3.10.1 Special Guardianship

RELATED GUIDANCE

Adoption Support Fund

Special Guardianship Guidance

RELATED CHAPTER

Financial Support to Permanence Arrangements Procedure

AMENDMENT

The chapter was updated in September 2017. The DfE has updated the Special Guardianship Guidance to include details of the Adoption Support Fund as the Fund now covers therapeutic support for children, living in England, who were previously in care immediately before the making of a Special Guardianship Order.


Contents

POLICY

  1. Introduction
  2. Who may Apply
  3. Parental Responsibility
  4. The Circumstances in Which a Special Guardianship Order may be Made
  5. Planning Meeting
  6. Approval of Special Guardianship for Looked After Children
  7. Report to the Court
  8. Discharge of Special Guardianship Order
  9. Special Guardianship Support
  10. Entitlement to Assessment for Special Guardianship Support
  11. Assessment for Support
  12. The Special Guardianship Support Plan
  13. Financial Support
  14. Urgent Cases
  15. Special Guardian Duty on the Death of the Child

PROCEDURAL GUIDANCE 

  1. Generally
  2. The Referral
  3. Support
  4. Process for the Single Assessment of Special Guardianship Support Services 
  5. Review of Special Guardianship Support Plans


1. Introduction

Whereas in adoption, there is legal severance between the child and the birth family, Special Guardianship is an order that preserves those ties.

It will address the needs of a significant group of children, mainly older, who need a sense of stability and security but who do not wish to make the absolute legal break with their birth family that is associated with adoption. Special Guardianship Orders are likely to replace the use of Child Arrangements Orders in many cases in that they offer greater stability and legal security to a placement.

Special Guardianship will also provide an alternative for achieving permanence in families where adoption, for cultural or religious reasons, is not an option.

Special Guardians will have Parental Responsibility for the child and, whilst this will be shared with the child's parents, the Special Guardian will have the ability to exercise this responsibility without seeking permission from the parents.

A Special Guardianship Order made in relation to a Looked After Child will replace the Care Order and the local authority will no longer have Parental Responsibility. 

A Care Order will not automatically revoke a Special Guardianship Order although the Special Guardian's exercise of parental responsibility will be restricted as the local authority will have primary responsibility for decision-making under the Care Order.


2. Who may Apply?

Applications for Special Guardianship may be individual or joint. Joint applicants do not need to be married. Special Guardians must be 18 or over. 

The following persons may apply without having to obtain the leave of the court:

  • Any guardian of the child;
  • Where the child is subject of a Care Order or an Interim Care Order, any person who has the consent of the Local Authority [1];
  • A local authority foster carer who is a relative of the child or with whom the child has lived for one year immediately preceding the application (even if the Local Authority does not consent);
  • Anyone who is named in a Child Arrangements Order as a person with whom the child is to live;
  • Anyone who has the consent of each person named in a Child Arrangements Order as a person with whom the child is to live;
  • Anyone with whom the child has lived for three out of the last five years, providing the child has not ceased to live with the proposed applicant more than 3 months before the making of the application;
  • Anyone who has the consent of all those with Parental Responsibility for the child;
  • Any other person (including the child and other than a parent) may apply for a Special Guardianship Order if he has obtained the leave of the court to make the application.

The parents of a child may not apply to become their own child's Special Guardians.

[1] A person who is, or was at any time within the last 6 months, a local authority foster parent of a child may not apply for leave to apply for an SGO unless (s)he has the consent of the local authority, or (s)he is a relative of the child or the child has lived with him for at least one year preceding the application.


3. Parental Responsibility

The Special Guardian will have Parental Responsibility for the child and will have clear responsibility for the day-to-day decisions about caring for the child to the exclusion of anyone else who might have Parental Responsibility (apart from another Special Guardian).

The child's parents will continue to hold Parental Responsibility but their exercise of it will be limited. The parents will, however, retain the right to Consent or not to the child's adoption or placement for adoption.

