Laura Sharman 17 May 2018

Ombudsman upholds 70% of complaints about Special Guardianship Orders

The local government ombudsman has revealed it has upheld 70% of complaints made about the way councils support special guardians.

In a new report, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman highlighted the need for councils to provide the right support and guidance to carers and children subject to Special Guardianship Orders.

A Special Guardianship Order gives children more permanence than a regular fostering arrangement.

The ombudsman found some councils did not give people the right advice before becoming a special guardian, being unclear about the support available and incorrectly calculating the allowance.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, Michael King said: ‘Many of these guardians are also family members, and take on their role willingly, but with little notice and without understanding the consequences. It is imperative, therefore, that these children and their guardians get the right support available to them – and without having to fight the system to get what they are entitled to.

‘Many of the investigations detailed in the report have resulted in councils taking positive steps to improve their practices. I would encourage all councils that have a duty to support special guardians to learn from this report and ensure their policies and procedures include the proper provisions for families.’

In response, Cllr Richard Watts chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said: 'The LGA has long argued for stronger national oversight of the needs of this group of children and carers, and we are pleased that the Government has now extended the remit of the Adoption Leadership Board to also cover special guardianship orders.

'Recent legislative changes to extend the adoption support fund and virtual school head support to children looked after under special guardianship arrangements were also strongly supported by local government. If properly funded, these provisions should help provide vital additional support for these children and their carers.'

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