Special Guardianship Orders more than triple in two years
2 June 2015 by Julia Williamson
Special Guardianship Orders (SGOs)were introduced ten years ago as a way to secure a child’s long term future, normally with relatives, in circumstances where it was decided that the child could not return to the care of their natural parents.
The BBC reports that the number of babies subject to an SGO has risen dramatically since 2012. The figure has risen from 160 babies in 2010 to 520 in 2014. This increase has happened whilst the number of children being adopted is falling. The last official set of figures for adoptions in England show that in the three months to June 2014, there were 960 initial decisions to place a child for adoption, compared with 1,830 in the three months to September 2013. These figures were released in November 2014, but according to figures cited in the Independent newspaper this month, the numbers are still falling.
There is support for SGOs, but some have expressed concern over their use.
Chief executive of fostering and adoption charity TACT, Andy Elvin, said children living with extended family “is a good thing”. However, he also said there were concerns over whether assessments were detailed enough, saying some family members may not be close to the child before the process begins. He also raised concerns that the level of “post-placement” support was not as high as it was after the adoption process.
Hugh Thornbery, chief executive of Adoption UK, said SGOs had provided “permanence” for many children. He said: “The research evidence points to their success when used in the right circumstance and where the right support is provided to the carers.” But he added: “Adoption UK’s concern is that the drop in adoptions could be partly as a result of over-reliance on Special Guardianship Orders in cases where they may not be appropriate or provide the lifelong permanence that adoption provides.”
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