Our clients were two foster carers who looked after a two-and-a-half-year-old girl called Mary (not her real name). Mary is significantly disabled and needs twenty-four-hour care; she is fed via a gastric tube, has extremely limited mobility, and is blind.

The allowance offered by the local authority to our clients was relatively low – less than one-third of the available allowance.

Mary’s foster parents were anxious that the local authority might seek to remove Mary to alternative care due to the specific and high levels of care needed, and their age (both in their 60s).

Our clients went on holiday in December 2017 but had to rush back as a social worker sought to remove Mary from the respite placement that was arranged with the local authority in advance.

What was our role?

We issued an application for a special guardianship order (SGO). Initially, the local authority was unclear about Mary’s placement with our clients, but an independent social worker undertook an SGO assessment, finding a significant level of commitment from our clients and their families to Mary’s day-to-day care.  

After some communication between with the local authority, they agreed to increase the allowance to around 85% of the available allowance, ensuring our clients could continue to provide for Mary’s practical needs.

All parties involved made it very clear that our clients were due a lot of praise for their level of commitment to providing for Mary’s need, and the Family Court made the SGO in favour of our clients – meaning that Mary could stay with our clients and their family.  Additionally, the local authority agreed to pay our clients’ costs.

How did we add value?

Given the often-difficult nature of work surrounding children in the care of the local authority, we were able to advise and guide our clients through an emotional and trying time. Our experience of working with clients in similar situations allowed us to prepare and brief our clients on the process and their role, ensuring Mary has the opportunity to be brought up in a loving, family environment with carers who have made significant commitments to be in her life.

We’re delighted that Mary can stay with her new family and could mark the order securing Mary’s placement with them, with a ‘child day’ celebration.