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Special guardianship

For children and young people who cannot remain in the care of their birth parents, a Special Guardianship Order may offer, in certain circumstances, a safe option for a permanent home.

The order grants parental responsibility, which overrules any other person with parental responsibility apart from another special guardian. The special guardian has responsibility for day-to-day decisions relating to a child's care and upbringing.

Special Guardianship Orders are private law orders, made under the Children Act 1989 appointing one or more individuals to be a child's 'special guardian'. It does not end the legal relationship between the child and their birth parents, but, on making a special guardianship order, the court may give leave for the child to be known by a new surname.

Who can apply for special guardianship

  • any guardian of the child
  • any individual who has a child arrangement order or any person where a child arrangement order is in force and who has the consent of the person in whose favour the order is made
  • anyone with whom the child has lived for at least 3 years out of the last 5
  • anyone with the consent of the local authority, if the child is in care
  • a local authority foster parent with whom the child has lived for at least 1 year before the application
  • anyone who has the consent of those with parental responsibility
  • anyone who has the leave of the court

You must be over 18 years of age and you can apply on your own or jointly with another person. A parent of a child may not be appointed as the child's special guardian.

Medway's role 

The regulations say that the local authority report should include certain key information about the child such as:

  • details of both parents and any brothers and sisters 
  • the relationship a child has with other family members and the arrangements for the child to see or keep in touch with different family members
  • details of the child's relationship with their parents
  • the parent's and child's wishes and feelings
  • the possible special guardian's family composition, circumstances, and parenting capacity
  • medical information on the child, prospective special guardian and the birth parent(s)
  • an assessment of how a Special Guardianship Order would meet a child's long term interests as compared with other types of order
  • support services

Arrangements for the provision of special guardianship support services include:

  • financial assistance (means tested)
  • assistance with the arrangements for contact between a child, their parents and any relatives that the local authority considers to be beneficial. This assistance can include cash to help with the cost of travel, entertainment, and medication to help resolve difficulties of contact
  • respite care
  • counselling, advice, information and other support services
  • services to enable children, parents and special guardians to discuss matters, which might include setting up a support group
  • therapeutic services for the child

Medway has a team of specialist staff to offer support services - to carers, the child, and their birth parents. These services include advice and information, contact support, and, in certain circumstances, financial support.

Phone us on 01634 33 56 76 if you feel that we could help.