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4.3.3 Special Guardianship Process and Tracking

More detailed information about Special Guardianship Orders and Special Guardianship Support is contained in the chapter: Applications for Special Guardianship Procedure.

See also Guidance for Parents and Carers on Circumstances where the Local Authority will help with Legal Costs and Long Term Plans for Children Looked After and Referrals to Oxfordshire's Adoption and Permanency Panel and the Fostering Panel.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in September 2010.


Contents

  1. Application and Assessment Process for Special Guardians of Looked After Children
  2. Finance
  3. Special Guardianship Tracking and Reporting Process


1. Application and Assessment Process for Special Guardians of Looked After Children

See also Long Term Plans for Children Looked After and Referrals to Oxfordshire's Adoption and Permanency Panel and the Fostering Panel.


1. Prospective Special Guardians discuss with, or make known to, their social worker that they are considering a Special Guardianship application. 
2.

A discussion meeting (involving the child’s social worker, the supervising social worker and team manager, and the prospective Special Guardians) will be held and chaired by the team manager for the child’s social worker. Discussion may involve and cover:

  • A Family Group Conference - ensure this has been discussed/booked and the reasons recorded if one has not taken place

  • Outline of Special Guardianship
  • Discussion of legal issues (processes, costs)
  • Risk assessment
  • Immediate and future support needs for child and carers
  • Contact arrangements
  • Liaison with other professionals
  • Financial support (allowances, financial assessment)
  • Questions from prospective Special Guardians
  • Any other issues
3. The Area Social Care Manager’s agreement to recommendations resulting from the discussion meeting should be sought.
4. A decision regarding Special Guardianship as part of the Permanence Plan is made at the child’s Looked After Review.
5.

Where the Adoption and Permanency Panel has already recommended that the child be placed for adoption, and this has been approved by the Agency Decision Maker, the Panel should be informed of the change of plan via a written update. The update should include the original Child’s Permanence Report and an addendum with the revised Care Plan along with any agreement from the child’s review or the Assistant Head of Service, Quality Assurance. Advice from the Panel can also be sought if necessary at this stage.

6.

The child’s social worker and the supervising social worker complete the Special Guardianship Referral Form and attach the Chronology, Looked After Review and proposed Care Plan. These are passed to, and the Referral Form signed by, the Team Managers of both social workers involved. (A copy of the Referral Form is passed to the SGO List holder (currently the Service Manager for Adoption and Permanence) for tracking.)

7. The paperwork is sent to the Adoption and Permanence Service Manager for agreement to financial support (subject to financial assessment - see Section 2, Finance).
8. Agreement is given by the Strategic Lead, CLA and the decision is communicated to the Service Manager, Team Managers and social workers involved.
9. The prospective Special Guardian applies to the court and/or notifies the Agency.


Oxfordshire’s Best Practice Requirements - Regarding Special Guardianship and Panel

The following plans for children must be referred to the Adoption and Permanency Panel for a recommendation and subsequent decision by the Agency Decision Maker.

  1. Long-term fostering with a view to a Special Guardianship Order (when the Special Guardian is not yet identified)
  2. Changes made to permanency plans which have already been approved by Panel other than a plan to rehabilitate to birth parents, i.e.:
    1. From adoption to an SGO
    2. From long-term fostering or SGO to adoption

A plan recommending a Special Guardianship Order should not generally be considered as the first option for a child under the age of 6 unless the proposed special guardian is a member of the child’s extended family. Exceptional circumstances may apply in individual cases.

A plan recommending a Special Guardianship Order for a Looked After child will be subject to the Looked After Review system supervised by an Independent Reviewing Officer.

Once the plan, and any necessary support package, has been put forward at a Looked After Review it must be referred to the Service Manager with responsibility for the support services and the Strategic Lead for Children Looked After for ratification before any steps are taken to implement or formally recommend it.


Court Report and Support Assessment

10. The supervising social worker and child’s social worker complete the report for court and the support assessment within the 3 months time frame. See Court Reports Guidance for the detailed contents of the report.


