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OxfordshireChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Special Guardianship Support

Contents

  1. Overview of Post-Order Special Guardianship Support
    1. Which local authority is responsible for providing Special Guardianship Support Services?
  2. Assessments of Need
    1. Who is entitled? (SGR Reg 11)
    2. Who is responsible for undertaking the assessment?
    3. Format of Assessment
    4. Working in partnership with the special guardians and child/ren
    5. Can special guardianship support services be provided without an assessment? (SGR Reg. 11)
  3. Special Guardianship Support Plans
  4. Financial Support (SGR reg. 13)
    1. Reviewing Special Guardianship Allowances
    2. Other Financial Arrangements
  5. Special Guardianship Support Reviews
  6. Transfers
    1. Children subject to Special Guardianship Orders who move into the Oxfordshire County Council area
  7. Leaving Care provision (Regulation 22)
  8. Support to the birth relatives of the child
  9. Child protection
  10. Placement Breakdown
  11. Private Law SGO Applications

1. Overview of Post-Order Special Guardianship Support

The authority (Oxfordshire County Council) recognises that the Adoption and Children Act 2002 and the Special Guardianship Regulations 2005 place a duty on every local authority to establish and maintain a range of support services in their area designed to meet the needs of people affected by Special Guardianship.

The authority is committed to providing the full range of services that local authorities are required by regulations to provide. (Special Guardianship Regulations 2005: regulation 3)

  • Financial support (financial support is only available in certain situations - see Section 4, Financial Support (SGR reg. 13));
  • Services to enable groups for children subject to an SGO; their parents; their special guardians or prospective special guardians, to discuss matters relating to special guardianship;
  • Assistance, including mediation services, in relation to contact between the child and his/her parents or relatives or any other person with whom the child has a significant relationship which is beneficial to the child;
  • Therapeutic services for the child;
  • Assistance to ensure continuance of the relationship between the child and his special guardian or prospective special guardian, including training for the special guardian to meet any special needs of the child, respite care and mediation in relation to matters relating to SGO’s;
  • Counselling, advice and information.

The authority may make arrangements for special guardianship support services to be provided by others on its behalf.

Where appropriate, the authority will provide services that reflect those provided to adopted children, their adoptive parents and their birth parents.

The authority is committed to providing special guardianship support services as part of an overall integrated service for all children and families who are engaged with children’s services and in the context of the local preventive strategy.  It is essential that children who are subject to SGOs and their families have access to mainstream services available to children and families with particular needs.

1.1 Which local authority is responsible for providing Special Guardianship Support Services?

(Special Guardianship Regulations 2005: Regulation 5)

  1. Where the child who is the subject of the SGO was not  looked after by any local authority immediately prior to the SGO being granted:
    • The local authority in whose area the special guardian lives is responsible for undertaking any assessment of need for SG support services and for the provision of services.

Where the child who is the subject of the SGO was looked after by a local authority immediately prior to the SGO being granted:

  • The local authority where the child was looked after retains responsibility for:
    • The assessment and provision of special guardianship support services for the child, the special guardian, and any children of the special guardian for 3 years after the granting of the SGO regardless of where the child is placed or where the family resides.
  • The payment and review of any ongoing financial support agreed prior to the making of the SGO (for as long as the family in question qualify for payments) (Special Guardianship Regulations 2005: Regulation 5). 
    • The management and support of any contact arrangements agreed prior to the making of the SGO (including any changes to these over time) for as long as the need remains;
    • Note: the 'host authority' (where the child and SG are living) has no power to renegotiate contact arrangements previously agreed without the involvement of the 'responsible authority' (responsible for the support) at any stage.
  1. Children who are subject to Special Guardianship Orders and who are living in Oxfordshire but who were not previously in the care of OCC.

