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4.2.1 Special Guardianship Orders

RELATED CHAPTER

Court Reports in Adoption/Special Guardianship

See also

Adoption Support Fund (Department for Education / Mott McDonald)

DfE, Special Guardianship Guidance (2016)

AMENDMENT

Section 2.6, Assessment and Recording was revised and updated in June 2016 to reflect the enhanced assessment and reporting requirements (for all applications made from 29 February 2016) as set out in the Special Guardianship (Amendment) Regulations 2016.

This chapter is currently under review.


Contents

  1. Introduction and Background - SGO Process
  2. Working with Children and Families Already known to the Authority/Agency Applications
  3. Issues of Support and On-going Contact
  4. Entitlement to Leaving Care Services
  5. Special Guardianship Records
  6. Non-Agency Special Guardianship Orders

    Appendix 1: Notification of Intention to Apply for a SGO - under review

    Appendix 2: Assessment of Prospective Special Guardian’s Needs for Support Services and Support Plan - under review


1. Introduction and Background - SGO Process

Special Guardianship Orders (SGO) provide an alternative legal status for children that offers greater security than long term fostering but without the absolute legal severance from the birth family that stems from an Adoption Order. It is a legislative route to permanence for children for whom adoption is not appropriate. The Special Guardian 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. There are exceptions to the decisions a Special Guardian can make, for instance they cannot change the child’s surname or take them out of the country without the permission of the court or the agreement of all of the people with parental responsibility. The birth parents also retain the right to consent or not to adoption.


2. Working with Children and Families Already known to the Authority/Agency Applications

2.1 Referral

A formal referral for an SGO, for a child who is Looked After by the Local Authority, can only be made following a statutory review at which Special Guardianship is recommended or at the request of the court during proceedings.

The initiative regarding an application for a SGO can come from a variety of sources, including:

  • Birth parents;
  • Foster Carers;
  • The child;
  • Child’s family;
  • The Department;
  • Court.

Referral following review

A plan for permanence must always be considered at the second review, four months from admission to care. The review must consider any action necessary to provide permanence for the child and the question of on-going contact with people who have Parental Responsibility for the child and significant others. Where the review recommends an application for a SGO for a Foster Carer or Kinship Foster Carer it is important to seek a view from the Service Delivery manager Children (CSDM) regarding the financial support available to the potential Special Guardian prior to the assessment taking place. A notice of the proposal should be sent to the carer signed by the CSDM. Details about financial support available, the eligibility criteria and the proposal notice can be found in The Information Pack for Financial Support in Special Guardianship Guidance for Social Workers. A decision regarding financial support should be made prior to the assessment taking place.

At this point consideration should also be given to the appropriate legal route for achieving the SGO.

These are:

Discharge of Care Order:

If the child is subject to a Care Order, it is recommended that an application for the discharge of the Care Order is made, asking the Court as part of the application to replace the Care Order with an SGO. The SW for the child will need to notify Legal Section so that preparations for the application to discharge can be made.

The carer should be advised to seek independent legal advice in relation to their legal options. They need to consider the advantages and disadvantages of applying for an SGO compared to remaining a Foster Carer/Kinship Foster Carer or whether applying for a Child Arrangements Order or Adoption Order is more appropriate. This advice can be reimbursed by the department at legal aid rates. The Service Delivery manager Children needs to authorise this.

If the carer decides to proceed with an SGO, the Team Manger of the SW Team should then inform the Team Manager of the Kinship Foster Care Team about the case giving details regarding the child/ren and carers. The Children’s team will be sent a Guidance Pack about how to proceed.

Freestanding application route:

Where the child is Looked After but not subject to a Care Order, the carer will need to make a freestanding application for an SGO. Again, the carers should be advised to obtain their own independent legal advice in relation to their legal options which will be reimbursed as above. The prospective Special Guardian, usually the Foster Carer or Kinship Foster Carer should then write to the Team Manager Kinship Care Fostering and should include the following information:- their name and address, the name and date of birth of the child, the Social Worker’s name and area office details, their fostering link worker’s name. The letter should also include a statement to notify the department of their intention to apply for a SGO. The applicant must give written permission for statutory checks to be undertaken and should sign and date the letter. The “Notification” will be formally acknowledged by the section. On receipt of the Notice/information from the Carer or the Children’s Team Manager, an information pack and guidance will be sent out.