In addition there are certain steps in a child's life which require the consent of every-one with Parental Responsibility, for example:

  • The change of name of the child;
  • The removal of the child from the United Kingdom for longer than three months;
  • The sterilisation of a child.


4. The Circumstances in Which a Special Guardianship Order may be Made

The Court may make a Special Guardianship Order in any family proceedings concerning the welfare of the child. This applies even where no application has been made and includes adoption proceedings. 

Any person making an application for a Special Guardianship Order must give 3 months' written notice to their local authority of their intention to apply. In relation to a Looked After Child, the notice will go to the local authority looking after the child. In all other cases, the notice will be sent to the local authority for the area where the applicant resides. The local authority will then have a duty to provide a report to the Court. In Walsall, all notifications will be forwarded to the Designated Manager of Family placements. They will then be collated and the appropriate action will be taken.

The only exception to the requirement for 3 months' notice is where the Court has granted leave to make an application and waived the notice period.

Where the local authority has received notice from an applicant or a request for a report from the Court, it should send written information about the steps it proposes to take in preparing the report to the prospective Special Guardian and the parents of the child in question. This should include information about Special Guardianship support services and how to request an assessment of needs for support.


5. Planning Meeting

Once notice has been received that an application for Special Guardianship is to be made, the notice should be passed to the allocated social worker for the child, the IRO and legal services.

A planning meeting will then be arranged within 5 working days.

Responsibility for arranging and chairing this meeting is as follows:

  1. If the child is not previously known, a senior practitioner in the family and friends team will arrange and chair the meeting. If the applicants are Walsall approved foster carers the supervising social worker will arrange and chair the meeting;
  2. If the applicants are Independent fostering agency foster carers then a senior practitioner in the family and friends team will arrange and chair the meeting.

In attendance at this planning meeting will be the applicants, the assessor, the child’s social worker and the carers supervising social worker and any other relevant agencies.

In all cases, there will need to be:

An assessment of the current and likely future needs of the child (including any harm the child has suffered and any risk of future harm posed by the child’s parents, relatives or any other person the local authority considers relevant).

An assessment of the prospective Special Guardian's parenting capacity including:

  1. Their understanding of, and ability to meet the child’s current and likely future needs, particularly, any needs the child may have arising from harm that the child has suffered;
  2. Their understanding of, and ability to protect the child from any current or future risk of harm posed by the child’s parents, relatives or any other person the local authority consider relevant, particularly in relation to contact between any such person and the child;
  3. Their ability and suitability to bring up the child until the child reaches the age of eighteen.

The proposed contact arrangements and the support needs (see Section 11, Assessment for Support) of the child, parents and the prospective special guardian.

The assessment of the applicants should include their medical history, the references received and the Disclosure and Barring Service and other statutory checks undertaken for the assessment.

A full list of the matters to be included in the report is set out in Court Reports in Adoption/Special Guardianship Procedure.


6. Approval of Special Guardianship for Looked After Children

If the child is Looked After and the application has been agreed as part of the child's Permanence Plan, the assessments will usually have been undertaken and the outcomes agreed as part of the permanence planning for the child, in which case there will be no need to hold a planning meeting. The plan for consideration of Special Guardianship for a looked after child, needs to be agreed at the child's statutory review.

In cases where a child is looked after, the matter is in proceedings, the care plan is permanence away from birth parents and a family meeting has been held where family members have been identified as possible special guardians, it is the responsibility of the child’s social worker to undertake any viability assessments on the appropriate format. The decision about whether to proceed to a full assessment is the responsibility of the children’s social work manager in discussion with the team manager of the Family and Friends fostering team. If there is a positive recommendation, the SGO assessment will be commissioned by the usual processes. However if the recommendation of the viability assessment is that they may be able to care for the child on a short term basis under the Fostering Regulations, this will be commissioned.

At this point, aspects of funding for certain costs i.e. legal fees must be agreed (see Section 14, Urgent Cases).


7. Report for the Court

The social worker or social workers preparing the Court report should be suitably qualified and experienced.

A full list of the matters to be included in the report is set out in Court Reports in Adoption/Special Guardianship.

