Rapid Evidence Review on Special Guardianship to be Carried Out

Published: 13th December 2018

Rapid Evidence Review on Special Guardianship to be Carried Out

The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory, the Family Justice Council and CoramBAAF will be working together to address pressing issues regarding Special Guardianship, in the hope to review protocols and deliver Court Orders which are fairer and more family-focused.

Commissioned by the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory, CoramBAAF will be carrying out a rapid evidence review on Special Guardianship which will work to support children and their carers in the coming months. The adoption and fostering academy – CoramBAAF – will underpin the Family Justice Council as they seek to revise protocols and guidance for both the family courts and local authorities alike.

What is Special Guardianship?

Special Guardianship appoints one or more individuals to be a dependant child’s legal guardian until that child reaches the age of 18. Under a Special Guardianship Order, the guardian will be responsible for making day-to-day decisions regarding the health, welfare and lifestyle of the child.

The private law order, which was made under the Children Act 1989, is intended for those children who cannot live with their birth parents due to legal reasons, and would benefit from a secure placement in a family unit.

The Current Problems of Special Guardianship

Despite the lifelong impact Special Guardianship Orders have on both children and their carers, the current process still involves a number of compromises and the Court of Appeal now recognise that the order does not place importance on a well thought out beginning to a new family life for the child. In turn, the court accept that improvements need to be made, hence the rapid evidence review which is set to complete early in the new year.

Who Will be Heading Up the Team for the Review?

Mr Justice David Williams and HHJ Jane Probyn will be leading the review on behalf of the Family Justice Council, supported by Adoption and Special Guardianship board member and chairman of the Kinship Care Alliance, John Simmonds of CoramBAAF.

Other members of the team who will be reviewing the Special Guardianship Order include CoramBAAF’s legal consultant and barrister, Alexandra Conroy-Harris; Centre for Child and Family Justice Research’s Professor Judith Harwin and Lily Golding. Lancaster University will also provide a formal ethical review of the project, as well as providing rapid access to a ‘wealth of literature’.

Changes to Special Guardianship in the Future

The following set of questions will be the focus of the rapid evidence review on Special Guardianship:

  • What is the stability of Special Guardianship placements and their disruption rates?
  • What is the impact on, and experience of, those carers who become Special Guardians?
  • What is the impact on, and experience of, the children who are subject to Special Guardianship Orders?
  • What are the current system and practice barriers to the effective implementation of existing guidance and best practice?

The rapid evidence review, which will draw together published evidence and practitioner perspectives in a single accessible document, is set for completion in February 2019 where it will be available on the Nuffield FJO website.

The team at K J Smith Solicitors have a wealth of experience in all aspects of family law involving children. For more information or to arrange a free 45 minute consultation with a member of our team, please contact K J Smith Solicitors today on 01491 630000 (Henley on Thames), 0118 418 1000 (Reading), 01753 325000 (Windsor), 01256 584000 (Basingstoke) 01483 370100 (Guildford), 01494 629000 (Beaconsfield), 01235 375500 (Abingdon) and 01344 513000 (Ascot).

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