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What is a Special Guardianship Order?

Special Guardianship is an arrangement where you live permanently with someone other than your birth parents. If this happens an order will be made by the court called a Special Guardianship Order (SGO).

The person who gets the SGO will be called your Special Guardian and will have care of you until you are 18. Special Guardianship is an option if you are unable to live with your birth parents and you need a long-term home where you feel safe and secure throughout your childhood.

Will I still be ‘in care’ if a special guardianship order is made?

No, you will not be in care although the local authority who held the Care Order may continue to give you some support.

How will an SGO affect my relationship and contact with my Birth Parents?

Unlike adoption, your parents will continue to have legal responsibility for you, but your Special Guardian will be in charge of looking after you and they will have greater parental responsibility for you on a day to day basis. The Special Guardian must allow you to have a reasonable amount of contact with your parents unless doing so may cause you harm. If you are unhappy with the level of contact you are having with your parents you should speak to your Special Guardian. If your Special Guardian does not agree then either you or your parents can apply to court for an order for contact.

Who will the Special Guardian be?

More often than not, a Special Guardian will be a relative or a person you have a close relationship to such as a grandparent, aunt or uncle. A foster carer you have been living with may also want to apply to be your special guardian to make your living arrangements with them more permanent.

What if I wish to return home but I’m under a Special Guardianship Order?

Special Guardianship is an order given by the court and it is legally binding. Generally, you will be living under a SGO because your parents are unable to provide the right level of care to you. If you want to return to your parents and this is in your best interests, either you or your parents can ask the court to remove the SGO.

Can I get support under Special Guardianship?

Yes, if you have been looked after by Children’s Services before a Special Guardianship Order was made you may be able to get support. Your social worker will be able to talk about this with you.