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Adoption and Special Guardianship Support

At Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) we provide a range of services aimed to offer the right level of support at the right time for our adoptive, birth, and SGO families.

Our aim, therefore, is to provide timely support and expertise for adoptive, birth and SGO families post order underpinned by a Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) PACEful approach proportionate to the level of need. The aim being to empower families to go on to help themselves having utilised the clear service pathway. We hold considerable expertise within our service with professionals trained in a multitude of attachment focused developmental trauma informed interventions and approaches that go to specifically to support the recovery from trauma most notably utilising the Trauma Recovery Model, DDP informed techniques, Circle of Security, the BUSS Model, and Theraplay.

Universal Services – Information, Signposting & Training

There are various parts of our therapeutic service that is open to all. We encourage families to contact us early as no issue seen as too small. To this end, we’re here to support in several ways:

  • Providing Information and advice from specialist workers where needed including Letterbox Coordinators, Duty Social Workers, and our Birth Relatives Outreach Counsellor.
  • Support from our duty Social Workers ensuring families reach the often wide ranging support they need in a timely way.
  • Signposting to relevant and helpful groups and organisations including within the wider Local Authority, charities and specialist organisations.
  • Offering groups for our adoptive families and signposting to already existing local groups for SGO families with whom we have close links

A tiered approach to support services:

It is our aim to empower parents/carers by providing the right level of support when needed. It will always be our aim to support families to access the services and support immediately available which is sustainable and will include from family and local support networks as well as universal community support alongside our specialist offer as an RAA. We recognise however that over time, the level of need families experience means that more targeted support is needed, and we are here to ensure that we support families to accessing this.

To ensure that we offer the right level of support to as many families as possible we offer a tiered system of support which is easy to understand. This is described below.

Whenever families feel like support is needed, they can access our Information and Advice duty line by phone or by sending us an email.

From here we triage the best response in line with the need presented. We can listen, advise and signpost including to specialist workers in the team for a brief consultation. We can offer more in-depth consultations with the duty Social Worker. We will help families to think about where support can be accessed - family & friends, peer support or community universal services including school, health, safeguarding or Early Help services.

Our website is easily accessible and contains information, guidance, resources, and links to other support organisations. A great first point of call for support which includes news alerts and regular updates on interesting developments in research and practice.

We may signpost families to access one of our training seminars where available, a training course or our parent/ carer support groups which we know many of our families appreciate making supportive connections. The duty Social Worker will be aware of what’s available and upcoming in time.

Seminars include:

  • Theraplay
  • PACEful parenting
  • Parenting Children recovering from early life trauma
  • Life Story Work
  • Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) – an Introduction
  • Sensory Processing and Developmental Trauma
  • Parenting Adopted Teens

We are also here to continue to offer advice and guidance to support on-going contact arrangements between adoptive and birth family members whilst administering the exchange of correspondence via our Letterbox team.

For adopted adults we provide birth records counselling and support to access adoption records and can provide advice & guidance when an Intermediary service is being sought

For birth parents we offer Birth Relative Outreach Worker – a counsellor who supports birth relatives impacted by adoption.

It may be that further discussion with a qualified Adoption and SGO Support Social Worker may be helpful and if so, families are asked to complete a referral to access this that is sent to our duty Social Workers. We aim to allocate families to a Social Worker as quickly as possible but there can be a wait of up to four months as busy times. Whilst waiting, to best assist families, our duty Social Workers aim to offer services in Tier 1. Families are then invited meet with a Social Worker for an in-depth Initial Assessment appointment to assess the adoption/SGO need. This will be an opportunity to discuss with an allocated social worker the challenges being faced, to reflect on what may be going on and why, and together consider the presenting adoption and SGO support needs. The Social Worker then either brings the families situation to our Team Consultation weekly meeting to develop a formulation and recommendations or this is done directly with the Team Manager depending on need. We will always look to be wholly transparent about our formulation, identify the most sustainable and empowering support resources for families deciding alongside the best way forward. Recommendations will often involve the parent/carer given relational trauma requires relational repair and we work with parents/carers adaptively to time that support when they’re ready.

Following assessment, a plan of support may be drawn from Tier 1 Universal Services and/or Tier two provision to meet specific needs. If Tier 2 provision is required families will have an Adoption/SGO Support Plan updated within the context of their assessment which is reviewed periodically at a frequency agreed in a bespoke way with the family and professionals. If it is assessed and agreed that an application should be made to the Adoption Support Fund (ASF) to fund a therapeutic piece of work, once facilitated, progress of the work will be monitored as a team and a Social Worker will be invited to attend a final/continuation review meeting. The Social Worker allocated to the family is closed once ASF approval comes through and all parties informed. Families can always check-in with the duty Social Worker where required.

