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Hertfordshire County Council

Your role as a Special Guardian

As a Special Guardian, you have parental responsibility (above birth parents) to care for a child and make decisions about their upbringing, such as which school they attend.

You can maintain a link between the child and their birth parents and keep them informed of any decisions. You only require permission from the birth parents (or the court) for the following:

  • taking the child out of the country for more than 3 months
  • changing the child’s surname
  • major operations
  • placing the child for adoption.

You must also notify the birth parents if the child dies.


Who can apply?

You must be at least 18 years old. You can apply as an individual or jointly. You do not need to be married or in a civil partnership. The child's parents cannot apply.

You can apply if you:

  • have our consent, if the child is looked after by us.
  • are a foster carer approved by Hertfordshire Fostering Service, who the child has lived with for at least a year before applying. The application does not need our support.
  • hold a Child Arrangements Order for the child.
  • have lived with the child for 3 out of the last 5 years (and within the last 3 months before applying).
  • have the consent of everyone with parental responsibility, including parents, step-parents or guardians.
  • are appointed as a guardian of the child.
  • are a relative the child has lived with for at least a year before applying.

If you do not meet any of these criteria, you can apply to the court for leave (permission) to apply.


Before you apply

Notify us 3 months before you apply to the court for a Special Guardianship Order.

We'll write a report on your suitability as a Special Guardian and send it to the court after you apply. The court can't make a decision until they receive it.

What will be in our report?

  • A recommendation regarding contact.
  • Information about the child.
  • The wishes and feelings of the child and others.
  • Information about the child and their family.
  • Information about you and your ability to keep children safe and care for them until they are 18.
  • Information about the prospective special guardian.
  • Information about the Local authority that completed the report.
  • A summary prepared by the medical advisor.
  • The merits of Special Guardianship and other orders.
  • References and DBS checks.


Our support services

You can request an assessment for the following support from us:

  • A means-tested Special Guardianship Allowance (in addition to universal benefits). If you're entitled, we'll review it annually.
  • A consultation for anyone seeking clarity and advice on the implications of a Special Guardianship Order.
  • Under One Roof - a preparation day for all prospective Special Guardians.
  • Monthly daytime support groups.
  • Evening telephone consultations.
  • Regular workshops such as: life story work, teen/baby brain development, social media.
  • Online training.
  • Family fun days twice a year.
  • Signpost service.
  • Access to the Adoption Support Fund for therapeutic services (for children that were previously looked after).
  • Support for birth parents.


Find out more

Other websites that can help:

Support for grandparents (and other relatives) caring for a child who cannot stay with their birth parents.

Specialist legal advice for grandparents, to resolve difficult situations.

Support for wider family members caring for a child who cannot stay at home, as well as birth parents.

Legal advice for wider family and carers, available online and over the phone.

Independent advice on housing, benefits, debt and your legal rights.


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