    Where immediately before the granting of the SGO the child was in the care of another local authority:
    1. the primary responsibility for providing Special Guardianship support services to both the child and his/her special guardian(s) rests with that local authority;
    2. If requested to do so by the responsible local authority, OCC may carry out an SGO assessment or review during the first three years post-order. Where this is the case a charge may be made to the responsible authority for the work carried out;
    3. If the assessment of need (or review) suggests that additional Special Guardianship Support Services should be provided, and it is most appropriate for these to be provided locally, OCC may supply services if requested to do so by the responsible local authority. Where this happens a charge may be made to the responsible authority for the service(s) provided;
    4. 3 years after the granting of the SGO, responsibility for providing Special  Guardianship Support Services will transfer to OCC as the host authority (for as long as the child/special guardians continue to live in Oxfordshire);
    5. For financial support and contact arrangements see ii) above.

2. Assessments of Need

2.1 Who is entitled? (SGR Reg 11):

Where the child was looked after immediately prior to the making of the order, the following people must receive an assessment at their request:

  • The child;
  • The special guardian(s) or prospective special guardian(s);
  • A parent of the child.

Note:  It is important that children who were not looked after are not unfairly disadvantaged.  

Where the child was not looked after immediately prior to the making of the order, the following people may be offered an assessment of need:

  • The child;
  • The special guardian(s) or prospective special guardian(s);
  • A parent;
  • A child of the special guardian(s);
  • Any person with a significant on-going relationship with the child;

If a local authority decides not to carry out an assessment where they have discretion, they must give that decision in writing, including the reasons.  The person who requested the assessment must then be allowed 28 days to make representations.

The table below sets out which local authority has responsibility for carrying out the assessment of SGO support needs, in what circumstances and who is eligible.

Circumstance Responsibility Eligibility

Child Looked After immediately prior to making of SGO

 the local authority where the child was looked after must provide assessment and support services on request for 3 years post order (and retains responsibility for any financial and contact arrangements made prior to the SGO).

the child, the special guardian(s) or prospective special guardian(s), and the birth parents of the child

 

Child not Looked After by any local authority immediately prior to making of the SGO

the local authority in whose area the special guardian lives may offer assessment and support services

the child, the special guardian or prospective special guardian, any children of the special guardian, the birth parents of the child and any other person with a significant on-going relationship with the child

2.2 Who is responsible for undertaking the assessment?

  • Where the child is subject to an SGO application the worker responsible for the Assessment of Need will usually be a worker within the Fostering Service supported by the child’s social worker if the child is looked after;
  • One year post SGO order and after the first annual review of the special guardianship support plan has been completed, assessments of need for special guardianship support services will usually be undertaken by a worker from the authority’s Adoption and Permanence Support Team.  

2.3 Format of Assessment:

  • Assessments should be based on the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families;
  • Past assessments should be drawn on to inform the assessment of special guardianship support needs.

2.4 Working in partnership with the special guardians and child/ren:

  • Assessments should be completed in partnership with the special guardian(s) or prospective special guardian(s).

Depending on his/her age and understanding, consideration should also be given to involving the child or young person at an appropriate level and to seeking their views.

Where there are barriers to partnership working (for example, learning difficulty, language, culture, disability or ill health, etc.) steps should be taken to support the special guardian or child to overcome these barriers wherever possible.    

The special guardian(s), and where appropriate the child or young person, should be fully informed about the process of assessment.

The special guardians should be invited to any meetings, unless child protection proceedings are triggered and it appears likely that their involvement would be contrary to the best interests of the child.

  • The special guardian(s), and where appropriate the child or young person, should be asked which other professionals or agencies are, or have been, involved in supporting the family. 

The special guardians and the social worker undertaking the assessment should jointly decide which professionals/agencies should be consulted as part of the assessment. 

If the child or the special guardian(s) is/are already receiving support via one of the authority’s other social work teams, the child’s allocated social worker should be consulted.

The special guardian(s) written or verbal consent to share information with other professionals/agencies should be recorded.

Unless safe-guarding or other concerns arise that require consent to be dispensed with, information should not be shared with other professionals or agencies without the consent of the special guardian(s), or where appropriate the consent of the child or young person.

