopter's income and outgoings. If the adopters are on benefits or the child is considered to have a disability, they are referred to Welfare Rights prior to any consideration of adoption financial support.

On occasion, where the finances of adopters are particularly complex, for example due to debt or mortgage arrears, then a full financial assessment may be requested by the social worker contacting finance. This will be on the same criteria as the pre-order support.

The principle criterion for considering financial support is always the child's needs.

Financial support payments are in the form of one off grants. They however may be made more than once, e.g. paying for a break scheme during school holidays.

All the requests for financial support payments are decided by the Service Manager, Fostering and Adoption, following the ASA and taking all circumstances into account.

If adopters are already in receipt of adoption support allowances and an additional request is made, then that is considered in the light of the finances already being paid or previously paid.

If there are specific health or education needs then those services should be approached by the adopters in the first instance and if necessary, with the help of a social worker who can negotiate on their behalf.

All payments are reviewed annually through the finance section and referred to the Service Manager, Fostering and Adoption, for a decision if the child's need is still ongoing.

Our Finance Department may alert the social worker of changes in the financial circumstances of adopters on occasion. This is then picked up by the social worker and an ASA may be completed.

Contact and Support

The financial support for contact is looked at separately from all other financial support, and does not require an ASA. There are no 'means testing' for the adopters for this but the principles for funding are:

  • Petrol costs for contact are paid;
  • Hotel costs may be covered, from the authority's approved list, if the return travel time and the meeting takes more than one day. Any child's age and health will be taken into consideration.

Finances may also be paid to the birth family or significant relatives to maintain contact.

End