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Special Guardianship Information

Welcome to SGO Info –

One home for everything to do with Special Guardianship

What is SGO Info's aim?

 SGO Info’s aim is to give Special Guardianship assessment a voice.

What will SGO Info do?

SGO Info’s aim is to raise awareness of  Special Guardianship. So that there will be better support and access to resources for special guardianship families and social workers supporting them.

What will SGO Info Provide?

 SGO Info’s aim is to provide information about all aspects of Special Guardianship, to keep you updated in this exciting developing area of social work.

What Is Special Guardianship…

When a child is looked after by the Local Authority, Kinship or Connected Persons care should be the first choice that social workers look towards.

They must give family and friends priority when deciding where a child should live when they cannot live safely with their parents.

Social workers should apply the principle ‘when nothing else will do’ before making huge life changing decisions for children, such as adoption.

You will come across several terms being used within the field of Kinship care sometimes you will hear it being called Connected Persons Care or Family and Friends Care which mean the same thing. Kinship care can also be care by Special Guardians.

There are two main ways that family members can become a carer for a child in their family:-

One route is as a Special Guardianship carer and

the other is as a Family and Friends Foster Carer/Connected Persons Carer. 

What is the difference between Special Guardianship and Connected Persons?

They are both achieving the same purpose; they are caring for a child who is a member of their family. The key difference is the legislation that is behind these two ways of ensuring that a child is cared for in their family.

Special Guardianship carers are assessed under the Special Guardianship Regulations 2005 and February 2016.

Connected Persons come under the Fostering Regulations and are also called Family and Friends Foster Carers.

 

SGO Info

Special Guardianship Info - Why It's Needed

All over the UK, children are being cared for under Special Guardianship Orders, but many people have never heard of this form of caring.

Everyone has heard of fostering or adoption, yet Special Guardianship is growing rapidly as a preferred option for families.

Special Guardianship is the middle ground between adoption and fostering.

Special Guardianship allows children to stay connected with their family of origin retaining their sense of identity.

SGO Info – Raising Awareness

Number of SGO's Granted in 2006

Number of SGO's Granted in 2015

Principles of SGO – Why Were They Created?

SGO was new Legal Order introduced in 2005.

The aim was to give permanence and security to a particular group of children who did not have access to this via other routes

For example:- 

  • Older Children for whom adoption was not an option
  • Children already settled and living with a  relative or foster carer
  • Unaccompanied asylum seeker children requiring permanency whilst still retaining a strong attachment to family abroad
  • Minority ethnic groups who cultural have difficulty with adoption.

BUT …

They are just principles

This is what has happened 

2013 - No of children aged 1 year or less placed under SGO

2014 - No of children aged 1 year or less placed under SGO

2015 - No of children aged 1 year or less placed under SGO

The trend for Special Guardianship Orders is rising each year

It is increasing for babies and young children,

Special Guardianship Order’s are being used in a way that they were not intended.

As a result, families who obtain a Special Guardianship Order find that there is little support.

They are often left literally holding the baby.

 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the legal framework for Special Guardianship

The Adoption and Children Act 2002 provides the legal framework for Special Guardianship under the Children Act 1989. Section 115 (1) of the 2002 Act inserted new sections 14A-F into the Children Act 1989.

The New sections provided for;

  • who may apply for special guardianship orders
  • the circumstances in which a special guardianship order may be made
  • the nature and effect of special guardianship orders
  • support services for those affected by special guardianship

Who Can apply for Special Guardianship

  • A person who has a Child Arrangements Order
  • A person who the child has lived with for three out of the last five years.
  • A person who has the agreement of the Local Authority
  • A person who has the agreement of all the people with parental responsibility for the child.
  • A Local Authority foster carer or relative that the child has been living with for at least one year before the application is made.
  • Anyone who has the courts permission.
  • They will need to be 18 years old in order to apply for a Special Guardianship Order.

If a family member is applying for a Special Guardianship Order because they have a child in their care where there are no care proceedings in place, but they need to obtain parental responsibility for a child this is called a PRIVATE SPECIAL GUARDIANSHIP application. They will need to make an application through the Courts and notify the Local Authority in writing in order to make an application.

Three months before they make the application, they must tell the Local Authority in writing that they plan to apply to the Court for a Special Guardianship Order.

The Local Authority has to write a report for the Court to help it to decide what order to make.

The Court cannot make an order without this report.

You can find all the forms and information they will need to make an application at

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/form-c13a-supplement-for-an-application-for-a-special-guardianship-order

 

What is the difference between Special Guardianship and Connected Persons?

 

They are both achieving the same purpose; they are caring for a child who is a member of their family. The key difference is the legislation that is behind these two ways of ensuring that a child is cared for in their family.

Special Guardianship carers are assessed under the Special Guardianship Regulations 2005 and February 2016.

Connected Persons come under the Fostering Regulations and are also called or Family and Friends Foster Carers.

Why were Special Guardianship Orders introduced

Special Guardianship Orders often referred to as SGO’s were introduced in England and Wales in December 2005 as a way to provide greater security for children when the Local Authority were planning for their permanence and when adoption was not appropriate.

