Today’s publication of the Department for Education (DFE) annual statistics for children in care showed that the use of Special Guardianship Orders (SGOs) in England has risen 20.2 per cent from 2770 to 3330. Between 2010 and 2014 the figure has increased 158 per cent (in 2010 there were 1290 SGOs).
SGOs are court orders made for children who cannot live at home, which allow the child to live permanently with the guardian. TACT has been a strong supporter of the use of SGOs which can give children who have been in care the security and stability they need to thrive. Once an SGO is made the child will no longer be looked after. However, this sharp rise might indicate that the use of orders is extending beyond the original intentions.
TACT CEO Andy Elvin said;
“SGOs were introduced to allow young people stability and permanence. We are, however, worried that this dramatic rise indicates that they are being increasingly used inappropriately. TACT is aware of foster carers being asked to consider special guardianship shortly after a placement is made, or placements being made only on condition that an SGO is part of the care plan. SGOs should only be considered when the time is right for carers and the young person.”
The statistics also show an increase of 26 per cent to 5050 in the number of children adopted (2013: 4010). However, this growth is almost entirely due to the numbers of one to four year olds adopted (76 per cent of all adoptions). Numbers for children older than this have remained static. This demonstrates that the government’s adoption reforms are having an impact, but only for younger children.
TACT is concerned that 38 per cent of care leavers are not in education, training or employment (NEET). This underlines the importance of the recently introduced staying put scheme, allowing care leavers to remain with their former foster carers until they are 21.
TACT is the UK’s largest charity specialist provider of fostering and adoption services. Our core work involves providing high quality and well supported fostering or adoptive families for children and young people in the care of local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland. We have approximately 650 children placed with our foster carers and find new adoptive families for approximately 20 children every year.
A Special Guardianship Order is an order made by the court under the Adoption and Children Act 2002. It enables a child or a young person to live with someone permanently and gives legal status for non parents who wish to care for that child or young person in a long term secure placement. Parental responsibility is shared between the special guardian and the birth parent.
Today’s figures show the number of children in care in England overall rose one per cent since 2013 to 68840.
All figures are as at 31 March 2014.
Further information For further information contact Gareth Crossman, TACT Executive Director of Policy, Communications and Fundraising 07976 389 925 or 020 8695 8120.
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