Special Guardian

Please click here to visit our dedicated Special Guardianship site

What is a Special Guardian?

Special Guardians are individuals who care for children when their parents are unable to do so. Social workers assess and write reports about the potential Special Guardian to inform the judge about their suitability in providing care for the child until they reach adulthood. The judge, after reviewing the assessment, may issue a "Special Guardianship Order," granting the guardians authority to care for the child and make most decisions on their behalf until they turn 18. These arrangements will not typically have a social worker unless additional support is required. This is called Special Guardian Support.

Typically, children already have a pre-existing relationship with the adults who become their special guardians, such as former foster carers or family members. Special guardians must be at least 18 years old. Special Guardianship falls between fostering and adoption, resembling permanent fostering without the involvement of a social worker and numerous meetings, and differing from adoption in that the guardians do not become the child's new parents but assume decision-making responsibilities previously held by the child's biological parents or social workers.

Living with special guardians provides a sense of safety and security, as it ensures stability until adulthood. In most cases, children can maintain contact with their biological family through "Family Time," with the special guardians making decisions in collaboration with the child regarding these visits. The guardians prioritize the child's wishes, safety, and happiness in facilitating these arrangements.

Who can become a Special Guardian? 

You can apply to be a child's Special Guardian if:

  • You are already the child's legal guardian.
  • The child is living with you due to a 'Child Arrangement Order.'
  • The child has resided with you for at least three of the past five years.
  • You are the child's relative or foster parent, and they have been living with you for a minimum of one year.
  • You have the agreement of anyone named in a Child Arrangement Order as an approved individual for the child to live with.
  • You have the agreement of all individuals with parental responsibility for the child.
  • If the child is in the care of the local council, you have the agreement of the council itself.


Support available

Please see the following document for details of the support available to Special Guardians:

Special Guardian Support


Group support

The online group runs from 8pm to 9pm fortnightly on Wednesday evenings. The MS Teams link to join is emailed to special guardians by Kinship team business support. Please make sure we have your up-to-date email address so you can access the team’s newsletter and all things kinship.

IN PERSON Special Guardianship Group. This takes place on the second Monday of each month 10AM – 12 NOON in collaboration with our emotional health and well being team. There will be opportunity to meet other special guardians, for discussion, sharing of ideas and resources and bite size training.

The venue is Junction 24, Market Way, North Petherton, Somerset, TA6 6DF. Junction 24 is a conference venue which is part of the Sedgemoor Auction Centre, and we use one of the meeting rooms upstairs. In the reception area, the stairs are to the left and the lift is on the right. Once upstairs, the meeting rooms are on the left. We are looking forward to welcoming you. If you are not able to join us this time, the group will run on the second Monday morning of each month at Junction 24 during term time.



Training via The Learning Centre (TLC) can be accessed once special guardians have created an account by sharing their email address with the Kinship duty team and requiring access to training.

There are a range of training available from e-learning modules on areas such as child exploitation, disability and discrimination and equality and diversity to half/whole day online training such as: attachment and safer caring.

A guide to Kinship care

Please see the attached document for a guide to Kinship care:

A Guide To Kinship Care

Special Guardian regulations

Please click here to read the Special Guardianship regulations:

Contact us

By phone:

Kinship Duty: 01823 358222

Monday – Thursday 9 am – 5pm

Friday 9.am – 4.30 pm

By email:


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