Special Guardians obtain parental responsibility for a child which overrides the parents’ parental responsibility. This means that they will be able to make most of the decisions about a child. A parent never loses their parental responsibility, but they cannot exercise this over and above the Special Guardian.

 

What Does Special Guardianship allow a carer to do?

Special Guardians obtain parental responsibility for a child which overrides the parents’ parental responsibility.

They will be able to make most of the decisions about a child. However, a parent never loses their parental responsibility, but they cannot exercise this over and above the Special Guardian.

There are only three main things that a Special Guardianship carer cannot do, they will need the permission of the Court or the parents in order to do the following:

  • They cannot change a child’s name
  • They cannot take a child out of the UK for more than 3 months at any one time.
  • They cannot give consent for the child to be adopted.

Do Special Guardians Need To Be Assessed?

Special Guardianship carers also need to be assessed in the same way as Family and Friends Foster carers, but they are assessed under different regulations. They are assessed under Special Guardianship Regulations and a report and plan of support has to be submitted to the Court.

The Court cannot make a Special Guardianship Order with a report of the prospective guardian and how they will be supported

What does the Special Guardianship Assessment Report cover

Local Authorities are bound to prepare a report for Court consistent with Special Guardianship Regulations 2005 updated in 2016.

The court regulations provide a structure of the key information that is required in the SGO report.

Over the past few years, however many Local Authorities have started to develop their own Special Guardianship report templates and tools to gather this information, the consensus being that the regulated format does not provide a flow or a forum for effective analysis.

Below is a brief overview of the parts required in the report, to get an in depth assessment guide from SGOINFO about what information to put in the relevant sections then go here

The report is generally structured to cover:-

Part 1 – The Child’s information

Part 2 – The Birth Parents Information

Part 3- The Wishes and feelings

Part 4- The Prospective Carers information

Part 5 & 6 – Contains the Support and Statutory requirements

Part 7 & 8 – Addresses the key issues of SGO and any other orders that could be made

Part 9 – The Recommendation

Part 10 – Recommendation regarding contact.

How long should a Special Guardianship report be?

In July 2018, a new practice directive 27A came into play which limits the length of expert reports including Special Guardianship reports to no more than 40 pages.

This does not mean that the assessment should be any less thorough, what it means for practitioners is that they will need to be able to provide a much clearer analysis of the information that they have gathered from their visits.

A Bit More About Special Guardianship Order Carers (SGO)

Special Guardianship Orders are often referred to as SGO’s.

They were introduced in England and Wales in December 2005 as a way to provide greater security for children when the Local Authority were planning for their permanence and when adoption was not appropriate.

Special Guardians obtain parental responsibility for a child which overrides the parents’ parental responsibility.

This means that they will be able to make most of the decisions about a child. A parent never loses their parental responsibility, but they cannot exercise this over and above the Special Guardian.

There are only three main things that a Special Guardianship carer cannot do, they will need the permission of the Court or the parents in order to do the following:

  • They cannot change a child’s name
  • They cannot take a child out of the UK for more than 3 months at any one time.
  • They cannot give consent for the child to be adopted.

Special Guardianship carers also need to be assessed in the same way as Family and Friends Foster carers, they are assessed under Special Guardianship Regulations.

The Local Authority must produce a Special Guardianship report and a support plan covering  their needs to the Court, before the court can grant a Special Guardianship Order.

What Will Special Guardianship Info Do

SGO Info wants to raise awareness about Special Guardianship nationally in the UK, to bring about change in procedures and ensure that safe decisions are being made.

Create tools and resources to enable professionals working with Special Guardianship families to support them in the best ways possible.

To bring all information about Special Guardianship and Special Guardianship Assessment into one easy to find home that is accessible to all.

What Would Special Guardianship Info like to see happen

Special Guardianship Info believes that children should be able to grow up healthy, safely and well cared for within their family of origin when placed with Special Guardianship Carers and for  SGO carers to receive suitable support when doing so.

The aim is to develop books, information guides, videos and other resources to help professionals and the special guardianship families they are supporting.

SGO Info’s wants to give Special Guardianship a voice, to bring about change so that Special Guardians are recognised and have equal access to support and services as others caring for children.

Who Is Special Guardianship Info for…

Social Workers and Professionals

SGO Info will keep you updated with what is happening in Special Guardianship.

Provide you with resources to assist in the assessment process and will be developing tools to help professionals obtain the best possible outcome for families going through Special Guardianship assessment.

Enter your name and email below to stay up to date

If you are a prospective Special Guardian or are already a Special Guardian, then get updates and resources information -  at our sister site at www.sgosupport.co.uk

Welcome to Special Guardianship Info -  Giving Special Guardianship a Voice.

*Disclaimer

This is a personal blog, reflecting my views and opinions, not necessarily those of my employer or anyone I’m currently working with. The information I provide is on an as-seen basis. I make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information on this blog and will not be liable for any errors, omissions or delays in this information or any losses, injuries or damages arising from its use.

SGO Info - Giving

Special Guardianship a Voice

SGO Info

Giving Special Guardianship a Voice

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