Supervision orders and Special Guardianship

This project aims to produce the first comprehensive national picture of the contribution of supervision orders to family justice, children’s services, and child and parental outcomes. The study also includes analysis of special guardianship orders used alone and in combination with a supervision order.

A supervision order gives a local authority the legal power to monitor the child’s needs and progress while the child lives at home or somewhere else. They have potential advantages, such as helping rebuild family and preserve relationships. However some research has questioned their effectiveness and there is currently a lack of robust, systematic research in this area at a time when there is evidence that their use is increasing.

There is also a strong rationale to establish the latest national prevalence trends of special guardianship orders, geographical distribution and to examine children’s outcomes over time.

This study seeks to address the research gaps by:

  • Taking the Cafcass national dataset on public law children proceedings, and based on a 9 year observational window (2007-2016), generating a national picture of how supervision orders and special guardianship orders are used over time, and capturing the movement of children within the system.
  • In-depth tracking of supervision orders that result in a child returning to parental care, based on a representative sample of cases from Cafcass electronic case records, in combination with children’s files held by 4 or 5 local authorities.
  • Interviewing up to 60 parents and 50 children aged 7 or older.
  • Conducting focus groups with social workers, senior managers, Cafcass, lawyers, and members of the judiciary. 

Spotlight on supervision orders: what do we know and what do we need to know?  Judith Harwin, Bachar Alrouh, Melanie Palmer, Karen Broadhurst and Stephen Swift, March 2016

Considering the case for parity in policy and practice between adoption and special guardianship: findings from a population wide study Judith Harwin, Bachar Alrouh, Melanie Palmer, Karen Broadhurst and Stephen Swift, February 2016

Briefing paper no 1: Special guardianship orders (PDF)

Judith Harwin, Bachar Alrouh, Melanie Palmer, Karen Broadhurst and Stephen Swift
December 2015