Support available for special guardians
If the child has been 'looked after' immediately prior to the application being made then the law says the local authority must complete an assessment.
If the child was not looked after then the local authority 'may' complete an assessment. If your request for an assessment is declined then you will be written to and the decision will be explained.
You will have the right to make representations if you don't agree with the decision.
The support assessment will be completed by the social worker who will seek the views of:
- the special guardian
- the child
- the child's family
- any other professionals
Support for special guardians in Dorset is provided by the Dorset Adoption and Kinship Team.
Some special guardians decide that they do not wish to have ongoing support following the order being made. There is no obligation for special guardians to accept support but many find that it is helpful to stay in touch.
'Stay in touch' service
Many special guardians choose the 'stay in touch' service.
Special guardians do not necessarily have an allocated worker but they are invited to regular support groups. We write to all special guardians once a year to review the support you have and to make sure that it's enough. If your needs change, you can request a review of your support plan and transfer to our next level of service.
Allocated adoption social worker
Special guardians are often caring for children with complex needs in difficult circumstances.
The next level of support available from Dorset Adoption Team, subject to an assessment of need, is for a worker to be allocated who can assist with mediation between family members, arranging contact, advice and support. The Social Worker can also assist with referrals to specialist services such as the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Team (CAMHS) if needed.
Some special guardians request an assessment for financial assistance to help them meet the needs of the child.
Financial support is dependent on meeting eligibility criteria and is means tested. Full financial details will need to be provided by the special guardian to enable an assessment to be made.
Special guardians who were foster carers for the child are entitled to an allowance for 2 years following the special guardianship order and this can be extended. When children were previously looked after requests can be made for financial assistance with legal fees, contact and other costs associated with caring for the child (criteria apply).
Leaving Care Support
When children were in care before the application was made for special guardianship, the child will also be eligible for Leaving Care services (except in some situations).
If you remain in touch with us then we will automatically refer your child to the Leaving Care Team when s/he reaches 16 years of age. A Leaving Care Social Worker will be able to provide advice and support about options available when the child is ready to leave home.