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Public Law Working Group issues new best practice guidance on special guardianship orders

23 June 2020
Public Law Working Group issues new best practice guidance on special guardianship orders

The Public Law Working Group, headed by Mr Justice Keehan, has published a comprehensive report and guidance on special guardianship orders (SGOs) for court professionals. The best practice guidance was produced alongside the Family Justice Council, with input from academics and other family justice experts, and the President of the Family Division has given his endorsement for it to be used from now on in any cases where SGOs are an option. The intention behind this guidance is ultimately to improve outcomes for children and special guardians alike. The key themes of the recommendations are:

  • Ensuring full assessments of prospective SGOs are undertaken, with sufficient time given to local authorities in which to complete assessments
  • Where the child has little or no prior relationship with the prospective special guardian, it is likely that being cared for by that prospective special guardian on an interim basis will be in the child’s best interests before final consideration is given to making an SGO
  • Special Guardianship Support Plans should be based on the child's lived experience, as well as that of the special guardian, and must be comprehensive as well as based on the assessed needs of both the individual child(ren) and the potential special guardian
  • The plan should include distinct provisions for the time the child will spend with their parent(s) or former carer(s), as well as planning for and supporting contact arrangements

The MA is represented on the Public Law Working Group and we will continue to keep members updated about further reports as they are published. Publication of the group's main final report, and best practice guidance on the application and case management, Section 20/Section 76 accommodation, and support for and work with families prior to court proceedings, have had to be postponed due to Covid-19, but are due to be released towards the end of this year.

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