Special Guardianship - an alternative to Adoption

The Special Guardianship Order was introduced by the Adoption and Children Act 2002, to provide another form of legal protection for children who cannot be brought up by their birth families. A Special Guardianship Order gives a person over the age of 18 and not related to the child, legal parental responsibility which is expected to last until the child reaches 18 years of age. The idea is that the child is placed with a non-parent but in a familial setting with a degree of permanence which is greater than can be achieved by a Residence Order. Unlike Adoption Orders, parental responsibility is not removed from the child’s birth parents, although their ability to exercise it is extremely limited. In practice, this means that the child is no longer the responsibility of the Local Authority, and the special guardian will have more clear responsibility for decisions about the care of the child or young person, and for taking important decisions about their upbringing and education. Although birth parents retain their legal parental responsibility, the special guardian only has to consult with them about these decisions in exceptional circumstances. All Local Authorities are obliged to make arrangements for the provision of Special Guardian support services within their jurisdiction, such as counselling, advice and information. • FREEPHONE 0800 1404544

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