  • Where the child has not been seen by the social worker during the assessment process, consent should be sought from the special guardian to consult a professional/ agency that have seen the child recently.
  • Where a special guardianship family are not willing to give consent for information sharing or to involve other professionals/agencies that the social work judges are likely to have important information for the assessment, consideration should be given as to whether and how to proceed with the assessment. 
  • Where it is identified that further assessment(s) is/are required, the social worker must identify who will be responsible for undertaking them and the timescales for completion.

Other assessment ‘tools’ should be used as appropriate.

2.5 Can special guardianship support services be provided without an assessment? (SGR Reg. 11):

  • Information, advice and counselling can be provided without undertaking an assessment;
  • However, where a request relates to one particular service, or where it is clear that a particular service is required, the assessment can be limited to looking at the need for that one service.

3. Special Guardianship Support Plans:

  • The support plan will detail the intervention and services that are already in place for the child; and
  • The services that are likely to be needed to support the child in placement in both the short and the longer-term and who will be responsible for providing them;
  • Within 4 weeks of the assessment being concluded the authority will write to the special guardian(s) giving notice as to whether it is proposing to provide Special Guardianship Support Services and if so the detail of what services it is intending to provide;
  • The notice must contain:
    • A statement as to the person’s needs for Special Guardianship Support Services;
    • Where the assessment relates to a need for financial support, the basis upon which financial support is determined;
    • Whether the authority proposes to provide Special Guardianship Support Services;
    • The services (if any) that the authority is proposing to provide;
    • If financial support is to be paid, the proposed amount that would be payable and any conditions attached to the payment;
    • The authority should also refer the special guardian(s) to sources of independent advice and advocacy.
  • Each special guardian will be given 28 days to consider the authority’s proposals and to make any representation to the authority. If he/she is satisfied with the services on offer he/she will be required to sign one copy of the draft plan and to return it to the authority;
  • If the special guardian(s) is/are satisfied with the services being offered and return a signed copy of the draft plan to the authority the plan will then be acted upon as necessary;
  • If the special guardian(s) is/are not satisfied with the services being offered the Manager of the Adoption and Permanence Service will consider any representation received during the 28 day notice period and will then reach a final decision as to what services will be provided/commissioned;
  • The authority will then give written notice of that decision, including the reasons for it. The letter will give details of the person nominated to monitor the provision of services (usually the allocated Special Guardianship Support Worker) and will detail when the plan will be further reviewed. It will enclose:
    • A revised copy of the plan;
    • Details of the authority’s complaints procedure.
  • Copies of the Special Guardianship Support Plan will be sent to any individuals/organisations involved in supporting the child or the special guardian(s) in his/her/their care of him/her (including any individual or team involved in providing support for any agreed/ongoing contact arrangements);
  • Where the child is of sufficient age and understanding consideration should be given to the appropriateness of giving him/her a copy of the plan.

4. Financial Support (SGR reg. 13)

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

  • Financial support may be paid to an individual caring for a child who is subject to an SGO. The payment of financial support is at the discretion of the council and is subject to an assessment of need;
  • Support services should not be seen in isolation from mainstream services and it is important to ensure that families are assisted in accessing mainstream services and are aware of their entitlements to tax credits and social security benefits;
  • Any financial support paid by the local authority cannot duplicate any other payments available to a special guardian(s) or prospective special guardian(s) and the local authority must take account of any other grants, benefits, allowances or resource available to the special guardian(s) or prospective special guardian(s) in respect of his/her/their needs as a result of becoming a special guardian(s) of a child. ( See Special Guardianship Support Allowance Financial Circumstances Assessment Guidance Notes);
  • Ongoing financial support, which has been agreed before the Special Guardianship Order is made, remains the responsibility of the local authority that agreed it so long as the family meet the criteria for payments;
  • Regulation 9 provides that financial support ceases to be payable to a special guardian if the child ceases to have a home with him/her, the child ceases full time education or training and begins employment, if the child qualifies in his own right for Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance;
  • Financial support also ceases when the child attains 18 years of age, unless he continues in full time education or training. In that case, the financial support may continue until the end of the course that the child is then undertaking. The course of study must have commenced prior to the child turning 18 for the financial support to continue.

