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Special Guardianships and SEND

A Special Guardian is usually someone with a close relationship to the child, such as a family member, former foster carer or family friend.

They need to apply to the court which will consider their suitability and the child’s needs, based on a report from the local authority.

Special Guardianship is a formal court order which places a child or young person with someone permanently and gives this person parental responsibility for the child.

This could be a grandparent, close relative or a family friend. Special Guardianship means that the child lives with carers who have parental responsibility for them until they are grown up.


Children who are or who have been in care are significantly more likely to have SEND than their peers.

Of those with SEND, a significant proportion may have EHC Plans and are more likely to experience social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) challenges that their peers.

For example, they may struggle with executive functioning skills, forming trusting relationships, social skills, managing strong feelings, sensory processing difficulties, foetal alcohol syndrome and coping with transition or change.

This can impact on their behaviour and education. (DfE Feb 2018). They may also struggle with:

  • Emotion regulation
  • Peer relationships
  • Speech and language delay
  • Difficulties with executive function
  • Managing the developmental tasks and transitions of childhood

(Syne, Green & Dyer, 2012)

For more information, advice and guidance on Special Guardianships and SEND take a look at Anna Freud- Adoptive Parents, Special Guardians, Kinship Carers and Foster Carers.