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What is Special Guardianship?

Special Guardianship means that the child lives with carers who are granted overriding parental responsibility for them until they are grown up, usually until they are 18 years old.

Families with children on a Special Guardianship Order experience a wide range of rewards and challenges. Special Guardianship provides permanence for children who have often previously been in the care of the Local Authority. SGOs offer stability to children and young people who, for a number of reasons, are not able to live with their birth parents.

SGOs enable carers to make more of the daily decisions in relation to a child than Fostering or Child Arrangement Orders. SGOs do not sever legal ties between a birth parent and a child like Adoption does. Direct contact often continues if it's in the best interests of the child and contact arrangements are considered on a case-by-case basis by the Local Authority as part of the assessment.

To apply to be a Special Guardian you must be over 18 years and have an existing or possible relationship with the child. You could be:

  • Grandparents
  • Aunt or uncle
  • Brother or sister
  • Other relatives
  • Family friend
  • Neighbour
  • Unrelated foster carer