Support Plan

11. A Special Guardianship Support Plan is developed for cases where the support assessment identified the need for ongoing support. The proposed Plan is sent to the Service Manager, Adoption and Permanence for agreement and then to the person requesting support, with 28 days for representations
12. Any representations received should be forwarded to the Service Manager, Adoption and Permanence for decision on amendment or confirmation of the Plan.
13. The Service Manager, Adoption and Permanence will notify his or her decision in writing.


Review of Special Guardianship Support Plan

See Special Guardianship Review Form.

 

14. Special Guardianship Support Plans will be reviewed annually, unless an earlier review is deemed appropriate. The Supervising Social Worker will notify the Service Manager, Adoption and Permanence of review dates. (See Section 3, Special Guardianship Tracking and Reporting Process). NB the SGO Finance Officer also keeps a record of the review dates for financial information.

 

The Social worker who completed the assessment for the Guardians will become the named social work contact for the first year following the Special Guardian Order being made. In cases of Looked After Children, this will be the Fostering Supervising Social Worker. For cases where the child is being managed by the Family Support Teams (not looked after children but those who may be part of a Child Protection Plan, the first year support needs will be managed by the Family Support Team

 

15. A new assessment of need will be conducted if there have been major changes since the Support Plan was drawn up.
16.

Proposals to continue, change or terminate the Plan will be referred to the Service Manager, Adoption and Permanence for a decision. The Service Manager will confirm changes in writing to the Special Guardians with 28 days opportunity for representation.


2. Finance

See also Guidance for Parents and Carers on Circumstances where the Local Authority will help with Legal Costs.


Financial Assessment Process

1. The Special Guardianship Support Payments Details of Financial Circumstances Form is completed by the prospective Special Guardian.
2. The form is passed to the SGO Finance Officer for assessment.
3. Finance notifies the supervising social worker of the outcome. The social worker informs their Team Manager and the Area Social Care Manager of the outcome.
4. Details of the outcome are entered on the Support Plan
5. Financial support will be reviewed annually, unless a review is deemed necessary at an earlier date.


Review of Financial Support

6. A Financial Assessment Review Form is completed by the Special Guardian. The Finance Officer SGO will write to Special Guardians and request a review of their financial circumstances on an annual basis unless otherwise determined by the Special Guardian. If the form is not returned within 2 weeks, a reminder is sent with 28 days notification of suspension of payments unless the form is returned by the deadline stated.
7. The supervising social worker is notified of the assessment outcome and proposed changes are forwarded to the Service Manager, Adoption and Permanence for agreement.
8. The Special Guardian and Finance are notified of the Service Manager’s decision with opportunity for representations being given to the Special Guardian.


Other Financial Support

9. The supervising social worker will help Special Guardians access any benefits to which they are entitled.


3. Special Guardianship Tracking and Reporting Process

The social workers involved are responsible for notifying the Service Manager, Adoption and Permanence of the information needed for tracking on the spreadsheet.

Application Tracking

The supervising social worker will notify the Service Manager, Adoption and Permanence of the following details by sending a copy of the Referral Form that includes:

  • Child's SW
  • Child's SW Team
  • Child's Surname
  • Child's First Name
  • Child's D.O.B
  • Child's Gender
  • Child's Ethnicity
  • Child's Looked After Status (LAC/Non LAC)
  • Date Child Became Looked After
  • Date of Court Order
  • Is this a private application?
  • Is this a direct alternative to the child being in care?
  • Family Placement Worker
  • Family Placement Team
  • Reason episode ceased
  • E43 SGO made to former foster carers
  • E44 SGO made to carers other than former foster carers

Review Tracking

The Service Manager, Adoption and Permanence will record the following information on the spreadsheet in consultation with the supervising social worker:

  • Is there a Support Plan?
  • Date Support Plan Agreed by Service Manager
  • Date Support Plan to be Reviewed
  • Date Support Plan Reviewed
  • Is Financial Support Provided?
  • Date Financial Support agreed by Service Manager
  • Date Financial Support Review Due
  • Date Financial Support Reviewed

Reporting

The Service Manager, Adoption and Permanence will provide monthly reports for the Service Managers and Team Managers detailing the numbers and names of current applications and assessments, orders granted and reviews due. (This may be communicated via the PIU spreadsheet).

Forms to Complete Process

  • Front Sheet for Plan for Special Guardianship for a child already Looked After
  • Special Guardianship Referral Form for LAC
  • Support Plan

End