The purpose of the interagency fee is to ensure that agencies receive adequate payment for the work involved in recruiting, assessing, preparing, approving and matching their adopters, and in supporting a child’s start in their adoptive family’s home. It is also intended to improve the process for matching children and adopters across agency boundaries, which is crucial for avoiding delay and ensuring the best possible match for a child. 

Over half of all children adopted, and almost 2 in 3 of children adopted with complex or special placement needs, are placed with adopters who were approved by a different agency.

Since 1992, CVAA has set the interagency fee for placement with a VAA, and reviewed and uplifted it when necessary to keep pace with rising costs.

In 2009, seminal research by Julie Selwyn, Joe Sempik, Peter Thurston and Dinithi Wijedasa (from the Hadley Centre for Adoption and Foster Care Studies, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol and the Centre for Child and Family Research, Loughborough University) found that the costs of placing a child with an adoptive family were around £35-37,000. At the time, VAAs were charging around £23,000 for a placement. In the ten years since the study, the fee has been raised to over £31,000; however, this still falls short of Selwyn et al.’s findings.

Current information on fee levels

The fee to place with any agency (voluntary or statutory) was £27,000 from 2011 to 2018. This ‘level playing field’ was agreed by ADCS, LGA and CVAA and supported the placement of thousands of children with adopters across the UK.

In June 2018, after consultation with our members, CVAA raised the fee for the first time in 7 years. ADCS and LGA did not feel able to agree to this increase; consequently there has not been a ‘level playing field’ since June 2018, and ASGLB data shows that children are now waiting longer for a placement. However, CVAA members continue to place 1 in 4 children for whom the plan is adoption.

CVAA raised the fee with the support of the VAAs because the value of the fee had been significantly eroded by inflation and was well below the cost of providing a placement. This was unsustainable for both the VAA sector and the wider adoption system.

Crucially, the previous fee level did not support the investment in adopter recruitment that is necessary given the current shortfall in adopters.

Celtic Nations

The current interagency fee levels apply to all English LAs or RAAs who are placing a child with a VAA in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. They also apply to all statutory agencies across the UK who are placing a child with an English, Scottish or Irish VAA.

Wales: The 2018 fee increase for Welsh VAAs was implemented from 1st October 2018, following consultation and agreement between CVAA, Welsh Local Authorities and the National Adoption Service for Wales. The fee structure in Wales will come into line with England beginning on 1 April 2020.

Scotland: All Scottish VAAs adhere to the same interagency fee structure as agencies in England. In March 2019, the Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd MSP, wrote to all statutory agencies endorsing the fee structure which is in place in England. The adoption sector in Scotland reached a consensus to maintain a standard interagency fee, and there was also recognition that costs have risen since the fee was last set in 2011.

Northern Ireland: The VAA in Northern Ireland adheres to the same interagency fee structure as agencies in England.