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The minimum fostering allowance is significantly less than a professional foster care can realistically expect to receive, while enhanced foster carers, who have gone through training and take children with special needs, can receive two or three times more than this.
In many cases, the allowances given to special guardian families are simply not enough for children who have the same needs as those in foster care, but are cared for under a different legal order.
The introduction of the 26-week deadline for care proceedings has reduced the time it takes a child’s future to be decided, but has had a knock-on effect on special guardianship assessments.
Kandyce Downer was only a distant relative, but the review found Birmingham council had prioritised a special guardianship order (SGO) over an adoptive placement, “irrespective of the circumstances”.The first is the 2013 Re B and Re Be-S judgments, which ruled social workers must consider all alternative placement options before adoption.Some authorities and policy experts believe this has raised the bar for adoption, making it less likely a court will approve an adoption order and SGOs, therefore, an attractive alternative.“These are vulnerable children in very vulnerable circumstances – haste does nothing, and the rule of optimism does nothing to help with that,” Simmonds explains.
Changes to the SGO assessment process are just “smoke and mirrors” for Nigel Priestley, a senior partner at Ridley and Hall solicitors.Keegan Downer was 18-months-old when she was murdered by her special guardian.