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Nagalro responds to government’s consultation on special guardianship

Association calls for best practice to be more consistently applied

Nagalro, the professional association for Family Court Advisers, Children's Guardians and Independent Social Workers, has published its response to the Government's consultation on special guardianship.

Recently the DfE published research into local authority practice in respect of special guardianship orders.

Overall, Nagalro considers that where children cannot live with their birth parents placement under special guardianship with relatives offers the best option if rigorously assessed as safe and the balance of risk and benefit is positive.

The association believes that generally the legal framework works well.

It has concerns about delays in the process caused, for example, by parents refusing to agree to grandparents and other potential carers being informed for various reasons and by social workers (for reasons of confidentiality) being reluctant to share information against the wishes of parents. The result is that often potential carers come forward only quite late in the day.

Nagalro also believes that at times the quality of SG assessments is insufficiently rigorous and that many prospective SGs lack advice at various stages of the process.

The response concludes that since its inception almost ten years ago the special guardianship provision has been a most positive and beneficial addition to the 'menu' of orders available to the family courts to meet the needs of children and no substantial changes are needed in the legal framework or practice other than those proposed above. For the most part it is from the lack of resources for the adequate provision of professional (legal and social work) advice and support and assessment services that the difficulties have arisen and the variability between different areas and LA provision of services, which should be placed on a firmer statutory footing if the best practice is to be universal.

The response is here.