Tier 2 support could include:

  • Access to Individual consultation with an Adoption Support Social Worker for an Initial Assessment
  • Possible referral to a short therapeutic course, including
    • Foundations for Attachment
    • PCAP (Parent Child Attachment through Play)
    • TCI (Therapeutic Crisis Intervention)
  • Specialist therapeutic support via application to the Adoption Support Fund commissioned

Following consultation and assessment (Tier 2), if more intense or targeted support is required this will be reviewed by the Team Manager who will make the decision as to whether a Social Worker should be allocated to carry out a specific piece of work. Families do not have an allocated Social Worker if they are not currently having an Initial Assessment or a piece of specific support. If the Initial Assessment needs updating during the course of working with a family, they will do so and agree outcomes through regular reviews.

Whilst we recognise that during difficult times it can feel an added support having an allocated social worker, our aim is always to empower families to be able to support themselves with the right knowledge, skills, and tools. We will therefore work with families to support sustainable change with the aim of stepping down to a lower Tier support when it is safe and appropriate to do so. We also close families when there a level of need may remain, but we may suggest a family had a period allowing our recommendations to settle in, to try it out, and to ‘be’ as a family without professional oversight. At times, our recommendations perhaps won’t align with a parent/carers view of how change can occur and it’s important to respect those differences and not cause harm to families who aren’t in a place to access the support currently. Families can always come back to us when they feel their need has heightened.

Tier 3 support could look like:

  • Therapeutic parenting consultations
  • Therapeutic Life Story Work
  • Coordinating the professional network in complex cases where there is not already a lead professional and assisting with identifying a lead professional if future professional meetings are required
  • 1:1 session with a child
  • Dyadic parent child sessions to work on the relationship

Our team are here to assess and support your Adoption/ SGO support needs. Should safeguarding concerns develop or be identified at any time we will refer to the relevant social care/ MASH (safeguarding) team in the Local Authority in which you live.

We will continue to be available to support any adoption related needs in relation to the Tier involvement we are currently offering, keeping our involvement open to Tier review if required, and will provide advice and consultation to the Local Authority social care teams as needed.

You can contact us using our duty email in the first instance

Information and Advice Line: 01480 379679

Adoption and Special Guardianship Allowances

There is financial support available to adopters and special guardians and Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Adoption support with implementing these allowances.
These documents provide additional information about what support is available.
If you have secured an Adoption Order or Special Guardianship Order, please contact the finance teams direct and they will help answer your queries.

If you child was placed by Peterborough City Council please contact

If you child was placed by Cambridgeshire County Council please contact

In other circumstances, please discuss this with your Social Worker who will support you through the process.

The Adoption Support Fund (ASF)

Information for Families

The adoption support fund (ASF) provides funds to local authorities and regional adoption agencies (RAAs) to pay for essential therapeutic services for eligible adoptive and special guardianship order (SGO) families.

For more information go to Adoption support fund (ASF) - GOV.UK (

Support Groups

We host a number of Adoption Support Groups across the region where families can come together and share experiences.

For information contact:

Post box

Letterbox contact is a formal arrangement for Birth Relatives and Adoptive Families to share information. This is a confidential service. If you have any questions or queries about initiating or existing Letterbox arrangements, please contact if your child is from Cambridgeshire; or if your child is from Peterborough, please contact

Local authorities (LAs) and Regional Adoption Agencies (RAAs) can apply for therapeutic funding for eligible adoptive and special guardianship order families. The process looks like this:

  1. Approach us and ask for an assessment of your child’s adoption support needs. The ASF require an up-to-date assessment within three months of application to the fund. Our duty social worker will be able to discuss with you if you might meet that eligibility criteria over the phone/email.

