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Special guardianship orders were introduced to supplement the range of options for permanency for children who cannot live with their birth parents. Intended to reduce the numbers of children in care, their introduction led to much speculation as to their potential use. This article presents findings from a research study investigating the use of special guardianship since its availability in December 2005. They suggest that special guardianship is proving to be a valued addition to the range of options for permanence for children. However, government aspirations for special guardianship, namely to reduce the numbers of looked after children, do not appear to have been met. Furthermore, the opportunities offered by special guardianship, to revisit prevailing approaches to permanency planning and the role of adoption, appear to have been missed.
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