Once completed, the Court Report should be submitted by the author(s) to the Senior Practitioner responsible for Special Guardianship to be quality assured.

The report cannot be more than 6 months old at the time of being lodged at court and therefore the Senior practitioner responsible for Special Guardianship, will request an updated report from the assessing social worker if one is required.


8. Discharge of Special Guardianship Order

A Special Guardianship Order can be varied or discharged on the application of:

  • The Special Guardian;
  • The local authority in whose name a Care Order was in force before the Special Guardianship Order was made;
  • Anyone with a Child Arrangements Order in respect of the child before the Special Guardianship Order was made;

    or
  • With the leave of the court:
    • The child's parents or guardians;
    • Any step parent who has Parental Responsibility;
    • Anyone who had Parental Responsibility immediately before the Special Guardianship Order was made;
    • The child (if the court is satisfied that the child has sufficient understanding).

Where the applicant is not the child and the leave of the court is required, the court may only grant leave if there has been a significant change in circumstances since the Special Guardianship Order was made. 

The court may during any family proceedings in which a question arises about the welfare of a child who is subject to a Special Guardianship Order, vary or discharge the Order in the absence of an application.


9. Special Guardianship Support

The local authority must make provision for a range of Special Guardianship support services.

Special Guardianship support services are defined as:

  • Financial support (see Section 14, Urgent Cases);
  • Services to enable children, Special Guardians and parents to discuss matters relating to special guardianship;
  • Assistance including mediation in relation to contact between the child and their parents, relatives or significant others;
  • Therapeutic services for the child;
  • Assistance to ensure continuance of the relationship between the child and the Special Guardian, including training to meet any special needs of the child, respite care, and mediation;
  • Counselling, advice and information.

In Walsall these services are accessed via the relevant Designated Manager (Special Guardianship Support). Special Guardianship Support will be subject to the approval of the Designated Manager (Special Guardianship Support).
Local arrangements will determine whether any additional approval is required for the payment of financial support.

Support services should not be seen in isolation from mainstream services and it is important to ensure that families are assisted in accessing mainstream services and are aware of their entitlements to tax credits and social security benefits.

Where the child was previously Looked After, the local authority that looked after the child has responsibility for providing support for the first three years after the making of a Special Guardianship Order. Thereafter the local authority where the Special Guardian lives will be responsible for the provision of any support required.

If a child is not Looked After, the local authority where the Special Guardian lives has the responsibility for Special Guardianship support. 

Ongoing financial support, which has been agreed before the Special Guardianship Order is made, remains the responsibility of the local authority that agreed it so long as the family meet the criteria for payments.

In addition to the support provided by local authorities the Adoption Support Fund in England also covers therapeutic support for children, living in England, who were previously in care immediately before the making of a Special Guardianship Order.

Based on the assessment of needs, local authorities can apply for funding from the Adoption Support Fund.


10. Entitlement to Assessment for Special Guardianship Support

Where the child is Looked After or was Looked After immediately prior to the making of the Special Guardianship Order, the following people MUST receive an assessment at their request:

  • The child;
  • The Special Guardian or prospective Special Guardian;
  • A parent (but only in relation to their need for support with contact and/or discussion groups).

Where the child is not Looked After or was not Looked After immediately prior to the making of the Special Guardianship Order, the following people MAY be offered an assessment of their need for Special Guardianship support services:

N.B. Good practice indicates that in cases where the child is not looked after, but there have been safeguarding or welfare concerns, the local authority has the discretion not to assess, but there is also a responsibility on behalf the local authority not to allow the arrangement to fail due to lack of financial or other practical support.

  • The child;
  • The Special Guardian or prospective Special Guardian;
  • A parent.

In all cases, whether the Special Guardianship child is looked after or not, the following people also MAY be offered an assessment of their need for Special Guardianship support services:

  • A child of the Special Guardian;
  • Any person with a significant ongoing relationship with the child.

If the local authority decides not to assess in cases where they have discretion as above, they must notify the decision in writing, including reasons for the decision, to the person making the request. This will be provided by the Designated Manager (Special Guardianship Support).

