This week, I have been talking about special guardianship assessments. In my experience, one important aspect of the assessment which often does not get as much attention as it should is considering the support which special guardians will need.

When the Court makes a special guardianship order, this doesn’t just affect the relationship between the child and his or her parents and the special guardians. It also puts a statutory duty on the Local Authority to support the special guardians. Support includes:

– Counselling, advice and other information
– Financial support

When carrying out a special guardianship assessment, the Local Authority should also undertake an assessment of the special guardianship support which the carers will need. Often, carers are so anxious about the outcome of the assessment that they are nervous about asking for support and it seeming demanding or meaning that the social worker will think they can’t cope. They may worry that asking about financial support means people will think that they are ‘just doing it for the money’.

Conversely, Local Authorities are often too quick to pass on their responsibilities to special guardians, for example by wanting them to take responsibility for managing contact whilst emotions are still running high.

Often, Local Authorities will pay for some legal advice to proposed special guardians and this is because of a recognition that getting the support plan right may mean the difference between a placement succeeding and failing. This is one area where seeing a solicitor for an hour’s advice can be really valuable – we know what Local Authorities can and should do and can help negotiate this for you. If you think this would help you, do contact me for an initial chat.