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£8m emergency support for adoptive families during COVID-19

Emergency support is being offered to adoptive families by the government amid the outbreak of COVID-19.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson has announced up to £8 million of funding to pay for online counselling and couples therapy through the Adoption Support Fund to help families meet the needs of children arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “We are taking urgent action to protect the country from the spread of coronavirus, meaning many of us have seen changes in our daily lives as we practice social distancing and stay at home. For adoptive families, often still adjusting to their new environments, this may create additional strain.

“That is why today I am freeing up £8 million from our Adoption Support Fund to pay for therapies that will help families to cope in this uncertain time,” he added.

The funding will fund different types of therapeutic support for families whose adopted children may have already suffered trauma and be made more anxious owing to the uncertainty of the effects of the virus.

Local authorities and regional adoption agencies can use the funding to pay for activities such as virtual peer to peer support, access to helplines, couples therapy and online counselling, given the social distancing measures that have been brought in by the government to try and prevent the spread of the disease.

Adoptive families have reported experiencing greater stress due to children with attachment and trauma needs being isolated at home and having their routine disrupted, which can lead to an increase in adoption breakdown and child to parent violence.

Local authorities and regional adoption agencies will have discretion to spend their share of the money on the support that adoptive families in their areas need most at this time. It aims to help fill gaps in provision caused by the impact of COVID-19, including where local authority staff are unable to attend work due to sickness or self-isolation.

The Department for Education has published guidance for professionals working in children’s social care to help them meet the needs of their families safety and effectively during the COVID-19 outbreak. Adoption can still take place, with Regional Adoption Agencies using technology to continue the process.

The Department for Education has spent more than £150 million on the Adoption Support Fund since it was launched in 2015, helping more than 45,000 adoptive and special guardianship order families across the country.

Andrew Christie, Chair of the Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board, said: “I wholeheartedly welcome this news. Many adopters and special guardians are struggling during the current crisis and this funding will help provide much needed support for them and their families during these difficult times.”

The £8 million will fund the temporary COVID-19 scheme.

The funding comes after the government announced that it would make £1.6 billion available for local authorities to manage the impact of COVID-19, including on children’s services.

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