Becoming a Special Guardian

Special guardianship order (SGO)

Special guardianship orders provide a permanent legal care arrangement for children who cannot be cared for in the long term by their birth parents. It is an alternative to other permanence options such as adoption or long term fostering of a child by a local authority. Unlike adoption, special guardianship does not end the legal relationship between the child and their parents who continue to have parental responsibility and will have to be consulted in certain situations. Also unlike adoption, an SGO can be varied or discharged in some circumstances.

Special guardians

A special guardianship order (SGO) appoints one or more people to be a child's Special Guardian. The SGO gives the special guardians parental responsibility for the child and they take on the legal powers and responsibilities of parenting the child until their 18th birthday. This includes taking most decisions concerning the child's upbringing for example where they live, which school they attend and consent for most medical treatment.

Support for special guardians

Oxfordshire have a range of support services available to special guardianship families. The local authority which places the child will be responsible for the support needs of the family for three years after the date on which the SGO is made. After that time, the responsibility falls to the local authority where the special guardian lives.

Support might include:

  • Advice about special guardianship for families and professionals.
  • Help with contact between a child, his/her parents or relatives.
  • Support groups.
  • Training programmes and workshops.
  • Therapeutic services for the child.
  • Financial support for the special guardian.

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