On Monday Emma raised the issue of Special Guardianship Orders (SGOs) at Education questions, highlighting the inconsistency in the rules for SGOs and rules for adoption that can sometimes lead to guardians taking care of children without appropriate support.
SGOs are different from Adoption Orders in that the child’s birth parents retain parental responsibility. It is sometimes preferred to adoption, for example in cases where the child is older and does not want to end their relationship with their birth family.
But Emma warned the Minister for Children and Families, Edward Timpson, that SGOs are sometimes used as an alternative to adoption because the process is quicker and less complex. She added that because Special Guardians are not entitled to the same long-term support as adoptive parents, this created a problem where some children were living with families that were not properly supported to meet their needs.
Emma asked the Minister:
“Adults who become Special Guardians face the same difficulties as parents who adopt, yet receive less support. My experience is that overburdened social workers are more likely to pursue a special guardianship order because the process is less intensive, but sometimes that lack of rigour leads to breakdown. Will the Minister try to bring the processes for SGOs into line with those for adoption so that children are protected by arrangements that are appropriate for them?”
The Minister acknowledged that there had been a “significant increase” in the number of SGOs, and that the Government had commissioned research into the Orders, including into breakdown rates and the level of support available. He offered to meet with Emma to discuss the issue in more detail. You can read Emma’s question and the Minister’s response in full by clicking here.