The First Day of Forever: A Journey to Special Guardianship

silhouette of lady with pram

22 July 2020

Grandparents Plus in partnership with the Centre for Child and Family Justice Research at Lancaster University and CoramBAAF have created a short film The First Day of Forever: A Journey to Special Guardianship.

The film captures the experiences of special guardians and the rewards and challenges of bringing up relatives’ children, with five special guardians sharing their journeys from the initial approach by children’s services, their experiences of court and challenges in the parenting role, including contact with birth parents and access to support.

A Special Guardianship is an order made by the Family Court that places a child or young person to live with someone other than their parent(s) on a long term basis. The person(s) with whom a child is placed will become the child's Special Guardian.

The film gives an honest insight in to the realities of becoming a kinship carer through a formal arrangement of Special Guardianship. It highlights the common experiences kinship carers have of; being given too little or the wrong information, being misunderstood and shut out of court or lost in legal and social work jargon.  

Chief Executive of Grandparents Plus Dr Lucy Peake said: “In this powerful film, special guardians describe turning their lives upside down to raise a relative’s child, only to be let down by the system. It’s a powerful call to those in the legal and social work professions to make sure special guardians get the practical, financial and emotional support they need.”

It can be extremely scary, distressing and confusing at the start of a kinship carers journey which can be amplified by the legal process of becoming a Special Guardian. The film highlights what is needed moving forward to better support, inform and protect special guardians. 

Here are the top ten implementations required to achieve this:

  1. Independent legal advice
  2. Time and preparation training
  3. Supportive social workers
  4. To be able to participate in court proceedings
  5. A clear individualised support plan
  6. Support managing contact with parents
  7. Fair financial support
  8. The right to time off work
  9. Peer support
  10. Greater awareness and understanding of Special Guardianship. 

This powerful film has been developed as a training and educational tool for staff working in children's services, the courts and prospective special guardians. It is hard hitting and vital in increasing wider understanding of what special guardians encounter. 

If you are a kinship carer or have been contacted about becoming a special guardian speak with Grandparents Plus who can offer non judgemental advice and information and have a look at our kinship carers page

Older lady and young boy