Are there Special Guardianship support services?
Local authorities must provide financial support and other services under the Adoption and Children Act 2002. However, unless a child was looked after by the local authority immediately before the SGO was granted, there is no automatic entitlement to these services.
Special guardians can request that the local authority carry out an assessment to find out whether they are eligible for services. It is the local authority’s decision whether to carry out an assessment, and this will depend upon the needs of the child and the family. The local authority must write to the child's special guardian and explain the reasons for their decision within 28 days.
As well as providing financial support the local authority might offer:
- Access to local support groups
- Counselling, advice and information
- Mediation to assist with contact arrangements with the child’s parents
- Respite care
- Special training to help the guardian meet the child’s needs.
Our family solicitors at Davisons can advise you about applying for special guardianship support services. We can also advise you what to do if you disagree with a local authority’s decision.
What are the alternatives to a SGO?
Where a child can continue to have a positive relationship with their parents, a Special Guardianship Order may be the right option. In other circumstances, a SGO might not be in the child's best interests.
There are several alternatives to applying for a SGO:
- Adoption. Adoptive parents have parental responsibility for a child. The child’s birth parents lose parental responsibility and cannot make decisions about the child’s life.
- Fostering. Foster parents do not have parental responsibility for a child. Fostering can be a long-term arrangement, but it is not usually permanent.
- Child Arrangements Order. When somebody is granted a Child Arrangements Order by the court, they share equal parental responsibility with the child’s parents.