Assessing children and families for adoption support in England front cover

Assessing children and families for adoption support in England


The importance of adoption support is well established. Appropriate and timely support can make a hugely positive difference to the lives of adopted children who have been affected by loss, neglect or maltreatment. It can make a significant difference to the lives of their families too. But the effectiveness of adoption support is in part dependent on the quality of assessments.

This practice guide aims to enhance the quality of post-order adoption support assessments, and thereby improve outcomes and well-being for adopted children and families. It will help social work practitioners to carry out assessments that are informed by the best available evidence and practice wisdom. It brings together findings from research and evaluation of adopted children and families’ lived experiences, and expert practitioner and academic advice from disciplines including child psychiatry and psychology.

The example form for adoption support assessment and associated charts featured in this book are free to download.

Who is this book for?

This is a valuable, practical resource for social workers and managers in England who assess the post-order support needs of adopted children and families. It will also be of interest to professionals in education and children’s mental health, who contribute to these assessments. 

What will you find in this book?

The guide includes information on:

  • the principles that should underpin adoption support assessments;
  • the key stages of the assessment process, as determined by the statutory framework for adoption support;
  • key questions to be addressed during assessments;
  • the Adoption and Special Guardianship Fund (ASGSF) and broader adoption policy context in England;
  • a range of influences on assessment, including practice approaches, and models and frameworks from other children and family services;
  • recent innovations in adoption support service models and assessment;
  • the use of structured screening and assessment tools and therapeutic interventions;
  • how to support assessing workers to meet the challenges of their roles and encourage reflective practice.

The guide is also a response to an increasing desire within the sector to “reimagine” assessments in the context of the ASGSF. It explores and promotes the view that assessments should be thought of as the start of therapeutic family interventions, as they were in the past, rather than simply a means to ensuring future ASGSF access.

Read the contents pages and introduction.


Caroline Thomas is an independent research consultant. She has over 30 years’ experience of conducting, commissioning and managing child-related, family welfare policy-related and practice-related research. She was Academic Coordinator for the Department for Education in England’s Adoption Research Initiative in the 2000s, and author of the 2013 overview of the Initiative’s findings, Adoption for Looked After Children: Messages from research. In 2017, Caroline synthesised the research evidence for the sector-led Care Crisis Review in England. She is a member of the European Research Council’s Expert Panel for the ethical review of research proposals.

John Simmonds is Director of Policy, Research and Development at CoramBAAF. Before starting at BAAF, he was head of the social work programmes at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He has substantial experience in child protection, family placement and residential care settings. John was a member of the Department for Education’s Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board. He was awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours list 2015 and an honorary doctorate in Education from the Tavistock NHS Foundation Trust/University of East London. In 2018, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the National Adoption Week awards.


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