4.1 Reviewing Special Guardianship Allowances:

  • The financial review of Special Guardianship allowances is undertaken annually by the Assessments and Payments Officer and Service Manager of Adoption, Permanence and Fostering;
  • Where there is no significant change in circumstances the format will be a correspondence financial review;
  • Where there is a significant change in circumstances the Assessments and Payments Officer will refer those cases to the Adoption and Permanence Support Team) for an updated assessment of need and a recommendation regarding ongoing financial support.  However where cases are held by another team (for example, cases in the first year following the SGO held by the Fostering Team), these cases will be referred to the responsible social worker/team;
  • Proposed changes are forwarded to the Team Manager, Adoption and Permanence Support and the Service Manager, Adoption, Fostering and Permanence for agreement;
  • The Special Guardian and Finance are notified of the Service Manager’s decision with opportunity for representations being given to the Special Guardian.

4.2 Other Financial Arrangements

Where a child is in the care of the local authority and the Special Guardianship application is supported by the authority,  the authority will meet the legal costs associated with the Special Guardianship application and any costs associated with any later application to vary or discharge the SGO in respect of the child.

The authority will not meet the legal costs associated with a Special Guardianship application if the authority opposes the application in respect of a looked after child and will not usually meet the associated costs if the child who is the subject of the application is not in the care of the authority.

However, the Area Service Manager has the discretion to agree to the payment of legal costs for an application relating to a child who is not in the care of the authority in circumstances where failure to do so is likely to result in the particular child needing to be accommodated by the authority.

Where financial support is not available from the local authority the prospective special guardians may be able to obtain help with legal costs from the Legal Services Commission, although this would be subject to a means test.

5. Special Guardianship Support Reviews

See Special Guardianship Review Form.

  • The SGO support plan will be kept under review by the supervising social worker in the Fostering Team for a period of one year post-order;
  • The Special Guardianship Support Plan will be reviewed at the end of the agreed period (if the provision of the service is/services are time limited) or after 12 months;
  • Regardless of whether any contact has been received from the special guardian(s) in the intervening period the supervising social worker should make contact with them within 12 months of the SGO being granted in order to review the plan;
  • If the family continue to reside in Oxfordshire, and there is likely to be a need for ongoing support, the Adoption and Permanence Support Team Manager should be notified of the date of the 12 month review in order for a member of the team to attend.

    If the family no longer reside in Oxfordshire the 'host authority' should be invited to the 12 month review;
  • If the child is of an appropriate age and understanding consideration should be given to involving him/her in the review meeting if his/her special guardian(s) consider that this might be helpful to the child;
  • Other specialist workers/teams involved with the child (e.g. CAMHS worker, SENCO, physiotherapist etc) should be invited as appropriate;
  • The meeting should review the progress of the placement and the Special Guardianship Support Plan and ensure that:
    1. The support needs of all family members are being appropriately addressed;
    2. The special guardian(s) (and if of an appropriate age and understanding the child) are aware of the resources available in their local area and of how to access them;
    3. The special guardian(s) (and if of an appropriate age and understanding the child) are aware of how to contact the authority should they need additional support services to be activated;
    4. Any financial support previously agreed, is being provided and appropriately reviewed;
    5. Any contact arrangements previously agreed, have been set up and are working effectively.
  • The review should also consider the child’s understanding of his/her own situation (his/her life story and the reasons why he/she is living with his/her special guardian(s)) and how this might be developed;
  • The meeting must be minuted and any decisions reached clearly identified/ agreed with the special guardian(s);
  • If the meeting/consultation identifies that a Special Guardianship Support Plan is no longer required this will be confirmed in writing to the special guardian(s).

