Special Guardianship

Family Enjoying A Day At The Park

Since being put in place in 2002 Special Guardianship Orders provide an alternative option to adoption and fostering. These orders are different to an adoption order in that they provide the guardian parental responsibility for the child until they turn 18. 

In addition to bridging the gap between adoption and fostering, special guardianship orders are also preferable for a number of other reasons:

  • if the child is in the care of a family member. This family member may not wish to adopt the child, but would like to have control over their welfare, and decisions made which affect it
  • when an unaccompanied child has moved to the UK and is in need of the safety of a home environment a special guardianship order allows for this
  • for some ethnic minorities their religious faith and/or tradition conflicts with the concept of adoption 

The process of Special Guardianship Orders, and how they work

The procedure of establishing special guardianship orders varies between each local authority, though there are some fundamental steps. An applicant must provide their local authority with a minimum warning of three months of their intention to apply. A report is produced by the local authority covering all the details about the child, including whether or not they believe it is in the child’s interest for the special guardianship order to be approved. The report is seen by the court after the application for special guardianship has been submitted. The final decision lies with the court, with the conclusion aiming to be the most beneficial to the child.

What support are special guardians entitled to?

A part of the legislative framework known as the special guardianship regulations 2005 relates largely to the support services local authorities are required to provide for those with special guardianship status. The special guardianship regulations 2005 state the circumstances in which financial support is payable and how local authorities come to decide the amount. Regulations allow for financial support for the special guardians in cases where the care of the child has been with the local authority. In cases where the local authority has not been involved in the care of the child, then no financial support is available to the special guardians.

Changes to the Special Guardianship Order

Special Guardianship Orders are allowed to be changed, unlike an Adoption Order, while the child is under the age of 18. Once a child has turned 18 the special guardianship order will come to an end. The order can only be changed by certain people and in cases where there have been considerable changes in circumstances from the time when the order was originally made.

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