Government launches review of special guardianship orders

A consultation from the Department for Education is seeking the sector's views on whether the legal framework for special guardianship orders needs changing

The government has launched a review of special guardianship orders amid concerns over how they are being used.

The Department for Education review includes a consultation seeking views on whether the legal framework underpinning the orders needs to changed.

The consultation comes at a time where the sharp rise in the number of special guardianship placements has led to concerns the orders are being used inappropriately.

The consultation is asking for views on:

  • Whether there are any changes needed to the legal and/or practice framework in which special guardianship decisions are made, or whether the current framework works well.
  • How well assessment for special guardians works at the moment, and whether this could be improved.
  • What advice and support is most important at each stage of a special guardianship order.
  • What the best practice in special guardianship looks like so that we can support all practitioners to deliver this.


The document cites concerns from local authorities that the threshold for placing children with relatives is lower than for other forms of permanence.

“There are different options that might be considered to address these concerns, for example putting the assessment of special guardians on a par with the assessment of foster carers and adopters. This is one of the areas on which we are seeking views,” the document said.

The impact of the new public law outline, which put a 26 week time limit on standard care cases, has meant that the assessment of special guardians is happening over short timescales, resulting in some orders being awarded on incomplete or partial information, local authorities have told the DfE.

The consultation closes on 18 September.

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