Three times as many babies are now made subject to special guardianship orders, new research reveals.
According to data obtained by the BBC, 520 babies were placed in special guardianship arrangements last year, compared to only 160 in 2012. The majority of affected children were aged four and under.
Special guardianship orders provide a secure home for vulnerable children unable to live with their parents. They are placed with family members or friends but, unlike adoptees, such children maintain a legal link with their birth parents.
Meanwhile, the number of children placed for adoption dropped by close to 50 per cent last year, when compared to 2013.
Some children’s charities have expressed concern at the development, the BBC reports, claiming that special guardianship does not provide the stability and permanency of adoption.
Andy Elvin of adoption charity TACT said the involvement of family members was to be welcomed but he questioned whether assessments were always sufficiently thorough and said post-placement support for special guardianship was sometimes lacking.
Cathy Ashley of the Family Rights Group echoed his observations, calling for “parity” in the support available to established special guardians.