We all know about the increasing number of children in the care system in the UK. The sad reality for some children, having been through the care system, is a sense of not belonging and utter loneliness.
What we rarely hear about, are those family members and close friends who recognise a child in crisis and step forward to provide the care and love that their parents, however much sometimes they try, simply cannot.
It is these selfless Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Godparents or just family friends that put the ‘special’ into Special Guardianship Orders (SGOs).
But what do you do if you have stepped in and find yourself caring for a child? Can you sign the school trip forms, can you agree to their medical needs, can you afford the new trainers they want? The questions can be endless and often the help is not obvious.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions:
1. What is a Special Guardianship Order?
Special Guardianship is a formal Order which places the child with a carer on a permanent basis until that child becomes 18 years old. The carers can be anyone related to the child, or a close friend. An SGO gives the holder Parental Responsibility for the child.
2. What is Parental responsibility?
In practical terms Parental Responsibility means the power to make some of the important decisions in relation to a child.
3. How does it differ from other orders available to me, such as Adoption or Child Arrangements Orders?
(i) Unlike adoption, an SGO will not remove the birth parents Parental Responsibility and for some major decisions (such as changing their surname) the Special Guardians would need to consult the parents.
(ii) Unlike a Child Arrangements Order though, for other day to day decisions (such as signing the school forms), the Special Guardian will be able to exercise their parental responsibility without the birth parents input. This makes daily life a lot easier, particularly if the child’s parents are hard to get hold of or generally avoid making any decisions.
4. Will I get any help?
Yes, your Local Authority must make arrangements for the provision of Special Guardianship Support services. Support can be both financial and practical, in supplying or identifying services available to you.
At Penmans Solicitors, we provide initial free consultations in respect of all child care issues. We have dedicated child solicitors who specialise in advice that will identify the right order for you.
Please call Sarah Trundley for a free initial discussion.