If the local authority is not supporting the making of a Special Guardianship Order, there is no duty on the local authority to assess support needs.


11. Assessment for Support

The assessment should be based on the Assessment Framework and include the following:

  • The developmental needs of the child;
  • The parenting capacity of the Special Guardian or prospective Special Guardian to meet the child’s needs;
  • Family and environmental factors that have shaped the life of the child and the capacity of the Special Guardian or prospective Special Guardian to respond to those experiences;
  • Comment on how life with the Special Guardian might be for the child;
  • Any previous assessment of the child or Special Guardian that is relevant;
  • The needs of the Special Guardian or prospective Special Guardian and their family;
  • The impact of the Special Guardianship Order on the relationship between the child, parent and Special Guardian.

Special Guardianship Support will be subject to the approval of the relevant family placement Team Manager.


12. The Special Guardianship Support Plan

Where an assessment identifies the need for ongoing support services, a Special Guardianship Support Plan must be completed.

Other agencies, such as education and health, may need to be consulted about the contents of the Plan.

The Plan should be written in such a way that everyone affected can understand and set out:

  1. The services to be provided;
  2. The objectives and criteria for success;
  3. Timescales for provision;
  4. Procedures for review;
  5. A named person to monitor the provision of services in accordance with the Plan.

Special Guardianship Support will be subject to the approval by the Designated Manager (Special Guardianship Support)

Once the necessary approval has been obtained, the social worker must send the proposed plan to the person requesting support, and allow 28 days for that person to make representations about the proposed plan. The social worker should also give information to the person concerned about whom to contact to obtain independent advice and advocacy. 

Where representations are received, they should be referred to the Designated Manager (Special Guardianship Support) in the first instance to decide whether to amend or confirm the Plan. The allocated social worker must then write to the person concerned setting out the final Plan.

See also Adoption Support Fund.


13. Financial Support

See also Financial Support to Permanence Arrangements Procedure.

Special Guardians must be helped to access any benefits to which they are entitled; this will usually include child benefit and tax credits such as Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit. 

The local authority must also take account of any other grant, benefit, allowance or resource available to the person in respect of his needs as a result of becoming a Special Guardian of a child. Financial support cannot duplicate any other payment available to the Special Guardian.

The Special Guardianship means tested assessment will be considered when ongoing financial support is required. The following will be considered on a discretionary basis and reviewed annually:

  • The initial costs of accommodating a child who has been Looked After;
  • Recurring travel costs in contact arrangements;
  • Any special case requiring greater expenditure due to illness, disability, emotional or behavioural difficulties or the consequences of the past abuse or neglect of a child previously looked after.

Where the Special Guardians were previously the child's foster-carers and are in receipt of household fee payments, the fee element will be protected for two years. Where the foster carers are caring for other children with a different status & care plans, the carers fee element will be adjusted accordingly. After two years the fostering fee will cease but the child’s allowance minus child benefit and the children’s tax credit will continue until the child reaches 18. Following the two year period payments will be subject to a means tested annual review. The SGO applicant will need to ensure that they inform the Local Authority of any circumstantial changes to their finances.

The allowance will continue to be paid until the young person is 18 years of age. Post 18 years the SGO Guardian will be responsible for any financial support for the young person.

Regulation 9 states that financial support ceases to be payable to a special guardian or prospective guardian if:

  1. The child ceases to have a home with him;
  2. The child ceases full-time education or training and commences employment;
  3. The child qualifies for Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance in his own right; or
  4. The child attains the age of 18 unless he continues in full time education, when it may continue until the end of the course or training he is then undertaking.

The only circumstance when the local authority MUST disregard means is when providing financial support in respect of legal costs, including fees payable to a court in respect of a child who is Looked After where the local the authority support the making of the Special Guardianship Order (see Section 4, The Circumstances in Which a Special Guardianship Order may be Made.

Where a young person was not previously a looked After child prior to the SGO application, any allowances to be considered will be processed under a means tested financial assessment.


