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The new Special Guardianship Regulations

As trailed at the start of the year.

The Special Guardianship ( Amendment ) Regulations 2016

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2016/111/contents/made

 

These have been introduced by the Government, in response to their consultation about Special Guardianship Orders and the feeling arising from that consultation that some additional factors needed to be included within Special Guardianship reports.  The new additions come into effect for any report that was commissioned (either by request by prospective Special Guardians or ordered by a Court) AFTER 29th February 2016.

That does raise the possibility that someone who asks for an SGO assessment on 28th Feb ends up with a slightly different one to a person who asks for it the next day.

The original Special Guardianship Order Regulations 2005 set out all of the matters that need to be included in a Special Guardianship report, and they add up to sixty eight items in all.

 

The new Regs add

In the section about the child

 

any harm which the child has suffered;

any risk of future harm to the child posed by the child’s parents, relatives or any other person the local authority consider relevant;

And adds to the part about assessing the child’s needs – current or in the likely future

In the section about the prospective Special Guardians

 

an assessment of the nature of the prospective special guardian’s current and past relationship with the child

[Meaning that the report will look at what the special guardian means to the child and vice versa, over and above the pure genetic relationship – one would assume that a prospective special guardian who had spent time babysitting or caring for the child or having regular visits would thus compare favourably to one who was genetically related to the child but had never met them. ]

And on the assessment of parenting capacity of the Special Guardian

an assessment of the prospective special guardian’s parenting capacity, including:

(i)their understanding of, and ability to meet the child’s current and likely future needs, particularly, any needs the child may have arising from harm that the child has suffered;

(ii)their understanding of, and ability to protect the child from any current or future risk of harm posed by the child’s parents, relatives or any other person the local authority consider relevant, particularly in relation to contact between any such person and the child;

(iii)their ability and suitability to bring up the child until the child reaches the age of eighteen;

 

[This is incorporating a concept of reparative parenting into the assessment.  As I’ve said before, one person’s reparative parenting is another person’s social engineering, so we probably won’t know how this is going to work until the Court of Appeal tell us]

The changes are pretty sensible to me. They are additional factors to an existing pool of sixty eight factors. As Special Guardianship is intended to be a permanent solution for children, it must be right that the likelihod of the placement enduring permanently is considered.

The Regulations say nothing about how much weight any of these new factors have to be given within the assessment, just that they are mandatory factors to be identified and considered.

The real crux is in drawing together the factors and making a conclusion. I’m sure that some will argue that there can be no hard and fast rules about what is to be given what weight, and some will argue that as Parliament (or rather Government, as this is by way of Regulation not Act) has spoken and felt it necessary to include these additional factors that they should be assumed to carry some weight and force within assessments, for good or ill.

 

As these are Regulations, they do not impose on the Court a duty to particularly take these matters into account, although they will be delineated specifically within a report now rather than inferred or pieced together through other matters. It would be a somewhat churlish Court that ignored them completely. As I’ve said, it is the weight to be given, and particularly how far the reparative care element is taken that is likely to be the subject of litigation and debate.

 

[We are, I think, a month after the Minister ‘unveiled’ the major changes to adoption law, without seeing a glimpse of what lies under the veil. Maybe tomorrow.]

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About suesspiciousminds

Law geek, local authority care hack, fascinated by words and quirky information; deeply committed to cheesecake and beer.

9 responses

  1. Yeah that`s great but what about the harm that the LA`s have caused and the undiagnosed pernicious anemia the children have , which was used by people involved in LA`s to sexually groom the children in the first place ?

  2. ashamedtobebritish

    Wouldn’t the efforts put into reparative parenting, be better spent on the parents?

  3. Its the references that make all the difference to the SGO – I rarely see any poor ones as to parenting skills..perhaps as applicants choose their referees and can read them !

  4. Pingback: The new Special Guardianship Regulations | Chil...

  5. “one would assume that a prospective special guardian who had spent time babysitting or caring for the child or having regular visits would thus compare favourably to one who was genetically related to the child but had never met them.”

    I’m afraid that I would hope precisely the opposite. In my view, a blood relationship should always trump one based on a mere commercial arrangement. When the chips are down, family can be relied upon – servants can’t.

    • ashamedtobebritish

      You may be right in that relatives are less likely to get fed up or angry with the child, who will display some difficulties after being seperated from parents.
      But that would have to be decided on in each individual case, some relatives aren’t fit to have children nor can they be relied on when the going gets tough

    • Not actually my point – I’m talking about those blood relatives who have an actual meaningful relationship with the child (as in see the child often) versus relatives who have a blood connection but have never met the child.

  6. Reblogged this on | truthaholics and commented:
    Reparative parenting from non-biological parents for looked-after children? Until society (parliament, the government) addresses forcible family separation on the basis of ‘possible future emotional harm’ I fear this is just another cosmetic measure with no teeth.

  7. Pingback: The new Special Guardianship Regulations (Amendment) Regulations 2016 | National IRO Managers Partnership

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