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CoramBAAF expresses concern about use of Special Guardianship Orders

SGOs are too often made ‘without sufficient background checks’

Concerns have been raised by CoramBAAF about the use of Special Guardian Orders (SGO), following the murder of an 18-month-old baby.
Toddler Keegan Downer was tragically killed by a distant relative who was caring for her under an SGO.

On 5 May 2016 John Simmonds, Director of Policy, Research and Development at CoramBAAF, said:

"The tragic death of Keegan Downer is a stark reminder of the enormous responsibilities of local authorities and the courts when a vulnerable child is removed from their birth parents and placed with alternative carers.

"Special Guardianship was introduced in 2005 as a legal Order that gives parental responsibility to the carer and is the basis for the family life that every child needs.  It has become a well used order since its introduction.  But there are too many examples where courts are making the order without sufficient background checks or evidence that the child will be cared for in a way that is safe and centred on what the child's needs.  

"The government has very recently introduced some changes in the law to focus on these questions but they have not addressed the need for time, resources and professional expertise being available to prospective Special Guardians. Nothing could be more important when the primary issue is the safety of welfare of the child.  We cannot be confident that the death of Keegan will be the last unless government and the courts urgently act to address this."