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6.12 Adoption Finance

PURPOSE

To ensure that both staff and adopters have accurate information about the financial support in adoption.

To ensure that adequate financial support is available in the adoption process.

To ensure prompt and correct payment of allowances for the benefit of adopters, children and the department.

RANGE

This procedure covers the following:

  • Financing family finding activity;
  • Financing placement planning and introductions;
  • Initial Adoption Grants;
  • Financial Support to Adopters;
  • Legal costs;
  • Post adoption specific grants.

RELATED CHAPTERS

This chapter should be read in conjunction with Adoption Support Services Procedure


Contents

  1. Financing Family Finding
  2. Criteria for Financial Support to Adopters
  3. Financing Placement Planning Introductions
  4. Initial Adoption Grants
  5. Regular Financial Support to Adopters
  6. Post Adoption Specific Grants
  7. Financing Legal Costs


1. Financing Family Finding

When it has not been possible to identify a carer to meet the needs of a child/ren from within the Authority's register of carers (or the Regional Consortium) a written Family Finding Action Plan should be drawn up (see Family Finding Procedure).

A copy of the Family Finding Plan and the proforma Application for Finance - Family Finding Costs (AD-12i) should be completed by the child's social worker and the prospective adopters' adoption worker.

The Plan and Application for Finance should be submitted to the Team Manager, Adoption for approval. The plan should indicate which interagency fees are being requested (voluntary/other Local Authorities).

On receipt of the authorised application the agreed plan will be implemented by the child's social worker and the prospective adopters' adoption worker.

The Locality Services Administration Manager, Ovenden (Adoption) will require a copy of the authorised application in order to raise the necessary orders/cheque requisitions.


2. Criteria for Financial Support to Adopters

The circumstances in which provision of financial support may be paid to adopters are as follows:

  1. Where it is necessary to ensure that adoptive parents can look after a child;
  2. Where the child needs special care which requires a greater expenditure of resources by reason of illness, disability, emotional or behavioural difficulties or the continuing consequences of neglect - and the child's condition is serious and long-term;
  3. Where it is necessary for the local authority to make any special arrangements to facilitate the placement or the adoption by reason of the age or ethnic origin of the child or the desirability of the child being placed with siblings or a child with whom he/she has previously shared a home;
  4. Where such support is to meet the recurring costs of travel for visits for the child to members of the birth family/significant others;
  5. Where the local authority considers it appropriate to contribute towards expenditure on legal costs, including Court fees (in cases where the adoption is supported by the local authority), or expenses associated with the child's introduction to adoptive parents or expenditure on accommodating the child (e.g. adaptations to the home, furniture, clothing or transport).

Financial support is intended to supplement existing means of support available to adoptive parents and the child or children being adopted. Adopters must be given advice of entitlements to employee’s rights to leave and pay, benefits, tax credits and allowances, and these should be taken into account when considering amounts of financial support.


3. Financing Placement Planning Introductions

Calderdale MBC will pay actual transport costs for introductory visits and attendance at Planning Meetings etc. for prospective adopters who are having a Calderdale child placed with them. Calderdale MBC will also pay any overnight accommodation required by the planning process at a maximum in line with Local Government subsistence rates.

An amount of up to £500 may be advanced to the prospective adopter/s to assist in paying for accommodation and travel expenses. No further amounts will be advanced until all receipts have been submitted.

The prospective adopter(s) must complete an Application Form (AD-12ii) and submit to the Calderdale Adoption Worker.

NB: The application should reflect the planning and introductions agreed at the Adoption Placement Planning Meeting.

The form must also be signed by the Adoption Worker who should check its accuracy in terms of costs or estimated costs.

If authorised, the form should be endorsed and coded by the Team Manager, Adoption and passed to Accounts to arrange payment by cheque directly to the adopters. A copy is to remain on the adopter's file.

Should the introductory plans not go as anticipated, the Adoption Worker should submit an amended Application Form (clearly marked AMENDED APPLICATION).

The Team Manager, Adoption will authorise additional payment or reclaim expenses as required.