14. Urgent Cases

Where a person has an urgent need of a service, the assessment process should not delay provision and arrangements can be made for support to be provided as a matter of urgency in appropriate cases. The approval of the Designated Manager (Special Guardianship Support) will still be required. The local authority will need to review the provision as soon as possible after the support has been provided in accordance with the procedures set out above.


15. Special Guardian Duty on the Death of the Child

If the child with respect to whom a Special Guardianship Order is in force dies, the Special Guardian must take reasonable steps to give notice of that fact to:


Procedural Guidance


1. Generally

All notifications of intent to apply for Special Guardianship Orders are to be passed to the Designated Manager (Special Guardianship Support), for recording, collation and authorising of the commissioning of the assessment report.

  1. The administrator responsible will commission the assessment, notify all relevant partner agencies and pass the referral to the senior practitioner responsible for SGO assessments;
  2. This will include existing cases i.e. where the child is already looked after or known to Walsall Children's Services in some way and those that are new referrals i.e. non-agency applications. A copy will be sent to legal services. This needs to include the names of the applicants and the children and their legal status;
  3. On receipt of the notification, legal services will undertake preliminary checks regarding previous care proceedings to identify any complex legal issues;
  4. Legal Services will set up a Special Guardianship notification folder;
  5. If Legal Services receive a notice of intent to apply for a special guardianship order they will send a copy to the Designated Manager (Special Guardianship Support) and keep a copy for their records;
  6. Supervising social workers for foster carers will continue to notify Legal Services of notifications from carers and not rely solely on the exchange of hard copy notices;
  7. All applicants will be advised to seek their own independent legal representation. Where applicants have their own legal representation, their solicitors will check and file their applications. In rare cases where the applicants do not have their own legal representative, our legal services will give consideration to filing the application with the court -if the child is looked after;
  8. Where the child is looked after and the local authority is supporting the making of the order, the local authority will meet the legal costs including the costs of the application. This will be funded from the Looked after Children's budget and must be agreed before an assessment commences. Legal Services will negotiate these costs with the applicants' legal representatives.


2. The Referral

1. An adult referral will be opened on Mosaic in respect of the applicants and a child's referral opened on Mosaic for a child not looked after by Walsall Children's Services. A Special Guardianship file will be opened and held by the senior practitioner responsible for SGO's. The information will be entered on the Mosaic system. A central database will be set up so that activity in this area can be monitored;
2. The original foster carers file remains open unless or until the carers are deregistered;
3. The senior practitioner responsible for commissioning SGO assessments will co-ordinate the assessment and provide quality assurance for the report and the process;
4. The assessment report will be completed in accordance with the Special Guardianship Regulations (regulation 21);
5. The completion of the Special Guardianship assessment and report is a commissioned service and all assessments must be completed within THREE MONTHS of the notification being received;
6. The report will be completed by the assessing social worker in consultation with the child's social worker; the carer's supervising social worker and any other relevant people with knowledge of the situation;
7. The following statutory checks must be completed:
  • Consent for statutory checks -WSS302;
  • Medical assessment -AH1;
  • Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check on all adults within the household;
  • Local Authority check within the area that the family live.
8. Where the child is placed with a carer approved by Walsall, it is the responsibility of the foster carers' supervising social worker to ensure all the statutory checks are current;
9. Where the child is placed with agency foster carers, it is the responsibility of the child's social worker to complete the statutory clearance forms with the applicants;
10. Where the child is not looked after and has no social worker a senior practitioner in the family and friends’ team will complete the clearance forms with the applicants;
11. All completed clearances will be passed to a senior practitioner in the family and friends’ team who will ensure that they are processed;
12. The completed report will be sent to the senior practitioner within the Family Placement Service with responsibility for Special Guardianship, for quality assurance. It will then be sent to legal services and the child's social worker where any potential problems or areas of disagreement can be identified, discussed and resolved;
13. The recommendations of the report will be shared with the applicants and the child if they are of an age and level of understanding to do so. The assessing social worker will consult with service managers and/or legal services to confirm whether any sections of the report should not be disclosed to any parties in the proceedings.


