Why is this needed?
Since 2016 local authorities can now apply to the Adoption Support Fund (ASF) for therapeutic services to children subject to a Special Guardianship Order (SGO) and previously LAC. Commissioning and procuring the most appropriate services for an individual or group, in a timely and effective way, is key to supporting SGO placements. Local authorities may also wish to use their own funding to commission SGO support services.
“Regulation 4: Securing the provision of services
“29. Section 14F(9)(b) of the Act enables the local authority to arrange for special guardianship support services to be provided by another body.”
Thus far only 8% of applications to the Adoption Support have been made on behalf of SGO placements.
Examples of approaches currently being taken
ASPIRE has access to a resources team for procurement processes. A list of approved providers is kept to speed-up the process of providing therapeutic services.
ATV has a commissioning plan and support from a Strategic Commissioning Team. This includes the design and review of services, the commissioning of parenting support services and external therapy funded by the ASF. The contracts awarded are managed by Oxfordshire County Council’s Quality and Contracts Team ensuring that all providers meet minimum requirements. An Approved Provider List for therapy providers is in development. There is an external contract for the provision of training and support services to prospective adopters, approved adopters and SGs.
As well as commissioning therapeutic services, some local authorities commission wider services from the voluntary sector. The most common of these was the Kinship Connected service provided by Grandparents Plus.
The only two examples offered of good commissioning practice were provided by the two regional adoption agencies (RAAs) in the survey. However, all local authorities and RAAs should have access to procurement and commissioning advice, given the level of spending on adoption support and special guardianship services made possible by the ASF. With this infrastructure in place, it should not be difficult to include SG support services in the same arrangements. However, the lack of engagement of SG services with the ASF nationally indicates a wider lack of knowledge about the ASF as referenced in section 11, and perhaps a lack of capacity to undertake assessments and make applications.