The original Application Form should go to Accounts Section, Accounts and a copy of the authorised application to the Adoption Worker.

The Adoption Worker will be responsible for notifying Accounts Section of the timing of payments.


4. Initial Adoption Grants

Aim

In some circumstances it will be necessary to make additional grants in order to make adoption placements.

Examples of some issues which may require finance are:

  • Purchase of new school uniform;
  • Equipment (bedding, bedroom furniture);
  • Adaptations to accommodation.

This is most likely to apply in circumstances involving the placement of older children, sibling groups, and children with health needs requiring adaptations to the physical environment.

Eligibility:

  1. The child/ren to be placed meet the criteria for financial support; and
  2. The adopter is eligible for financial support; or
  3. The Head of Children's Social Care may, in exceptional circumstances, authorise initial adoption grants if not making the payments would be contrary to the best interests of the child/ren being placed for adoption.

The Adoption Worker and adopter(s) should complete the Application Form (AD-12iii). Itemised estimates in relation to costs should be attached.

The Team Manager, Adoption may authorise amounts up to £1,000, where eligibility criteria i and ii are met.

Amounts over £1,000 should be forwarded to the Head of Children's Social Care/Operations Manager for authorisation.

Where the request is made under the "exceptional circumstances" eligibility clause, the matter should be referred to the Head of Children's Social Care. A report from the Social Worker which evidences why the grant is in the child's best interests should be presented jointly with a report from the Adoption Worker which outlines the family's financial situation. Both reports should identify the reasons for the payment of the grant, and should be attached to the form AD-12(iii).

The report to Head of Children's Social Care must be supported and signed by the Team Manager and the Operations Manager.

The Locality Services Administration Manager, Ovenden (Family Placements) will require a copy of the authorised application in order to raise the necessary orders/cheque requisitions.


5. Regular Financial Support to Adopters

See Section 2, Criteria for Financial Support to Adopters.

Every child should be considered for regular financial support and the criteria consulted both in terms of the child's current and anticipated needs.

Where regular financial support is considered appropriate, the amount to be paid to adoptive parents will be determined by an assessment of their means. This will take account of the adopters' income and resources (excluding their home), reasonable outgoings and commitments, and the financial needs and resources of the child.

The means assessment is done by the Benefits Assessments Unit.

The prospective adopter(s) should be provided with form BAU1 (assessment form). Stocks of these are held by each locality team, and can be re-ordered from Benefits Assessment Administration. The form is changed annually and circulated to locality teams.

It is essential that the coloured box at the top right of page one of the form be marked ADOPTION ALLOWANCE before it is given to the adopter.

The adopter should be advised that it is important to complete the form in full, especially Box 2 on page 6, which asks for mortgage, council tax and water rates information.

The ages and numbers of children to be placed must be shown on the form. Names need not be given but initials will help the Benefits Assessment team keep proper records.

The completed form should be sent by the adopter(s) or the Adoption Worker to the Finance Department at the address shown at the end of the form marked For the attention of Benefits Assessment Officer - Adoption Allowance).

The Benefits Assessment Section need to know the name and location of the Adoption Worker for each assessment. They can be notified by phone while the assessment form is being completed if they are not already known through preliminary discussions.

A copy of the assessment outcome will be sent to the Adoption Worker as soon as the assessment has been completed.

Appeals against assessment should be notified by the adopter(s) to the Adoption Worker. The adoption worker should inform the Benefits Assessment Section

Before financial support is payable the adopter(s) must have agreed to:

a. Inform the adoption agency immediately if
  1. The child no longer has his or her home with them, if they have changed their address, or if the child dies; or
  2. There is any change in their financial circumstances or the financial needs or resources of the child; and
b. Complete and supply the adoption agency with an annual statement of their financial circumstances and the financial circumstances of the child.

This agreement must be in writing and kept on the file.

Adopter(s) is/are required to complete the financial assessment review form sent to them directly by Benefits Assessment before the beginning of each financial year.

It is important for adopters to complete the financial assessment review form in full as circumstances change from year to year. Failure to do so could result in the allowance being stopped.

