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.