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Government amends regulations around Special Guardianship Orders

Amendments laid before parliament to strengthen guardianship arrangements

New regulations around Special Guardianship Orders will ensure prospective carers can look after a child until they are 18.

Following a recent pledge by the government to strengthen Special Guardianship Orders, children’s minister Edward Timpson has laid before parliament new regulations, ‘The Special Guardianship (Amendment) Regulations 2016’, which will come into force at the end of the month.

Social workers will need to take into consideration any harm which the child has suffered and any risk of future harm to the child posed by their parents, relatives or any other person considered relevant, for example a partner of the parent, in their assessments of special guardian arrangements.

In addition, social workers’ assessments will need to determine that the child’s current and future needs can be met in the guardianship arrangements.

Further amendments replace the provision relating to the prospective special guardian’s relationship with the child with a more detailed provision requiring an assessment of the nature of the child’s relationship with the prospective special guardian both at the time of the assessment and in the past. It also substitutes a new and more detailed provision relating to the parenting capacity of the prospective special guardian.

Following a review of SGOs last month which found that children were being placed in potentially risky placements, the government has pledged to:-

  • Strengthen the assessment process, to ensure that assessments are more robust and more consistent for all children,
  • Ensure that the placement has a strong probability of lasting permanently until the child is 18;
  • Actively consider whether further changes are required to the legal framework that underpins decision making around special guardianship; and
  • Consider what support should be available to children living under special guardianship arrangements.

Timpson said that while a full impact assessment has not been produced for the regulations, no significant impact on the private, voluntary or public sectors is foreseen.


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