A special guardianship order is an order which is intended to secure the placement of a child or young person with their carer (often a grandparent, close relative or a family friend) that has the effect of the special guardian(s) sharing parental responsibility for the young person with the parents, but being able to make many major decisions about the child without having to get the consent of the parents.

A special guardian can be entitled to a special guardianship allowance payment. The maximum level of payment of this is linked to the local level of foster allowances paid for a child. The payment made would be subject to financial assessment of the special guardian’s circumstances.

In broad terms, the financial assessment looks at the special guardian’s income, their outgoings and any financial needs that arise in respect of the child’s particular circumstances.

It is most important to consider all aspects of the special guardianship support plan including of course the allowance proposed to be paid and how that has been calculated.

Recently, the local government ombudsmen was critical of a local authority for its calculation of allowance payment. The criticism was that the local authority did not take into account a previous recommendation from the local government ombudsmen that special guardians should receive within the special guardianship allowance additional payments for any difficulties identified with a particular child.

It is important that special guardianship support plans reflect the particular individual needs of the child or children that they are concerned with;    that the allowances are the correct allowances and that the support plans clearly identify the longer term needs of the children.

Potential special guardians need to be careful to ensure the right plans are in place with the right allowances paid and also that longer term plans for the children have been taken account of.