3. Support

Refer to Section 10, Entitlement to Assessment for Special Guardianship Support.

  1. Financial Support can be provided under Section 69, of Special Guardianship Regulations. The criteria for entitlement to financial support is included in the Financial Support to Permanence Arrangements Procedure;
  2. Approval and authorisation of support plans where the child is known to the local authority must be forwarded to the relevant Family Placement Team Manager. If the cost of the plan exceeds £5000, it must be sent to the Designated Manager (Special Guardianship Support) for authorisation;
  3. Where a child has not been previously known to the local authority, the plan must be forwarded to the manager family placement services for authorisation.


4. Process for the Single Assessment of Special Guardianship Support Services

1. The assessment of support needs for children and special guardians must be assessed once notice of intention to apply for an SGO is received;
2. A multi-agency planning meeting should be convened to combine the child's and the prospective special guardians support needs into the special guardianship support plan (WSS700);
3. Good practice would always indicates that this should be undertaken through a meeting rather than a consultation (Regulation 12 of the Special Guardianship Regulations recommends the use of the Common Assessment Framework);
4. Where the applicants are Walsall foster carers the assessing social worker will be responsible for co-ordinating and chairing the multi agency planning meeting. The supervising social worker and the child's social worker have responsibility for drawing up the support plan and seeking appropriate approval;
5. For non-agency cases the senior practitioner from the Family Placement Service with responsibility for SGO assessments will co-ordinate and chair the multi-agency meeting and will draw up the support plan with the child's social worker if there is one, and if not, with all relevant the agencies involved with the family;
6. The letters 2a (WSS389) and 2b (WSS390) are sent by the foster carers supervising social worker to all the relevant parties inviting them to attend the multi-agency planning meeting;
7. Where the applicants are not Walsall foster carers, letters 2(a) and 2(b) will be sent by the senior practitioner responsible for SGO's;
8. The supervising social worker sends the special guardianship assessment forms (WSS137(a)), with 2 copies of the conditions of financial support agreement (WSS395), to the prospective special guardians, who need to sign both copies of the WSS395;
9. The prospective special guardians return one copy of the signed WSS395 together with the completed WSS137 (a) along with evidence of income and excepted outgoings to the supervising social worker or the senior practitioner responsible for SGO's. Original documents are required for evidence of income and excepted financial commitments. Documents needed are : most recent wage slips covering a minimum of a six week period; child benefit payments; child tax credit or working tax credit payments; mortgage or rent payments; buildings insurance; contents insurance;
10. Once these documents have been received, the supervising social worker or the senior practitioner responsible for SGO's, completes the permanence order allowance request form (WSS394) and submits this to the Designated Manager (Special Guardianship Support) for in principle approval of the proposed financial support. The report must cover the following areas:
  • Whether financial support is be paid in regular instalments and if so, the frequency of payment;
  • The amount of financial support;
  • The period for which the financial support is to be paid;
  • When payment will commence;
  • Conditions for continuing payment and date by which conditions are to be met, i.e. returning Review Forms;
  • Arrangements and procedure for review and termination.
11. Once a special guardianship order allowance has been approved in principle, the supervising social worker sends the WSS394 with the completed WSS 137 (a) and evidence of income/outgoings, to the Children's specialist creditors team for calculation of the amount of SGO allowance that may be paid under the proposed levels and the nature of the payments;
12. The specialist creditors' team will inform the supervising social worker of the proposed level of financial support (if any) by email;
13. Before the multi agency support planning meeting is held, the agreements for contact must be completed and signed, if possible by the relevant parties;
14. The child's social worker is responsible for completing the agreement form for contact with a special guardianship order (WSS 324) with any birth family members. and need to obtain signatures wherever possible. A copy of this form will be sent to the senior practitioner with responsibility for Special Guardianship support, a copy will be given to the birth relative and the prospective special guardian(s) and a further copy placed on the child's file;
15. The supervising social worker, in consultation with the child's social worker is responsible for completing the relevant contact form with the prospective special guardian (WSS323).A copy of the form will be sent to the senior practitioner with responsibility for Special Guardianship support, a copy given to the prospective special guardian(s) and a further copy placed on the child's file;
16. Where the child has siblings in other foster placements the social workers responsible for these children will be asked to complete the contact agreements for these children;
17. Once the draft support plan (WSS 700) is completed this will be quality assured by the team manager for the family and friends team;
18. The supervising social worker, or the senior practitioner responsible for SGO if the applicant is not a Walsall foster carer, will send the support plan (WSS 700), with letter 3 notice of multi agency meeting minutes and draft plan, (WSS396) and a copy of the minutes of the planning meeting to all relevant attendees of the meeting;
19. The supervising social worker/senior practitioner SGO, in receiving responses in relation to the above will send letter 4, proposal for SGO support, (WSS391) and the proposed special guardianship support plan (WSS700) to the prospective special guardians;
20. If the decisions from the consultation process or the multi agency support meeting are that no support services are to be provided, then the supervising social worker/senior practitioner SGO sends letter 6, proposal to decline services, (WSS 397) together with a copy of the minutes of the meeting or the Single Assessment paperwork to the prospective special guardians;
21. If representations are received, negotiations take place and resolution sought;
22. Once agreements are reached, the supervising social worker/senior practitioner SGO sends letter 5, notice of decision for special guardianship support services, (WSS 392) with a copy of the final support plan (WSS 700) to the prospective special guardians. This letter should include all of the services highlighted in the support plan, not only the financial aspects of the service. However the timing of the sending of the final decision letter needs to be confirmed by the court process;
23. Once the special guardian ship order is made, the supervising social worker/senior practitioner SGO, needs to check with the specialist creditors' team whether the draft financial assessment is still valid. If it is not then they need to send a WSS137 (b) to the specialist creditors' team;
24. The supervising social worker/senior practitioner SGO will send letter12, confirmation that SGO has been made (WSS401) to the special guardians;
25. The senior practitioner responsible for SGO or the supervising social worker will ensure once the SGO allowances agreed are in place before transferring the case to the senior practitioner responsible for post SGO support;
26. Where there are immediate contact requirements the senior practitioner support will be alerted to by the senior practitioner or supervising social worker before the point of transfer;
27. Once notification has been received that a special guardianship order has been made, the special guardianship file, which will include the support plan and contact agreement will be transferred to the senior practitioner responsible for post special guardianship support.


