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SEN and failed adoptions

View profile for Andrew Barrowclough
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A very worrying recent BBC news article simply titled ‘I sent my adopted son back into care’ has highlighted a number of significant failings in the UK adoption system.

The essential issue is that families are not supported appropriately post adoption from social services. There are many reasons for this but the most simplistic is that financially Local Authorities wish to and indeed have to cut costs as much as possible and therefore they do not fund essential services. Our specialist education law solicitors and social care lawyers often find that there is a failure to appreciate that ‘children in need’ under s.17 of the Children Act 1989 should receive services. The Adoption Support Fund figure of £5,000 means very little for a complex child who needs extensive social care support and educational support.

What the BBC News article fails to touch upon is the huge number of adopted children who also have special educational needs. Our SEN specialist solicitors currently act for a significant number of adoptive parents who are battling the education system in England and Wales to get their children the right support. Again the fundamental issue is money- it is expensive to assess, issue an EHCP and then fund the support that is required but legally the cost is irrelevant for disabled children. Even if the young person and family were therefore well supported at home (which is usually unlikely) then unless an EHCP is issued in England (or a statement in Wales) then the child is likely to still fail at school.

Statutory assessments, psychology assessments and EHCPs (or statements) for adopted children with FASD, Autism, ADHD or EBD are often essential. If a fuller understanding of the difficulties cognitively and emotionally that an adopted child has is in place, then that will no doubt lead to more positive outcomes. The Local Education Department is a key component of this process and without such an understanding it is unclear how effective social services can be even if they are fully committed.

Ultimately £5,000 is not going to pay for a £50,000 specialist autism day school that the child needs in order to get through their school days successfully.

Our specialist SEN solicitor team have many years experience of supporting adopted children get the right social care and educational support and we would be happy to discuss matters further with any concerned parents or advocates. Please do call us today at any of our nationwide offices.