Special Guardianship (Amendment) Regulations 2016

Amendments to the Special Guardianship Regulations in England have strengthened assessment of special guardians and introduced a number of other changes. The Fostering Network welcomes these changes and continues to push for further improvements.

The Government published the Special Guardianship (Amendment) Regulations in England in February 2016. These amendments followed a consultation in the autumn of 2015.

The changes include a strengthening of the assessment of prospective special guardians to ensure that they can fully meet the needs of the child through until adulthood. 

There is also a new requirement to report to the court on the relationship between the child and the prospective special guardian(s), how they will help the child overcome the impact of any previous abuse or neglect, and how they will manage any risk to the child from the relationship between the special guardian and the child’s birth parents.

The Government is also due to publish further proposals for support for special guardians and the children they care for.

You can read the full Special Guardianship (Amendment) Regulations 2016 on the Government’s website, with the DfE statutory guidance here.

To find out more about the impact of the changes, fostering service members of The Fostering Network should contact their practice support consultant.

The Fostering Network’s view

The changes made to the regulations aim to ensure that children in special guardianship placements can have the same experiences as their peers who are adopted, or in long-term foster care, and we hope that these changes will bring greater stability to SGO placements as a permanence option for children.

The Fostering Network believes that there should be no hierarchy to permanency for children and young people, and is pleased to see that special guardians are being considered as another valuable resource in helping to achieve permanency for some children.

Going forward, The Fostering Network’s view is that the special guardianship support needs to be on the same basis and with the same eligibility as adoption support.

For advice and help on the subject of special guardianships, members of The Fostering Network can ring our helpline.

Assessment materials

The latest edition of The Skills to Foster Connected Person’s Assessment, published in July 2015, already covers the majority of the issues contained within the government’s amendments to the regulations to perform an SGO assessment. The documents will be updated to make clear where the new questions fit within the existing assessment framework. For more information about The Skills to Foster Assessment materials, please contact learninganddevelopment@fostering.net