Where the child is placed with a Foster Carer or Family Network Carer the completion of the court report (Schedule 21) will be undertaken jointly between the allocated Fostering and Adoption Officer and the Social Worker for the child. The Fostering and Adoption Officer will ensure that any documents and case recording they undertake relating to the application are provided for the Social Worker for the child’s case record. Where the freestanding route to application is taken the Schedule 21 report, which determines the suitability of applicants to become Special Guardians, should be written prior to the application being made.

The prospective Special Guardians will need to instruct their own solicitor to draft the application and represent them in the court proceedings. The department will agree to pay for these costs up to an agreed maximum of £2,000 at legal aid rates with the prior agreement of the Children’s Service Delivery Manager provided that the carers cannot otherwise obtain legal aid for the application. The carers should be given a copy of the leaflet which details the Law firms in Leeds with Solicitors who are members of the Children’s Panel. The above, free standing route will also apply where the child concerned is not looked after but the Local Authority is supporting the carer’s application for an SGO as an alternative to care proceedings. In such cases, the local authority will pay the carer's legal fees provided the following criteria are met:

  • Carer is ineligible for legal aid;
  • There are clear grounds for care proceedings;
  • Carer's application is part of a plan made at a Child Protection Conference/Review or Planning Meeting.

The Local Authority will agree to pay for the legal costs of an SGO application in such cases up to an agreed maximum of £2,000 at legal aid rates with the prior agreement of the Children's Service Delivery Manager.

Again, the carers should be advised to obtain their own independent legal advice in relation to their legal options which will be reimbursed (as above).

Referral during care proceedings

If a report is requested by the court during care proceedings, the Team Manager Children should contact the Team Manager Adoption and Permanence and should provide them with basic details of the child and the prospective Special Guardian. Information and guidance will then be sent through to the Team Manager Children to assist the child’s Social Worker in preparation of the Schedule 21 report.

Referral from Local Authority Foster Carer - applying without the support of local Authority

This is dealt with as a non-agency application (see Section 7, Non-Agency Special Guardianship Orders).

2.2 Counselling

Any action/counselling undertaken must be fully recorded on the child’s File.

Ideally any counselling should commence prior to any application being lodged with the court and the applicant should be advised to seek legal advice where appropriate. The purpose of counselling is to ensure that the nature and implications of Special Guardianship are understood fully by the child, the Special Guardian and the birth parents and that their wishes and feelings considered.

The prospective Special Guardians should be made aware of the need to obtain the personal details of their family for inclusion in the Schedule 21 report for the court. The prospective Special Guardians should be seen at home both jointly and separately. The child should also be seen in the company of the applicants so that a view can be obtained regarding the family relationships. Any other residents of the home should be interviewed and appropriate counselling provided.

The child needs to know and have an understanding of his/her birth Origins as well as to be aware of the implications of special guardianship. She/he should be seen alone if the child is old enough (e.g. over 5 years) and it is important to note that even young children can understand the difference between a ‘parenting’ parent and a ‘birth’ parent. It is essential that the child’s views are recorded and taken into account. Where a child has strong bonds with the birth parents it is crucial that this matter is given careful consideration and contact issues addressed.

Counselling the birth parent or anyone who has Parental Responsibility for the child is essential. The Social Worker for the child is responsible for undertaking this. Any birth parent not agreeing to the application should be advised to engage a solicitor as soon as possible.

2.3 Contact

Issues of any on-going contact should be discussed fully with all parties. Such arrangements may be made informally if all parties are in agreement. However there may be child protection concerns and consideration may need to be given to on-going supervisory arrangements. In the event of a dispute it may be necessary to consider the recommendation of a Section 8 order to run alongside the SGO. Any contact arrangement made should consider the wider family and any other on-going arrangements that may jeopardise the plan.

2.4 References

Where the carers are known to the department the Fostering and Adoption Section are responsible for instigating statutory references including a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, Health Authority and the Local Authority Child protection section checks. If these checks for the carer have already been completed and are up to date for the purposes of Fostering i.e. completed within the last 3 years, then they do not need to be renewed.

Where the applicants are not known to the fostering and adoption section the Social Worker is responsible for undertaking the DBS check. The other Local Authority and Health Authority checks will be undertaken by the fostering and adoption section on receipt of the details from the Social Worker.

