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Special guardianship

Special guardian image of a boy and woman in a park

Special guardianship is a way of providing parental responsibility for a child. Unlike adoption, the parents are still legally the child's parents but their parental responsibility is minimal.

The intention is for the special guardian to have clear responsibility for all day-to-day decisions about caring for the child or young person and for making any other decisions about their upbringing, like their education, without needing to consult the birth parents in a few circumstances.

Benefits for the child

  • a form of stability without legally separating the child from their parents
  • the chance to build a firm foundation for a lifelong permanent relationship
  • the opportunity to remain within their extended family network

Who can apply to be a special guardian

  • must be 18 years old or older
  • a family member or friend
  • unrelated foster carers
  • anyone who already has a residence order for the child
  • anyone who is already a testamentary guardian for the child
  • special guardians do not need to be married
  • birth parents cannot become special guardians
  • a local authority cannot apply for special guardianship

Support for special guardians

A range of support services are provided to our special guardians. 

Monthly support groups

Join our monthly support groups where experienced facilitators guide discussions on crucial topics such as finance, contact issues and housing. Connect with fellow Special Guardians and share experiences.

Flexible walk-in sessions

For those unable to attend support groups, we offer convenient walk-in sessions where you can discuss your concerns, seek advice, and receive support.

Dedicated phone line and email inbox

Feel free to reach out anytime through our dedicated duty phone line and email inbox. Our team is ready to provide guidance.

Financial assistance (ASF applications)

Navigate the financial aspects of special guardianship with our assistance in processing Additional Support Funding (ASF) applications.

Other Assistance

Beyond financial support, we extend our help to streamline housing, passport, and benefits applications.

Training schedule (under development)

Stay tuned for our comprehensive training schedule designed to empower special guardians. Topics will include mental health in young people, how to access pupil premium and skills for effective caregiving.

Legal support

In the event of a court process to discharge the special guardianship order, our team is here to support you. We provide guidance, resources, and assistance.

Contact the team

If you have a question about special guardianship, you can contact us by email sgoconnectedpersons@southwark.gov.uk or by phone 020 7525 1762.

Page last updated: 05 February 2024

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