5. Review of Special Guardianship Support Plans

The senior practitioner responsible for post order support in relation special guardianship, will be responsible for co-ordinating annual reviews and monitoring that support services are being delivered in accordance with support plans.

Special Guardianship Support Plans must be reviewed taking into account the following:

  • Any change of circumstances affecting the support;
  • At whichever stage of implementation of the plan is considered most appropriate;
  • In any event, at least annually.

The reviews may be a paper exercise where there is no change or a minor change in circumstances. However, if there were a substantial change of circumstances, e.g. a serious change in the behaviour of the child, it would normally be necessary to conduct a new assessment of needs.

Where Special Guardians are in receipt of financial support, the specialist creditors' team will write annually to them with a Financial Assessment Review Form to be completed, together with a request for information about any change in circumstances for the Special Guardian or the child.

The Assessment Form will be returned to the Children's Specialist Creditors Finance Section for consideration. If any change in financial support is considered appropriate, the recommended change should be forwarded to the Designated Manager (Special Guardianship Support) for a decision. Where a change is approved, the Special Guardian should be notified in writing of the change, together with the reasons for the change.

Where Special Guardians do not return the Assessment Review Forms within the required time scale, the Children's Specialist Creditors Finance Section will send a reminder letter, giving 28 days notice of the suspension of payments if the information requested is not received.

If the local authority decides to vary or terminate the provision of support after the review, notice in writing must be given and the person concerned should be given 28 days to make representations.

Any change to the Special Guardianship Support Plan will be subject to the approval of the Team Manager Permanence Support.

Assessment for financial support

Please refer to Financial Support to Permanence Arrangements Procedure.

End