The Social Worker/Fostering and Adoption Officer (if involved) will interview three personal references that the applicants have named. Two of these should be friends and not related to with applicant. The third reference should usually be a member of the extended family.

2.5 Health History and Summary

The child

The Social Worker should summarise the information from the last Health Needs Assessment to incorporate into the Schedule 21.

The applicants

Where the Foster Carer or Family Network Carer is known to the department the fostering officer should provide the Medical Advisor’s summary of their most recent medical or provide an up dated medical where this is needed (where the medical is more than 3 years old). They will forward this to the Social Worker for inclusion in the report.

Where the applicants are not known to the department and the request for Special Guardianship has come during proceedings the applicant should complete the medical questionnaire given to them by the Social Worker. The questionnaire can be obtained from the Fostering and Adoption section and will be sent in the information pack to the Child Care Team. The completed medical questionnaire needs to be sent to Fostering and Adoption who will forward it to their GP for a summary. Fostering and Adoption will send the GP’s summary once received to the Social Worker for inclusion in the Schedule 21 report.

2.6 Assessment and Recording

A record of the counselling must be noted fully on the case file. The result/outcome of the statutory checks must be recorded. An assessment must be made as to the suitability of the applicants to become a Special Guardian in order that a recommendation can be made to the court. There is no such thing as the "ideal" or the "typical" Special Guardian or situation/environment. Please consult the SGO Policy for further information.

The social worker or social workers preparing the Court report should be suitably qualified and experienced. There are no specific requirements as to the level of qualification or experience required and it will be for the manager of the relevant social work team to ensure that the allocated worker is competent to write the report.

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.
  • An assessment of the proposed contact arrangements and the support needs of the child, parents and the prospective special guardian.

Limiting factors may include the age of the applicant(s), health issues, accommodation, police record. However, each case will need to be considered on an individual basis.

This assessment must be agreed and signed off by the Team Manager Children and the Service Delivery Manager Children.

2.7 Court work and Preparation of Schedule 21

  1. Lodging the application.

Freestanding Application:

Where there is a freestanding application, an application can be made once 3 months have elapsed from the date of the letter acknowledging the carers’ Notice of Intention to apply for an SGO.

The prospective Special Guardians, who meet the criteria for assistance with legal costs set out above, will need to instruct their own solicitor to draft the application and represent them in the court proceedings. The department will agree to pay for these costs up to an agreed maximum of £2,000 at legal aid rates with the prior agreement of the Service Delivery Manager Children. The carers should be given a copy of the leaflet which details the Law firms in Leeds with Solicitors who are members of the Children’s Panel.

Discharge of Care Order:

It is important in these cases to liaise with our Legal Section regarding the timing of the application. The Schedule 21 report needs to be completed prior to the issuing of the application to discharge the Care Order.

Where an application is lodged during on-going care proceedings, the time limit for completion of the report will be set by the court.

The time limit for completion of the Schedule 21 report in all other applications will be set at the first directions hearing of the application. However there is an expectation in discharge cases that the Schedule 21 report should be completed prior to the application being lodged as this is the report that recommends the suitability of the carers to become Special Guardians.

  1. CAFCASS.

During proceedings a Children’s Guardian will be appointed and will comment on the application and may see parties involved where appropriate. This person will be independent of the agency.

  1. Attendance at court.

The Social Worker/Fostering Officer if involved must attend the court with the applicants unless the court has indicated this is not required.

2.8 Schedule 21 Report

The information required for a local authority report is the same for all SGO applications, whether an application is made as a result of a recommendation at a Looked After Review or whether the court has asked the local authority to prepare a report during proceedings. The Schedule is lengthy and the details required are prescriptive.

It is possible to refer in your Schedule 21 to information already gathered in other up to date assessments. This information should be set out in the Schedule 21 with references made to other reports where appropriate.

Written information should be sent to the prospective Special Guardian and the parents of the child in question outlining the steps the local authority proposes to take in preparing a report and include information about support services and assessment of support needs. A leaflet with this information on it is available for the Social Worker to take out to them. There is a Permanency Guide for Carers, a leaflet explaining Special Guardianship to children and a BAAF leaflet on Special Guardianship Orders. Copies of all of these leaflets can be obtained by contacting the Adoption and Permanency Team via the Special Guardianship Advice Line.

The Social Worker will need to complete a Schedule 21 report on the matter in conjunction with a worker from Fostering and Adoption where involved. The Social Worker will complete the sections on the child and birth family and the fostering officer on the carers. When the report is completed 4 copies need to be provided for court.


3. Issues of Support and On-going Contact

This section should be read in conjunction with guidance for Social Workers on financial assistance available in SGO.

3.1 Special Guardianship support for families

The level and extent of support needed should be established by undertaking a formal assessment at the point of the completion of the court report. This should be completed on the Support Plan outlined in Appendix 2: Assessment of Prospective Special Guardian’s Needs for Support Services and Support Plan (or post order if a Special Guardian has requested an assessment). The report will need to consider the particular child’s needs and the needs of the prospective Special Guardian’s including financial support.

However only a summary of this plan should be included in the Schedule 21 report for court. A copy of the plan needs to be sent to Fostering and Adoption section for review on an annual basis.

All elements of the support plan should be shared with the family (and child, if appropriate) and confirmed in writing.

A plan should be in place at the time of the making of the SGO.

The SGO specialist worker will be available for consultation and advice during the assessment and planning process. Special Guardian(s) will be given a leaflet explaining the range of services available to them whether there is a formal Support Plan or not. They should be encouraged to approach the Agency at any stage for advice and support. Special Guardian(s) should be encouraged to maintain links with the Agency through support groups or by being on the mailing list. The form Core Support Services can be found attached to the Assessment of Prospective Special Guardian’s Needs for Support Services (Appendix 2: Assessment of Prospective Special Guardian’s Needs for Support Services and Support Plan).

Where on-going support is determined from the start, the written plan will detail who will undertake the service provision identified and when and how the Plan will be reviewed and the name of whom will be responsible for arranging the review.

At the time of completing the report for court the agreed plan for Contact should be discussed and the contents formally agreed by the Special Guardian(s). The Social Worker should have sought the birth parents views and hopefully reached agreement about the appropriate levels of contact and support prior to the order being agreed. Where children have siblings in other placements all professionals involved should meet up to ensure any other contact arrangements already in place are not jeopardised by the new plans.

This meeting needs to be chaired by a Children’s Team Manager. In cases where contact is contested legal advice may need to be sought. There are instances where the on-going supervision of contact by Children’s Social Work Services is part of the support plan to the Special Guardians. In these situations the case should be kept open as child and family support cases with a legal status of Special Guardianship so that on-going supervision of contact and reviewing of the support plan can be maintained.

A copy of the Special Guardianship Support Plan, which includes arrangements for contact, should be sent to the Specialist SGO worker in Fostering and Adoption in order to maintain a central record of all SGO support plans for reviewing and monitoring purposes. A copy should also be placed on the child’s file. The specialist worker in Fostering and Adoption will co-ordinate the reviewing process of the support plans.

3.2 Accessing SGO Services and Support

Referrals and assessment

Referrals for SGO Support may come from a variety of sources. Initially all Special Guardians will be assessed with the child with whom they are matched for support and a Support Plan produced as appropriate. This will use information gathered during the assessment, all information already known regarding the child and the needs of the Special Guardian. This will also include any plans for financial support, following the order being made. Any support plans made must be reviewed regularly - see Reviewing the Support Plan.

However, in some cases approaches may be made to area offices after the order has been made. In such cases the eligibility criteria must first be checked, in terms of residency as detailed in the Special Guardianship regulations and with the Special Guardianship worker in Fostering and Adoption. If it is clear that the responsibility for an assessment for SG support services lies with Leeds Social Services an Child and Family Assessment Referral form should be completed. A copy of the referral should be sent to the SGO specialist worker. This is to ensure the Social Worker has access to specialist advice regarding SG services and support and for monitoring purposes. It is important that the appropriate referral codes for SGO assessment are inputted into the current computer system via the local administrative department. On allocation, a file will need to be opened and allocation codes inputted into Mosaic.

The specialist SGO worker will be available for consultation or advice and occasional joint assessment visits.

Recording

In addition to the written support plan, it is important that any Special Guardian support work undertaken is clearly recorded.

Reviewing the support plan

Once an SGO support plan has been formulated it should be confirmed when, how and by whom the Plan will be reviewed. The review may entail the need for:

  • A visit;
  • Telephone contact;
  • Formal letter or meeting to review the plan.

The specialist SGO worker will co-ordinate this process via the team’s administrator. If in the intervening time there is a significant change of circumstances an earlier Review may be requested. If this review relates solely to financial circumstances, written evidence of any change will be required by the finance section.

Once the review plan has been up-dated copies will be circulated to all the relevant parties.

Support for birth relatives

Advice and assistance for birth relatives is available via the advice line.


4. Entitlement to Leaving Care Services

The Special Guardianship Guidance notes that as a result of Regulation 22 of the Special Guardianship Regulations, ‘Time spent under a special guardianship order is relevant when considering the child’s entitlement to leaving care services’. Section 24(2) of the Children Act defines a person qualifying for advice and assistance. This includes a young person aged 16 to 20 who immediately before the making of the Special Guardianship order was ‘Looked After’ by the Local Authority.

Once a child subject to a SGO reaches 15, a letter will be sent out by Team Manager Adoption and Permanence Team notifying them of their entitlement to an assessment for Leaving Care Services.

Advice and assistance will be given via the helpline to any Special Guardian. If appropriate the helpline worker will refer the Special Guardian on to Pathway Planning. Access to Leaving Care Services may be available following an assessment of need completed by the Pathway Planning team.

It is anticipated that some young people may be eligible for financial support equivalent to the leaving care grant to enable them to set up their own independent accommodation near to their employment. This should be written into the support plan if this is required to meet a need where the young person would be disadvantaged. This can be agreed by the Service Delivery Manager. This will not be agreed unless it is written into the plan except in exceptional circumstances.

If the young person wishes to take part in a university course then a grant to fund this may be payable in the same way that this is open to care leavers. This should be addressed in the support plan.

Vacation support would be paid to the young person as part of their grant for university to cover fees and accommodation. The young person would be expected to contribute to the costs at the rate of the local housing allowance plus food and bills - (see post 18 fostering and pathway planning policy).


5. Special Guardianship Records

5.1 The child’s file

All information regarding an application for a SGO will be kept on the child’s file and electronic record.

5.2 Retention policy regarding police checks

Information regarding the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks on SG's must only be kept on file until a final judgement has been made regarding suitability. The date of the check and the outcome and disclosure number must be clearly recorded on file and the actual DBS destroyed.

5.3 File closure

The child’s case file must be closed and archived at the point where the SGO is made unless there is an agreement to provide on-going support set out in the support plan.


6. Non-Agency Special Guardianship Orders

6.1 Referral

A formal referral for a SGO will be received by Fostering and Adoption section on receipt of the Notice of Intention to apply for a SGO, which is completed by prospective applicant. This notification will be formally acknowledged by the section.

On receipt of the notice, a SGO file will be opened and the details will be sent to the appropriate assessment team, who will allocate a Social Worker to complete the assessment. They will be sent an information pack and guidance on the process. The fostering and adoption section must be advised of the name of the Social Worker appointed within three weeks.

The notice regarding the intention to apply for a SGO may come from the applicant or from the solicitor acting for the applicant(s). In cases where an application is likely to be contested or the whereabouts of the legal birth parents are unknown then the applicants should be advised to engage a solicitor.

6.2 Referral from Local Authority Foster Carer - applying without the support of local Authority

This type of non agency application should be a rare occurrence, as efforts should be made to encourage Foster Carers to work in partnership with the department, in order to meet the needs of the child. Early advice should be sought from the Service Delivery Manager Children and the Team Manager in Fostering and Adoption if a Foster Carer wishes to proceed with an unsupported application.

No financial support will be offered to carers who apply without the support of the department. In this situation Foster Carers who have had the care of the child in placement with them for a year can apply for a SGO without leave of the court, once they give 3 months notice of their intention to do so. On request a formal “Notice of intention to apply for a SGO” will be sent to the applicant by the fostering and adoption section for completion.

6.3 Counselling

Any action/counselling undertaken must be fully recorded on the case file.

Ideally any counselling should commence prior to any application being lodged with the court so that alternative orders under the Children Act 1989 or the Adoption and Children Act 2002 can be explored fully with the child, where appropriate and the potential Special Guardian. The applicant should be advised to seek legal advice.

The purpose of counselling is to ensure that the nature and implications of Special Guardianship are understood fully by the child, the Special Guardian and the birth parents and that their wishes and feelings considered.

In counselling, the prospective Special Guardians they should be made aware of the need to obtain the personal details of their family for inclusion in the Schedule 21 report for the court. The prospective Special Guardians should be seen at home both jointly and separately. The child should also be seen in the company of the applicants so that a view can be obtained regarding the family relationships. Any other residents of the home should be interviewed and appropriate counselling provided.

The child needs to know and have an understanding of his/her birth origins as well as to be aware of the implications of special guardianship. She /he should be seen alone if the child is old enough (e.g. over 5 years) and it is important to note that even young children can understand the difference between a ‘parenting’ parent and a ‘birth’ parent. It is essential that the child’s views are recorded and taken into account. Where a child has strong bonds with the birth parents it is crucial that this matter is given careful consideration and contact issues addressed.

Counselling the birth parent or anyone who has parental responsibility for the child is essential. Any birth parent not agreeing to the application should be advised to engage a solicitor as soon as possible.

6.4 Contact

Issues of any on-going contact should be discussed fully with all parties. Such arrangements may be made informally if all parties are in agreement. However there may be child protection concerns and consideration may need to be given to on-going supervisory arrangements. In the event of a dispute it may be necessary to consider the recommendation of a Section 8 order to run alongside the SGO.

6.5 References and statutory checks

The SW needs to verify DBS checks for all adults living in the household over the age of 16. These should then be processed via Fostering and Adoption Section. The applicant will be notified of the rate in a letter sent out to them seeking permission to carry out the checks. The applicant will need to sign and return the form allowing the Fostering and Adoption section to initiate the Child Protection, Local Authority and Health Authority checks as well as the DBS check. Fostering and Adoption section will inform the Social Worker of the outcome. Any details obtained need to be recorded on the case file.

The Social Worker/Fostering and Adoption Officer will interview three personal references that the applicants have named. Two of these should be friends and not related to the applicant. The third reference should usually be a member of the extended family.

6.6 Health History and Summary

The applicants should complete the medical questionnaire for both themselves and the child(ren) and then take this to the relevant GP's for a summary. The applicants will be charged a fee for this by the GP.

The applicants should return this to the Social Worker for inclusion in the Schedule 21 report.

Medical questionnaires for the applicants and the child(ren) will be sent to the Social Worker as part of their information pack.

6.7 Assessment and recording

A record of the counselling must be noted fully on the case file. The result/outcome of the statutory checks must be recorded. An assessment must be made as to the suitability of the applicants to become a Special Guardian in order that a recommendation can be made to the court. There is no such thing as the "ideal" or the "typical" Special Guardian or situation/environment. Please consult the SGO Policy for further information. Limiting factors may include the age of the applicant(s), health issues, accommodation, police record. However, each case will need to be considered on an individual basis. The assessment report must be agreed by the Team Manager Children and the Service Delivery Manager Children.

6.8 Court work and preparation of Schedule 21

Lodging the application.

After three months has elapsed since the notice of intention to apply for a SGO was received, the applicant can complete their application forms. The appropriate number of copies of the application should be submitted to the court. If the application is likely to be contested, then the Social Worker should liaise with the applicant’s solicitor regarding the timing and submission of the application forms and reports. In these cases it is likely that the solicitor will deal with the application forms.

Where an application is lodged during other court proceedings the time limit for completion of the report will be set by the court.

The time limit for completion of the reports in all other applications will be set at the first hearing of the application.

  • CAFCASS.

A Guardian ad Litem will not be appointed automatically in cases of non-agency applications. The judge can however appoint one where it is felt the case is complex or where there are concerns about the care of the child.

  • Attendance at court.

The Social Worker/Fostering Officer if involved may be required to attend the court with the applicants.

6.9 Schedule 21 Report

The information required for a local authority report is the same for all SGO applications. The Schedule is lengthy and the details required are prescriptive.

Written information should be sent to the prospective Special Guardian and the parents of the child in question outlining the steps the local authority proposes to take in preparing a report and include information about support services and assessment of needs. A leaflet with this information on it will be available for the Social Worker to take out to them.

The Social Worker will need to complete a schedule 21 report on the matter in conjunction with a worker from fostering and adoption.


Appendix 1: Notification of Intention to Apply for a SGO

Click here to view Appendix 1: Notification of Intention to Apply for a SGO - under review.


Appendix 2: Assessment of Prospective Special Guardian’s Needs for Support Services and Support Plan

Click here to view Appendix 2: Assessment of Prospective Special Guardian’s Needs for Support Services and Support Plan - under review.

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