In my last blog, I wrote about the legal effect of special guardianship orders. Today, I’m going to talk about what the Local Authority considers in carrying out a special guardianship order assessment.

Before the Court makes a special guardianship order (SGO), it is required to consider a report to consider the suitability of the proposed special guardians.

The Special Guardianship Order Regulations 2005 provide a lengthy list of matters which the Local Authority is required to report on before an SGO can be made. These include:

  • Basic details about name, date of birth, address and background
  • Details of any current or previous marriage or civil partnership or cohabiting relationship
  • If the proposed special guardians are in a relationship, an assessment of their relationship
  • The current relationship with the child/ren concerned
  • A health history
  • Details of how the proposed special guardian relates to adults and children
  • Previous parenting experience
  • Details of income and expenditure
  • Details of other members of the household
  • Details of any other child of the proposed special guardian, even if they are not part of the household
  • The views of other household members about the application
  • A health history
  • Employment history
  • Details of any other involvement in family court proceedings
  • Reasons for making the application
  • Hopes and expectations for the child/children’s future
  • Wishes and feelings about the child/children’s contact with parents

The Local Authority will also carry out criminal record checks (often called DBS checks). They have to talk to referees who have known the special guardians for a long time and a medical assessment will be carried out by a GP.

So you can see this is a huge piece of work! It will generally mean around 6-10 meetings with social workers and can feel quite intrusive. Bear in mind that the process is designed to ensure that a really comprehensive assessment is carried out before the Court makes a decision to place a child with special guardians.

In my next blog, I am going to talk about the support available to special guardians.