Hundreds of foster carers who have become special guardians are struggling to cope due to reduced support from councils, experts are warning.
Malcolm Phillips, manager of Fosterline, an advice line run by the Fostering Network, has said it is receiving significant numbers of calls from carers who have become guardians and are worried about increased financial hardship.
Under special guardianship, which came into force in December 2005, councils are only legally obliged to remunerate former foster carers for two years after the order is made.
Policies around special guardianship are decided locally and some local authorities are choosing to radically reduce or end support for guardians.
Phillips said many carers had been left feeling “duped” into becoming guardians after finding they were significantly worse off.
Once a child is subject to a special guardianship order, which lasts until they turn 18, they are no longer the responsibility of the local authority.
Special guardians have more freedom to make decisions about the child in their care and special guardianship orders were meant to be particularly appropriate for older children in long-term fostering arrangements.
Kevin Williams, chief executive of fostering agency Tact, said that while some councils had good policies around support for special guardians, others did not.
It has also emerged that some councils are subjecting carers to pressure to apply for special guardianship and are threatening to remove children elsewhere if they do not comply.