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Special Guardianship Reports

The case of Re: B-S (clarified by Re: M more recently) brought into sharp focus the need for comprehensive and fair assessments of family members and friends who put themselves forward to care for a child.

Many Local Authorities find their care proceedings running-over, with significant extra costs for foster care and legal expenses (and further delay for the children involved), due to a delay or omission in assessing family members.

I assess family members openly, analytically and comprehensively, reading their own social work files, speaking to their own families and other people with key insights, and developing a rounded view of whether they are likely to provide good enough care for a child for the rest of their childhood.

I am careful to distinguish these assessments from the assessments that might be carried out for 'stranger' foster care or adoption. On the one hand, there are some applicants who would make excellent foster carers, but who would struggle to parent this particular child given the complexities and challenges involved. On the other hand, there are applicants whose backgrounds are difficult and whose parenting has flaws (who would probably not be accepted as foster carers) but who can provide a specific child with a good standard of care due to their existing relationship and the fact that they represent the best long-term option for that child.

I am happy to use either the standard BAAF forms for these assessments (which I am accustomed to) or a local equivalent provided by the commissioning Local Authority.