    The letter should confirm that should this situation change in the period prior to the SGO having been in place for three years, and if they are at that time, still living in Oxfordshire, the special guardian(s) can re-approach the authority and request a new assessment of need for Special Guardianship Support Services;
  • If the host authority or any specialist services involved in supporting the child/family have not been represented at the review meeting they must be consulted about/informed of any proposed changes to the support plan and their views given due consideration prior to the support plan being updated;
  • If the meeting/consultation identifies that a support plan is no longer required  the manager will be informed and the file closed;
  • If the review meeting identifies that significant additional resources are required, or likely to be required, to support the child/special guardian(s) the Special Guardianship Support Plan will be updated by a newly allocated Adoption and Special Guardianship Support Worker and agreed/signed by the Team Manager of the Adoption and Permanence Service;
  • Within 4 weeks of the date of the review meeting a letter/letters should be sent to the special guardian(s) detailing what support services the authority is proposing to provide/commission and attaching two copies of the revised Special Guardianship Support Plan - see standard letter SG/4;
  • Each special guardian will be given 28 days to consider the authority’s proposals and to make any representation to the authority. If he/she is satisfied with the services on offer he/she will be required to sign one copy of the revised plan and to return it to the authority;
  • If the special guardian(s) is/are satisfied with the services being offered and return a signed copy of the revised plan to the authority the plan will then be acted upon as necessary;
  • If the special guardian(s) is/are not satisfied with the services being offered the Manager of the Adoption and Permanence Service will consider any representation received during the 28 day notice period and will then reach a final decision as to what services will be provided/commissioned;
  • The authority will then give written notice of that decision, including the reasons for it. The letter will give details of the person nominated to monitor the provision of services (usually the allocated Adoption and Special Guardianship Support Worker) and will detail when the plan will be further reviewed. It will enclose:
    • A copy of the revised Special Guardianship Support Plan;
    • Details of the authority’s complaints procedure.
  • Copies of the revised special guardianship support plan will also be sent to:
    • The local authority in whose area the family resides (if not Oxfordshire Council Council);
    • Any individuals/organisations involved in the support of the placement (including any individual or team involved in providing support for any agreed/ongoing contact arrangements).

6. Transfers

  • The authority will cease to be responsible for providing Special Guardianship Support Services to the child and his/her special guardian(s) (other than the provision of previously agreed financial support and the management of any agreed and ongoing contact arrangements) three years after the granting of the SGO, unless at this point the family are living in the Oxfordshire County Council area;
  • In order to facilitate the smooth transfer of responsibility for Special Guardianship Support Services the authority will, where a family is in receipt of ongoing support services (other than those that will remain the responsibility of the authority), make contact with the Special Guardianship Support Team servicing the area in which the family resides 4 - 8 weeks in advance of the transfer date and ensure that they are aware of the child’s situation and the current package of support services that the family is receiving (including the financial support that the authority has agreed to provide on an ongoing basis and the agreed contact arrangements);
  • With the consent of the special guardian(s) the authority will provide any additional information appertaining to the child or the placement that is requested by the host local authority and likely to assist them in fulfilling their responsibilities;

Where OCC is contacted by another local authority which is considering placing a child with prospective special guardian(s) who live in Oxfordshire, OCC will offer support in considering the range of Special Guardianship Support Services that could be made available in the local area and the relevant costs associated.

Note: where the authority has not received formal notification but becomes aware that a child has been placed with special guardian(s) who live in the Oxfordshire County Council area, the authority will respond as if it had received formal notification.

  • When OCC is notified by a placing authority that a child who is living with special guardian(s) in the Oxfordshire County Council area is in receipt of a package of Special Guardianship Support Services and responsibility for supplying support services will transfer to OCC on a specified date (by virtue of the SGO having been in place for three years) OCC (Adoption and Permanence Support Team) will:
    • Request a copy of the child’s original placement report and the Special Guardianship Support Plan;
    • Request a three-way-meeting with the special guardian(s) for the child and the previous local authority to review the family’s likely future support needs:
    • Open a Special Guardianship support records in the child’s legal name and the guardian's name.

If the meeting identifies that the child or the special guardian(s) continue to need Special Guardianship Support Services (other than any ongoing provision of financial support already agreed by the previous responsible authority and/or services to facilitate agreed and ongoing contact arrangements) an assessment of need for Special Guardianship Support Services will be initiated by the OCC team within 4 weeks of the authority becoming responsible for supplying support services (see Adoption Support Procedure).

