Practice and Improvement Fund open for applications
Wednesday 20 April 2016

Today DfE has launched the first bidding round for the Practice and Improvement Fund that was announced in ‘Adoption – A Vision for Change’. The first round was opened today and the deadline for bids is noon on 3 June.

The fund aims to inspire the transformation of adoption services and those services that adopted children and families rely on at a regional and national level. It will help ensure that regional adoption agencies (RAAs) have practice excellence at their heart, with voluntary adoption agencies (VAAs) leading the way.

In recognition of this, this first round is specifically targeted at VAAs and other voluntary sector organisations to build on their unique role as leaders of practice excellence. The Minister for Children and Families, Edward Timpson, has previously made it clear that he sees a strong VAA presence as playing an important role in strengthening the adoption system, and the Fund offers exciting opportunities for agencies to develop and extend their expertise further. In the first round, DfE are particularly interested in bids from VAAs which will help them to develop their role as leaders in practice excellence within RAAs; to transform their business and build their capacity; and to develop products and services which can be marketed to RAAs and at national level.


DfE are looking for bids across three main areas:
1. Driving innovation in recruitment and matching;
2. Speeding up stable placements through the use of early placement schemes;
3. And filling gaps in the support for adoptive families.

They are interested in bids that extend existing excellent practice as well as those which develop and evaluate new approaches. You will be able to submit bids covering more than one area as well as bids which cut across several areas. The details can be found on


20 April 2016 – Fund opens for applications
3 June 2016 (noon) – Deadline for organisations to submit proposals to DfE
27 June onwards – Applications notified of results of bids
July 2016 – Work plans negotiated and agreed with successful bidders
By 29 July 2016 – Grant Funding Agreements agreed and signed
July/August 2016 – Funded activity begins


FAQs on Practice & Improvement Fund
What is the difference between the Practice & Improvement Fund and the Innovation Programme? Which should I bid for?
The Department for Education (DfE) launched the first wave of the Innovation Programme in October 2013 to act as a catalyst for developing more effective ways of supporting vulnerable children. The Programme is seeking to inspire whole system change so that in five years time we achieve:
•Better life chances for children receiving help from the social care system;
•Stronger incentives and mechanisms for innovation, experimentation and replication of successful new approaches; and
•Better value for money across children’s social care.

The second wave of the Programme launched in April has two priority themes “rethinking social care” and “supporting adolescents in transitioning to adulthood”.

If you have a proposal that you think might be more relevant to the broader objectives of the Innovation Programme please contact DfE with brief details of the proposals and they will give you a steer on which fund to bid for.

What is the minimum/maximum I can bid for?
There is no specific minimum or maximum amount of grant award, but DfE would not expect to fund any single bid over £500,000.

Can we get the money upfront?
The department will consider paying a small proportion of the funding upfront to successful organisations that would not otherwise have the means to deliver their project and will agree a suitable profile for the remaining funding. The department will claw back any money for which the organisation does not provide adequate evidence of being spent as agreed.

Why can’t RAAs apply
RAAs will be able to apply to later rounds of the fund.  We want RAAs to use the feedback from their transition plans to target future applications. The department is currently assessing transition plans and expects to provide feedback and decisions to RAAs in mid May.

RAAs will still be able to benefit from first round projects. VAAs applying in this round are encouraged to submit bids that will support the development of practice excellence within RAAs, and to develop products and services which can be marketed to RAAs and support national infrastructure.

When are rounds two and three?
Round two is planned for the autumn of 2016 and round three for the spring of 2017. Further details will be announced nearer the time.

Will VAAs be able to bid in rounds 2 and 3? Can an unsuccessful bidder from the 1st round submit a bid in later rounds?
Unsuccessful bidders from round one will be able to bid in later rounds.  Details of future rounds will be announced nearer the time.

Can I submit more than one application?

When will bidders know if they have been successful or not?
Bidders will be notified of results from w/c 27 June onwards and no later than 15 July 2016.