When the placement is made

As soon as the date of placement is known or a decision has been made to change the status of a placement to an adoptive placement, the Accounts Office should be notified in writing, by E-Mail or memo of:

  1. The date the payment of financial support was approved and written confirmation of the approval;
  2. Date of placement OR change of type of placement to adoptive placement;
  3. Names and address of adopter(s);
  4. Name(s) of child(ren).

Computer records must be brought up to date, i.e.:

  • A change of legal status must always be entered on the relevant computer records, even if the placement address remains the same;
  • The name, personal details and address of the adopters must be entered on the relevant computer records if they are not already on the system. This is important, as allowances cannot be made until this is done.

The adopter(s) should be advised by letter at this stage:

  1. That Benefits Assessment should be notified in writing of any changes of address, income and outgoings;
  2. From what date payments will start;
  3. That there will be an annual reassessment carried out by Benefits Assessment of adopter(s) who are in receipt of an adoption allowance.


6. Post Adoption Specific Grants

Aim

  1. There are some circumstances in which particular ongoing financial support may have been agreed as part of an individual child's placement plan. For example, costs relating to Post Adoption contact;
  2. There may be exceptional circumstances when an adopter(s) would need to seek financial support for a specific issue, which was not identified at the time of placement.

Eligibility

  1. Adopter(s) are in receipt of Adoption Allowance; or
  2. The Head of Children's Social Care may in exceptional circumstances also authorise Post Adoption specific grants at his/her discretion.

For financial costs identified and agreed to be supported Post Adoption, the Adoption Worker will set up a Post Adoption file containing all the relevant information.

The adopter(s) should complete form AD-12v and forward to the Family Placement Team. The claim should be made before the costs are incurred.

The Adoption Worker will check the form, which will be authorised by the Manager Adoption Team for costs agreed in the placement plan. Other requests need to go to the Head of Children's Social Care for his/her approval.

The original is sent to Accounts Section for payment.

The copy is put on the Post Adoption File.


7. Financing Legal Costs

Calderdale MBC will pay the cost of lodging adoption applications in the relevant Court. 

7.1 Procedure

The adopter(s) should complete form AD-12iv Part 1 and forward this to the Adoption Worker. This should be received by Calderdale MBC before the application is lodged.

The Adoption Worker should check the form is accurately completed and forward to the Team Manager, Adoption for authorisation.

The Adoption Worker forwards the original to Accounts Section. A copy is placed on the adopters file.

Accounts Section arranges payment for costs of lodging application to the adopters.

7.2 Costs Arising from Direct Applications

Eligibility:

Calderdale MBC supports the lodging of the application

The adopter(s) complete(s) AD-12iv (Part 1) and forward to the Adoption Worker.

The Adoption Worker completes part 2 and forwards the form to the Team Manager, Adoption for authorisation. A copy of the authorised form to be placed on the adopters file and the original to Accounts Section.

Upon confirmation the Adoption Worker confirms in writing to the adopter(s) that the authorised limit is a maximum of £1,000 in legal fees. This notification must clearly state that it is the responsibility of the adopters to seek authorisation from Calderdale MBC for any amounts over £1,000 IN ADVANCE (see appendix AD-12viii standard letter).

Upon receipt of the invoice from the adopter's Legal Adviser, the adopter(s) and Adoption Worker need to sign the invoice to confirm "goods received". It should then be forwarded to the Team Manager, Adoption for authorisation.

The Team Manager, Adoption authorises the invoice and forwards it to the Accounts Section for payment.

The Accounts Section arranges payment of the invoice, having checked this against their copy of the AD-12 (iv). 

However, in the unlikely event of legal costs exceeding £1,000, prior to the expenditure being authorised the Adoption Worker/Social Worker should seek advice from the department's Legal Adviser as to whether the costs are reasonable.

The outcome of this discussion should be confirmed in writing by the Legal Adviser.

If the costs are reasonable the above procedure should apply but the authorising officer will be the Head of Children's Social Care and a copy of the memo from the Legal Adviser should be attached to the application.

End