6.1 Children subject to Special Guardianship Orders who move into the Oxfordshire County Council area

In order to provide accurate information about special guardianship support services a family might access in Oxfordshire, first establish which Local Authority is responsible for supporting the family. 

  • Confirm when the SGO was granted;
  • Confirm whether the child was looked after immediately prior to the SGO being granted;
  • Confirm whether the child is in receipt of a Special Guardianship Allowance or other financial support from any other local authority. 

Special guardianship support services can only be provided to families who choose to access the services. 

  • Confirm whether the family wish to access special guardianship support services in Oxfordshire;
  • If the family do not wish to access support services at present, provide the referring social worker with a leaflet for the family about accessing OCC special guardianship support services.

We require the originating authority to take the following actions to support a smooth transition between local authorities. 

  • Where an existing Special Guardianship Support Plan is in place, we require the originating authority to continue to provide support services whilst OCC reviews the support plan;
  • A telephone review will be undertaken, contacting the family, the referring social worker and any relevant professionals, unless it is agreed that a review meeting is necessary;
  • Where a Special Guardianship Support Plan is not in place, information about support services in Oxfordshire will be provided to the family;
  • Some services can be accessed without an assessment or support plan.  A Special Guardianship Assessment of Support Needs will be offered where necessary;
  • The following documents should be request to allow OCC to work effectively and safely with the child and family, and as a basis for any future Letterbox Service.

Requested information:

  • Special Guardianship Report submitted to the court;
  • Copy of Special Guardianship Order and any other orders in place, exp. Contact Order/Child Arrangements Order;
  • Relevant previous assessments undertaken on the child;
  • Relevant previous assessments undertaken on the special guardians;
  • Chronology;
  • Genogram;
  • Written consent from originating local authority to use and share the information provided.

Required information:

  • Special Guardianship Assessment of Support Needs;
  • Special Guardianship Support Plan;
  • Where an assessment and support plan are not available, a Transfer Summary must be provided instead;
  • OCC Special Guardianship Support Referral Form.

7. Leaving Care provision (Regulation 22)

Time spent subject to an SGO is relevant when considering a young person’s entitlement to leaving care services. Section 24(1) of the Children Act 1989 provides that a young person aged 16 -17 who is the subject of an SGO, or a young person aged 18-21, who was the subject of an SGO when he reached 18, and in either case immediately before that order was made was looked after by a local authority, falls into the category of a 'person qualifying for advice and assistance’. As such he qualifies under s24a and b of the Act for advice, befriending and assistance with needs associated with employment, education and training.

Regulation 22 provides that, for the purpose of providing advice and assistance, the relevant authority shall be the local authority which last had the care of the young person. Depending on the service required, it may however be more appropriate for the young person to seek specific support locally where he is resident, (i.e. health care).

For care leavers, who were previously in the care of OCC, financial support may be provided if they are eligible under the Leaving Care Act. However consideration will be given to the young person’s financial situation and the level of support available to him from his special guardian(s) or close family members.

8. Support to the birth relatives of the child

The birth parents of a child who was previously looked after by the local authority, and is now subject to an SGO, are entitled to an assessment of their support needs on request.

Where the child was not looked after immediately prior to the SGO being made, the local authority may carry out an assessment of support needs on request. The discretion and responsibility lies with the local authority where the Special Guardian and child live.

In addition, the local authority may carry out an assessment of support needs at the request of any person the local authority considers to have an ongoing and significant relationship with the child.

Where OCC was the authority previously responsible for a child/young person who is the subject of an SGO, the authority will seek to provide similar support services to the birth parents, grandparents and siblings of the child/young person as would be made available to them had the child been adopted.

This support may include:

  • Services to enable discussion of matters relating to Special Guardianship;
  • Assistance in relation to arrangements for contact e.g. mediation;
  • Counselling, advice and information.

Requests for birth relative support post-order are likely to come to the Adoption and Permanence Support Helpdesk and may be initially responded to by any of the Adoption and Permanence Support social workers.

