Special Guardianship Assessments to Change

Special Guardianship Orders are usually made for family members of a child/children when they cannot be cared for by their parents. Special Guardians have parental responsibility for the child, and this will last until the child is 18. The child’s parent will continue to have parental responsibility for the child, but the Special Guardian’s parental responsibility will take priority. This means that if the parents and the Special Guardian disagree over a decision regarding the child, the Special Guardian’s view will prevail.

Before a Special Guardianship Order can be made, there needs to be a Special Guardianship assessment before the Court. These assessments usually take up to 3 months to complete, but in certain circumstances, will be completed in a shorter period of time if necessary.

The Department of Education has recently published a report reviewing Special Guardianship Orders. The report found that there are currently some problems with these orders. Some of the problems are:

  • Rushed or poor quality assessments – this can happen where family members come forward late in care proceedings, which can mean that assessments take place very quickly in order to meet Court timescales. It can also be a problem when an assessment is not thorough enough and so the family member asks to be reassessed again.
  • Potentially risky placements being made – in many cases, a Supervision Order is made at the same time as the Special Guardianship Order. A Supervision Order means Social Services remain involved with the child. This may be because there remains some doubt about the Special Guardians’ ability to care for the child long-term. A Supervision Order may also be made where the Special Guardian is someone with whom the child has not lived with before, or had much of a relationship with.
  • Inadequate support for Special Guardians – this can include both before and after placements are finalised. This can include the Special Guardian not receiving enough advice about what being a Special Guardian means, and not receiving any support from Social Services once the order has been made.

This review may mean that Special Guardianship assessments and the support offered to Special Guardians will change.

At Emery Johnson Astills, the care team have a wealth of experience in cases where Special Guardianship Orders have been, or may be made. If Social Services are involved with your family and have recommended the making of a Special Guardianship, you can contact Emery Johnson Astills care department on 0116 255 2855.

Alternatively, Emery Johnson Astills family department can also assist if you are considering applying for a Special Guardianship Order.

If you would like to read the report from the Department of Education, you can do so at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/487243/SGR_Final_Combined_Report.pdf