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ALC publishes response to SGO consultation

Concerns expressed about the appropriateness of encouraging private law applications

The Association of Lawyers for Children (ALC) has published its response to the DfE's consultation on special guardianship orders.

The ALC has expressed concern about various issues in relation to SGOs. It considers that special guardianship is not being used for the purposes for which it was said to be intended.

The Association also notes that many SGOs are made at the end of care proceedings as an alternative to the making of a care order (or sometimes a care and placement order). However, where a child cannot return home and is to remain long-term with family members, many local authorities ask the carers to make a private law application for a special guardianship order as an alternative to starting care proceedings. In some cases this is being done inappropriately, for example where the plan is in dispute and/or there is significant conflict between family members.

This raises concerns, such as: 

Local authorities should be encouraged to use care proceedings rather than private law proceedings in this case, notwithstanding the additional costs. The increasing restrictive financial situation creates a risk that local authorities will use the cheaper option more often and therefore that more children and parents will be left in this position.

For the full response from the ALC, please click here.