Where the request is for advice and information only, this will usually be managed by the A and P S helpdesk phone line. The initial request should be recorded on the FWi file of the individual requesting support with relevant information copied to the child's file taking care to protect confidentiality.

If the enquirer requires services to enable discussion of matters relating to Special Guardianship or specific assistance in relation to arrangements for contact, an appointment will usually be offered. Where possible, these cases will be referred to the Birth relative Support Worker.

Some issues raised post-order may require mediation or support for both the Special Guardian and the birth family. In complex situations and/or where there is a clear conflict of interest, consideration will be given to separate workers for the birth and SG families. 

9. Child protection

Where concerns arise in working with any child/young person who is legally the subject of a SGO and/or with his special guardian(s) or where information becomes known through a third party that raises concerns in line with Section 47 of the Children Act 1989, that a child has suffered from or is at risk of suffering significant harm, the details of the case must be shared with the Duty worker for the relevant CAFAT team and  advice sought about how to proceed.

Where CAFAT involvement is indicated, there should be ongoing consultation between the Assessment Team and the Adoption and Permanence Support Team. Where an Assessment has recently been undertaken by the APS team and/or where there is ongoing and active APS team involvement, the APS team will continue to be involved in the planning of the case. Where appropriate, the case will be joint worked to be negotiated between the relevant managers.

Where there is no active involvement from the APS team but where the eligibility criteria for support are met, it is recommended that the Assessment Team seek advice/consultation from the APS Helpdesk to assist in the planning for the child.

In cases where allegations are made or concerns arise relating to a carer/guardian the Complaints, Allegations or Serious Concerns about Standards of Care in Relation to Prospective Adopters or Members of their Household or Children Placed for Adoption or Already Adopted Procedure must be consulted.

10. Placement Breakdown

  • Where the placement of a child/young person who is the subject of an SGO threatens to disrupt or actually disrupts, irrespective of whether Oxfordshire County Council was the previous  responsible authority or is the ‘host authority’ at the time of the breakdown, the authority will seek to work in partnership with any other local authority involved with the placement to achieve the most appropriate outcome for the child/young person.
  • If the circumstances surrounding the threatened or actual disruption are such that Child Protection Procedures are triggered, the local authority in whose area the family resides will be responsible for undertaking any investigations and their procedures followed.

If OCC was the previous responsible authority for the child/young person the authority will cooperate as fully as possible with any investigations initiated by the host authority.

If OCC is the host authority OCC will inform the previous responsible authority of the threatened or actual disruption and seek their co-operation with any investigations where this is likely to be in the best interests of the child.

Where a placement breakdown occurs, or where there are serious concerns about the stability of a permanent placement on an allocated case, the relevant worker will complete or update their assessment as a matter of priority. The Adoption and Permanence Support Team Manager will be informed and will alert the local CAFAT Manager in order for a discussion as to what further assessment/action is required.

In cases where disruption cannot be avoided, a child subject to an SGO may require a placement in foster care or residential care to meet their needs. Such circumstances will be when:

  • All attempts at intervention to maintain and support the child with his or her guardians have broken down; or
  • The child has been abandoned; or
  • The child would be at risk of Significant Harm by remaining with the guardians.

In such cases, the role of the APS team social worker will need to be renegotiated as part of the plan. In cases where it is the plan for the child to return home, it is likely to be appropriate for the worker to remain involved in supporting the guardians towards this eventuality.

11. Private Law SGO Applications

General applications to become a Special Guardian - regarding a child who is not Looked After by the Local Authority:

People intending to make applications to be Special Guardians for children not Looked After must apply to the Local Authority where they are resident. Initial enquiries of this nature should be made to the Children and Families Assessment Team. It is the responsibility of the CAFAT team to arrange for transfer to the Family Support Team for completion of the assessment for court.

The Local Authority may also receive notice of an individual’s intention to make an application for a Special Guardianship Order from solicitors acting for the applicant. In these circumstances, the notice may be received by the Local Authority’s Legal Services Department or the Assessment Team. If the Assessment Team receives the notice, it should be copied to the Legal Services Department for information.