The special guardianship order was first introduced in the 2002 Adoption and Children’s Act. This means that many special guardianship children are reaching maturity now.
But what happens at 18?
Special guardian Carol and her two children, who are 17 and 18 – and who are both in 6th form, are frightened of what the future holds when financial support stops at 18 – when the benefits they will rely on will be much less than the financial support they receive now.
“The horrendous times we are living in are impacting on all. I feel that the children are no less important than a pub or restaurant – when looking forward to their future. To say that at the young age of 18 they could go on and survive without support would put them in a situation that provokes huge anxiety – and that is on top of all the uncertainty that we all face in the Covid pandemic”
Whilst the SGO ends at 18 still, the age at which a young adult leaves their parents home has increased over the last two decades according to the Office for National Statistics to 23 years in 2017 (when 50% or more had left home) – from 21 years two decades before. Living at home with a parent is also still the most common living arrangement for young adults between the ages of 18-34. So special guardianship children, who have suffered trauma and loss are having to fend for themselves – whilst those who raised them and want to see them have the very best of life chances, cannot afford to keep them.
This is an important issue that needs addressing.
- Foster Carers are supported until the child reaches 21.
- Not all special guardians can access the Adoption Support Fund
- ‘Financial Worries’ were a prominent source of stress for special guardian respondents in out Health and Wellbeing Survey (2018) – see table 31
- Adopters are increasingly becoming special guardians to their grandchildren when they are removed from their children