Duty 01480 379679

  1. If you are eligible, you will be asked to complete a referral form to our service. Upon receipt your family will be placed on a waiting list until a social worker is able to undertake the assessment.
  2. When we assess your family, we consider if therapeutic support is needed, the type required and if it is eligible for payments from the fund. We do this as part of a team consultation. We aim to provide you with that decision and the options available in writing within twenty-eight days of assessment.
  3. The Social Worker will support your family to look at what therapeutic support is available in your area and liaise with therapists to determine their capacity to undertake the work. We very much rely on therapists to get back to us in a timely way in order to process your application.
  4. If in-house social work support is identified, you will remain open to the social worker whilst that piece of work is being undertaken. This might include a piece of work around therapeutic parenting, or life story for example. When this work concludes you will be closed to the social worker, but your family would remain open to the team who would oversee the commissioned piece of work until conclusion.
  5. Once a therapist is identified and all information is provided for the application your Social Worker will complete the application to the fund within one week
  6. We apply directly to the ASF on your behalf. The ASF takes six to eight weeks to provide us with their decision. Support cannot begin until we have this approval.
  7. Upon approval, it is for the family and the therapist to arrange, plan, schedule and communicate around that intervention. It is a commissioned piece of work separate from the Adoption Support and Special Guardianship Team.
  8. Should the ASF not approve the application the social worker will liaise with you to consider next steps.
  9. The ASF provides funding to us upon request following the therapist invoicing us for payment.
  10. If you need a continuation of therapy, we ask therapists to give us six weeks’ notice of this need and bear in mind the ASF turnaround time to ensure there is not a gap in therapy. The therapist sending us their review report triggers the review. You will be included in this process.
  11. If you are not in agreement with our assessment and recommendations, you are able to talk with our Team Manager in the first instance or appeal using the Local Authority complaints procedures which can be provided to you.

A Specialist Assessment that meets all of the criteria below:

    • An in-depth assessment of the child and family’s needs with a focus on trauma and attachment, and how this demonstrates the links to the assessment of support needs.
    • Led and undertaken by a qualified clinician(s). For the purposes of the ASF, a qualified clinician would be someone who diagnoses and treats patients; is suitably qualified and is licensed to practice via a regulator such as the Health and Care Professional Council e.g. a trained Clinical Psychologist or Attachment Psychotherapist.
    • Result in a therapeutic support plan for the child(ren) / family.

Interventions such as those listed below:

  • Training for adoptive parents
    Therapeutic parenting courses, for example, Foundations for Attachment
  • Multi-Disciplinary packages of support where healing trauma is the primary focus
  • Psychotherapy
  • Attachment therapy
  • Solution Focussed brief therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for the child
  • Brain mapping
  • Systemic Family Therapy
  • Video Interaction Guidance
  • Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
  • Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy.
    Integrative method of psychotherapy developed for the treatment of children and young people who manifest serious psychological problems associated with complex trauma and serious failure to establish secure patterns of attachment.
  • Theraplay
    Interactive play between child/young person and parent to strengthen the parent-child attachment. Sessions guided by a therapist.
  • Filial therapy
    Specific type of play therapy where the parent usually conducts the session.
  • Creative Therapies
  • Play therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Drama therapy
  • Lego therapy
  • Dance Movement Therapy
  • MIM - Marschak Interaction Method which is a Theraplay assessment
  • Story stem is in scope when part of an application for therapy where the Story Stem is used as a measurement tool.
  • Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
    Psychological treatment method which stimulates the brain to reduce intensity of distressing memories, for example a therapist asking a child to move their eyes from left to right to stimulate blocked information.
  • Sensory Integration Therapy
  • Sensory Attachment Intervention
  • Non-violent resistance training. A psychological approach for overcoming destructive, aggressive, controlling and risk-taking behaviour.
  • Crisis Intervention Training
  • Therapeutic life story work
  • Life story work with a therapeutic intervention

Some ‘small print’

Therapy such as those mentioned above can be agreed when:

  • provided as part of a short break, course or package.
  • when commissioned pre-adoption but the child is in placement and delivery extends post-adoption order. In these cases, the child’s Social care social worker undertakes the assessment which is overseen by an Adoption Manager. The same time schedules apply.
  • the child is under a section 20 order where the plan is for the child to be reunited with their adoptive parents.

The following are not in scope of the Fund:

    • Standalone assessments for single conditions, e.g. ADHD, FASD, autism, sensory integration, unless they are part of a wider specialist assessment which meets the criteria for the Specialist Assessment FAL i.e. are in depth, covering trauma and attachment, led and undertaken by a qualified clinician and resulting in a therapeutic support plan.
    • Standalone specialist assessments, including any baselining specialist assessments, are also out of scope of the Therapy Fair Access Limit.
    • A general social work assessment of adoption/SGO support needs remains the responsibility of the local authority/regional adoption agency.
    • Individual therapy for parents

Contact the ASF

For up to date information, if you have any queries, or you might want to check the eligibility criteria please refer to the Government ASF website here Adoption support fund (ASF) - GOV.UK (

The team can also be contacted by way of email and telephone below.


Telephone: 01223 463 517

Contact Us

For information about our Adoption & Special Guardianship Support Services, contact our us at:

01480 379679

For information about Support Groups

Contact our Support Group team at:

All Other Enquiries

For all other enquiries, please contact us at: