What does the government's amended regulations for Special Guardianship Orders tell us?
The government has announced new regulations on the assessment of Special Guardianship Orders (SGOs), which will come into effect on 29 February 2016.
The Special Guardianship (Amendment) Regulations 2016 follows its consultation response in December 2015’s Special Guardianship Review: Report on Findings.
New guidance focuses on strengthening the assessment process. Professionals will now need to evidence the Special Guardian’s relationship with the child, as well as their parenting capacity to the child’s adulthood.
Community Care has reported that Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson called the new measures “more detailed” and said the government did not expect a large impact on the private, voluntary and public sectors as a result of these changes.
However, as Nigel Priestley, Senior Partner – Community Care, Ridley and Hall, notes in his blog: “There's no news on better support plans and actual support for struggling Special Guardians.”
It’s interesting to note too that there has been no mention of promises to “improve the legislative framework and bring greater consistency to local practice, for example to improve the support to special guardians and children”, as cited by Edward Timpson in his foreword to the consultation response.
These aspects have huge implications for cash-strapped local authorities in terms of future funding implications and human resources, given a rise of some 190% in SGOs awarded since 2010.
What are your biggest concerns in implications for this new Special Guardianship Orders guidance?
As a professional working in the interest of looked-after children there is no doubt that this new framework for kinship care throws up many questions, such as:
What is the motivation behind the government's adoption targets and implications for local authority and court recommendations?
What are the courts thresholds for granting SGOs?
What is the the new legal framework with regard to ‘stranger’ placements for SGOs?
What is the wider impact on Family Justice reforms?
These questions, and many more, will be addressed by key sector experts on the wider implications and national best practice approaches to assessing prospective Special Guardians at A New Framework for Special Guardianship Orders: Strengthening the legal and practice frameworks to enhance child welfare and positive outcomes taking place in Birmingham on 13 April 2016.
Further details can be found here.
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