Special Guardianship Orders

Special Guardianship Orders are a way to ensure children live with a safe and permanent carer if, for any reason, they are not able to live with their birth parents.

How a Special Guardianship Order is made

A Special Guardianship Order (known as an SGO) is a court order made by a judge that gives the Special Guardian parental responsibility over the child. This means that they will be able to make most decisions about the child’s upbringing until they turn 18. This includes where they live, go to school, and being able to provide consent to most medical treatments.

It’s an alternative to adoption or long term fostering, where keeping a legal and parental relationship between the child and their birth parents may be important, but the child needs an adult who can make decisions on their behalf.

Carers who have been looking after a child for 12 weeks or more can apply for an SGO if they want to, and birth parents are still able to see the child, unless it is thought to be unsafe.

When a Special Guardianship Order can be used

It may be used when:

  • a child has been in long term foster care
  • a child is looked after permanently by another family member
  • a child may be a bit older and still want to have that legal relationship with their birth parents, but would benefit from more permanent care arrangements
  • adoption isn’t the right step, but more permanent substitute care needs to be in place

Who can apply for a Special Order Guardianship

The following people can apply for an SGO:

  • a guardian of the child
  • a family member that the child has been living with for at least a year
  • anyone you give permission to or the courts give permission to
  • a foster carer who’s currently looking after the child (for over 1 year)

Our Connected Persons Team can help with any issues, training, support groups and life story work that Special Guardians may need when supporting a child in their care.

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