There are two strands to the project:

1) to build a picture of which families in Wales have Special Guardianship Orders using the SAIL Databank, and to explore in more depth; and 2) with the Neurodevelopment Assessment Unit (NDAU) at the Cardiff University Centre for Human Developmental Science (CUCHDS), to profile the strengths and needs of children aged 4-7 with an SGO to inform the formulation of personalised, tailored interventions that address a child’s individual needs.


The use of kinship care within child welfare has increased over the last decade, including using Special Guardianship Orders (SGOs) for children leaving care. In Wales, in 2022, 285 children left care for adoption, and 295 on an SGO. SGOs are also granted through private law proceedings.
There are some indications that Special Guardians, like other kinship carers, may face challenges supporting the children in their care, and children might need support based on their experiences prior to the SGO being granted. However, there is limited understanding of factors within SGOs that could be protective for children.

The UK government published the first ever kinship care strategy at the end of 2023 and announced tailored support and training for kinship carers. Within Wales, the Welsh government has affirmed their commitment to developing an improved and consistent needs-based approach to supporting Special Guardianship families across Wales. There is an existing framework for Special Guardianship support services. However, the lack of evidence base regarding characteristics, circumstances, and needs of these families makes it difficult for local authorities and national government to know which services to prioritise.

This project provides an opportunity to draw on expertise in a multidisciplinary collaboration comprising the Neurodevelopment Assessment Unit (NDAU) at the Cardiff University Centre for Human Developmental Science (CUCHDS; School of Psychology), The Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE) and the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) Databank. This will enable application of methods used with adopted children and their families, children in care, and families in the general population to address our aims. The project has the potential to make a step-change in our understanding of structural, social, and psychological factors that could impact on long-term outcomes for children subject to SGOs.

Activities and Methods

The project runs from April 2024 – end March 2026.

Watch this video to learn about how special guardians can get involved.


This project is currently ongoing. To learn more, email:

Lead Person

Principal InvestigatorLorna Stabler

Academics and Researchers

Professor Katherine Shelton
Dr Amy Paine
Dr Nell Warner
Related SchoolsN/A
Related partnersSchool of Social Sciences
School of Psychology
FundersNuffield Foundation
Related publicationsN/A
Related linksN/A
Related documentsN/A


Lorna Stabler