Research and analysis

Implementing special guardianship: brief

Study looking how 8 local authorities have implemented special guardianship in the first 2 years after its introduction.


Implementing special guardianship: brief

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request a different format.

If you use assistive technology and need a version of this document in a more accessible format please email quoting your address, telephone number along with the title of the publication ("Implementing special guardianship: brief").


Increasing the scale and range of permanent placements for children unable to live with their birth parents has been a policy priority of Government from the late 1990s. Since the introduction of the Children Act 1989, the main options for permanence with relatives, family friends or strangers have included residence orders, adoption or long-term fostering. The Adoption and Children Act 2002 introduced, from December 2005, a further permanence option for children in the form of special guardianship.

This brief summarises the study which aimed to describe how eight local authorities have implemented special guardianship in the first two years after its introduction. A full report of this study will be published by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering in 2010.

The study comprised an analysis of policy documents and interviews with 38 managers in eight local authority areas and 10 informants from national child welfare and legal agencies. A survey of special guardianship applicants and their social workers in the eight areas comprising 81 carers caring for 120 children was carried out. Case study interviews were also conducted with 15 special guardians.


  • Background
  • Study design
  • Implementation
  • Take-up - who is applying and why?
  • Pathways to special guardianship
  • Experiences
  • Support and services
  • Comparing special guardianship children to those who are adopted or in long-term fostering
  • Further information

Help us improve GOV.UK

Please don't include any personal or financial information, for example your National Insurance or credit card numbers.