New resources launched to drive transformation of support for special guardians
30th April 2021
The campaign follows a successful online event held in February, attended by almost 700 social workers, legal professionals, kinship carers and academics. The webinar Special Guardianship – an agenda for change, took place against a backdrop of growing interest in special guardianship and kinship care.
Special guardians take on life-changing responsibilities for children who have some of the most difficult starts to life resulting from maltreatment. These are typically children within their own family networks. They will often be facing a range of significant challenges as they adjust to their new role yet they face a postcode lottery of support with too many struggling to access the support they and their children need -finance, housing, peer support and specific therapeutic interventions.
Special guardianship has become the main and fastest-growing route for children out of the care system following care proceedings in England, overtaking adoption. But policy and practice have not yet adjusted to the implications of this transformation.
The resources are designed to help social workers and legal professionals, as well as others in the sector, to understand and respond to the specific needs of special guardianship families. They include powerful testimony from special guardians who describe their experience with children’s services, the court process, the challenges they face after the Special Guardianship Order is made and the support they need. Included in the pack are:
- Our new film Special Guardianship – An Agenda for Change
- Our film The First Day of Forever – Becoming a Special Guardian
- Our new online Special Guardianship Resource Pack including a summary of relevant case law
- A recording of the webinar
- A link to an article calling for investment in special guardianship
Judith Harwin, Professor in Socio-Legal Studies and Co-Director Centre for Child & Family Justice Research, Lancaster University, said:
“Research consistently shows that special guardianship is providing children with safe, caring and stable homes. The same research also shows that these families need far more support. It is time to heed these clear messages and recognise their validity. Investing in special guardianship in policy and practice is a no brainer. It keeps vulnerable children out of the care system, promotes their wellbeing and thereby benefits society at large.”
Dr Lucy Peake, the CEO of Kinship, said:
“The growth in special guardianship is welcome because we know that well-supported kinship care leads to better outcomes for children who would otherwise grow up in the care system. We now need a step change in the way we recognise and support these children and their carers. This means national leadership and investment in advice, financial allowances and tailored support services.”
John Simmonds, Director of Policy, Research and Development, CoramBAAF, said:
“Children who have had the worst of possible starts in life through abuse and neglect need a family for life who can enable the child to resume as far as is possible a route to recovery that enables their safety, welfare, development and wellbeing. Currently this single group of children are too often split, with adoption services being reasonably resourced and delivered while special guardianship services are barely on the agenda. We have a primary duty and responsibility to the children and carers involved that this becomes a matter or priority for resolution.”
For further information, contact Professor Judith Harwin (firstname.lastname@example.org).