A new report from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has called on councils to do more to ensure they are providing the appropriate level of support and guidance to children subject to Special Guardianship Orders, and their carers.
The Ombudsman defines Special Guardians as people who look after children who are not their own, following a court order. This order is known as a Special Guardianship Order (SGO), which gives carers greater rights to make decisions on behalf of the children they are looking after and also provides children with a greater degree of permanence.
According to Government figures, the number of SGOs made in 2015 reached over 5,300, which is an increase of 81% compared to 2011.
“Special Guardianship Orders can offer a stable and secure home life for some of the most vulnerable children in our society; children for whom, for whatever reason, it is not possible to live with their birth parents,” explained Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, Michael King.
“Many of these guardians are also family members, and take on their role willingly, but with little notice and without understanding the consequences,” he said. “It is imperative, therefore, that these children and their guardians get the right support available to them – and without having to fight the system to get what they are entitled to.”
“Many of the investigations detailed in the report have resulted in councils taking positive steps to improve their practices,” he added. “I would encourage all councils that have a duty to support people contemplating becoming special guardians to learn from this report and ensure their policies and procedures include the proper provisions for families.”
For expert legal advice on Special Guardianship Orders, and other issues involving children, then contact our specialist family lawyers today.