Implementing special guardianship

J Wade, J Dixon, A Richards

Research output: Other contribution


A special guardianship order provides legal permanence for those children for whom adoption is not appropriate, and gives a special guardian clear responsibility for all aspects of caring for the child and for taking decisions to do with his or her upbringing. Although the order does not legally sever the child's relationship with his or her birth parent(s), the special guardian may exercise parental responsibility to the exclusion of all others with parental responsibility (apart from another special guardian). Children formerly looked after cease to be so and local authorities cease to have direct powers of intervention, other than those arising from their broader safeguarding duties. Local authorities do, however, have a duty to make provision for a range of services to support people affected by special guardianship.

From a research perspective, very little is known about how special guardianship is working out in practice. This research, commissioned as part of a wider study of permanent placements for children, had three principal aims:
1. To describe how eight local authorities were implementing special guardianship, to account for variations in approach and to identify issues of policy, procedure and resources that have arisen in the first two years since special guardianship was introduced.
2. To explore how the Special Guardianship provisions were being used through analysis of the characteristics, circumstances and motivations of carers and children.
3. To describe the experiences of those seeking special guardianship, including aspects of their experience, progress and support both before and after the granting of an order.

A full report of this study was published by the British Association of Adoption and Fostering in 2010.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherDepartment for Children, Schools and Families
Number of pages5
Place of PublicationLondon
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Publication series

NameResearch Brief


  • looked after children
  • social work issues

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