What Is Special Guardianship- SGO Info launch to raise awareness?

What Is Special Guardianship- SGO Info launch to raise awareness?

SGO Info – What is it all about?

I am a social worker, I have worked in child protection, fostering and adoption, finally I have found my place, within the field of  Kinship Care. Special Guardianship is the new focus of kinship care.

Broadly speaking Kinship Care also called Connected Personsas, is the aspect of keeping children to be raised within their family.

It is this value of children continuing to know and identify with their families that I feel strongly aligned and passionate about.

Special Guardianship embraces this concept in total. Special Guardianship is gaining in popularity, but so many people have still not heard the term Special Guardianship or what it means.

SGO Info aims to raise awareness about Special Guardianship.

Getting to grips with all the technical jargon

You may have come across several terms being used, and frankly it can get confusing, so let’s get it clear, right at the start.

Kinship care or Connected Persons is essentially that, care by kin. Kin means ‘one’s family and friends‘.

Kinship Care means that family and friends look after children who cannot live with their parents for a range of complex reasons.

Usually the child being cared for has a familial relationship with that person. For example, it could be a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin.

Kinship Care can also be by someone who is not a part of the child’s family but may be someone who is known to the child for example a neighbour, a parent of a school friend or a family friend. Therefore the use of the term Connected Person is being used more than Kinship, although the kinship care is much preferred.

When a child is looked after by the Local Authority, Kinship care should be the first choice. Social workers should look toward family. They must give family and friends priority when deciding where a child should live when they cannot live with their parents. They 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 Connected Persons Carer also called a Family and Friends Foster 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 are assessed under the Fostering Regulations and are also called Family and Friends Foster Carers.


What is a Connected Person/Family and Friends Foster Carer

When a child is looked after by the Local Authority, then either their parents need to give their agreement for this to happen. This called a Section 20 Consent.

If the parents do not give their consent or the Local Authority is unable to obtain this, then the Local Authority needs to apply to the Court, if they believe that a child is at significant risk of harm, for an Interim Care Order so that a child can become looked after.

The Local Authority can decide to place a child with a family member under Fostering Regulations whilst they assess that family member.

Anyone who is caring for a child who is a looked after child must be an approved foster carer, even family and friends and many family and friend’s carers find this very strange but it is a requirement of the regulations and the Local Authority has to make sure that they assess anyone who is caring for a looked after child.

Kinship carers are sometimes called Family and Friends Foster Carers and they need to abide by the same rules and regulations as mainstream foster carers have to do.

Family and Friends Foster carers have the same rights as mainstream foster carers  but they also have the same obligations and many Family and Friends carers find this aspect very difficult.

This means that they have to be assessed just like mainstream foster carers and many prospective family members find this hard to understand as they are afterall caring for a grandchild, niece or nephew.


The Assessment Process

The assessment process for Family and Friends Foster carers needs to be completed within 16 weeks from the time a child is placed into their care. This mean  a full assessment report will be completed about them.

They will have an array of checks completed, a medical and they will also be asked to attend training.

They will also need to attend a fostering panel in order to be recommended for approval.

Family and Friends Foster carers do not have parental responsibility of a child but some of the decision making about the child will be delegated to them by the local authority. This means that they can make some day to day decisions about a child.

Family and Friends Foster Carers will also be paid the same standard allowances as other foster carers.

Whilst this site is mainly concerned with Special Guardianship, often the two go hand in hand as Special Guardianship carers often start out as Connected Persons carers.

A bit more about Special Guardianship Order Carers (SGO)

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 Special Guardians 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, but they are assessed under different regulations.

They are assessed under Special Guardianship Regulations and a report and plan of support needs to be submitted to the court.

Why did SgoInfo get started?

I have worked as an Independent Social Worker assessing Connected Person carers, that is both Special Guardians and Family and Friends Carers since 2012.

I have been struck by the complexity of the processes that carers are subject to and what is expected of them in often difficult circumstances.

On the other side of the coin, as a social worker, I have been aware of the pressures and demands that assessing social workers are placed under to complete SGO and Family and Friends assessments in ever decreasing timescales, there is also a lack of suitable resources and guidance about Special Guardianship assessment.

It is with this in mind that I have decided to set up a one stop home for everything to do with Special Guardianship.


Welcome to Special Guardianship Info –  Keeping children in the Family.



Special Guardianship Info –  Giving SGO a Voice