Latest articles
Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust v DV (A Child) [2021] EWHC 1037 (Fam)
(Family Division, Cohen J, 19 April 2021)Medical Treatment – 17-year-old had form of bone cancer and required surgery For comprehensive, judicially approved coverage of every important...
Domestic Abuse Bill
Aaron Gates-Lincoln, Immigration NewsAfter years of development the Domestic Abuse Bill returned to the House of Lords in the UK on the 8th March 2021 to complete its report stage, one of the final...
Coercive control and children’s welfare in Re H-N and Others
When families come to strife, arrangements must be made for the future care of any children. In some circumstances, this means an application to the courts. These ‘private law orders’ can...
Profession: Expert Witness
The value of a family business or business interest is treated as an asset and therefore part of the matrimonial pot to be distributed when it comes to negotiating a financial settlement on divorce or...
How does a jointly held property pass on death?
When meeting with clients to discuss their succession planning, many cannot recall whether their property is held jointly as joint tenants or jointly as tenants in common. The distinction is that with...
View all articles
Authors

Report calls for reform to special guardianship to protect and support children and carers

Aug 5, 2019, 13:49 PM
Special Guardianship Order, child protection
Slug :
Meta Title : Report calls for reform to special guardianship to protect and support children and carers
Meta Keywords :
Canonical URL :
Trending Article : Yes
Prioritise In Trending Articles : No
Date : Aug 5, 2019, 13:47 PM
Article ID :
A recent report calls for significant changes to Special Guardianship Orders (SGOs), which includes ensuring family members who might become carers have direct experience of looking after the child before the court order is made.

The review was commissioned by the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory in response to the Court of Appeal’s call for authoritative, evidence-based guidance for the use of SGOs.  It was led by Dr John Simmonds from CoramBAAF and Professor Judith Harwin from Lancaster University.

The review shows that SGOs provide children with a safe, permanent home with family members when the court decides they cannot live with their birth parents. But local authorities and the courts face major challenges in providing special guardians with adequate preparation and support for the long-term consequences of this life-changing responsibility, leading to avoidable and significant stress that is potentially damaging to children’s futures. 

The review calls for significant changes including: 
  • Increase focus on working with family members who might become the child’s special guardian before care proceedings commence. 
  • A statutory minimum amount of preparation and training for prospective special guardians.  
  • Ensuring that prospective special guardians have direct experience of caring for the child before making a Special Guardianship Order, evidenced by a thorough assessment of suitability.
  • Ensure that support services are available locally and align with entitlements for adopters and foster carers such as parental leave, housing priority and financial support. 
  • Address the glaring gap in research on children and young people’s views and experiences of special guardianship. Undertake research to address the challenge of how best to ensure safe and positive contact with birth parents and the wider family. 
 

Special guardians are usually family members and have parental responsibility for the child in their care. However, unlike adoption, the basic legal link between the child and their birth parents is preserved. The use of SGOs has been increasing - between 2010/11 and 2016/17, more than 21,000 children had an SGO made at the end of their care proceedings.

The review examined the research evidence on special guardianship, informed by the views of special guardians themselves, and sought the views of lawyers, social workers and Cafcass Guardians. It found that special guardianship is a stable option for children, the majority of whom fare well in relation to their safety, well-being and developmental progress. However, use of SGOs is not aligned with best practice in other forms of placement such as adoption and foster care, even though children have experienced similar levels of abuse and neglect and the demands placed on special guardians are as great as for other carers.

Lisa Harker, Director of the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory said: ‘Relatives are often the first to be considered when finding a loving, stable home for children who are unable to live with their birth parents but too often they are asked to care for children with significant emotional and behavioural difficulties, without sufficient support in place to help them to do so. This evidence review points to some serious gaps in assessment, preparation and support which need to be addressed.’

Dr John Simmonds, Director of Policy, Research and Development at CoramBAAF said: ‘Our research review has explored the current evidence, and this reinforces the message that Special guardianship is an important positive option. But there are a number of priority issues that need urgent reform to ensure that these life-changing plans are child and carer centred. The evidence indicates that currently they are not.’

Professor Judith Harwin said: ‘Special guardianship is an immensely important route out of the care system. This review confirms what we have known for too long. We expect too much of special guardians and need to ensure their entitlements to preparation, advice and support match those available to foster carers and adopters. The practice of making a SGO before the child has lived with the carer is hard to justify and should stop.’
Categories :
  • News
Tags :
  • child care
  • Special guardianship
Authors
Provider :
Product Bucket : Children (Public)
Load more comments
Comment by from