The Adoption and Children Act 2002 introduced special guardianship orders. These are orders which are designed to meet the needs of children who are not to be fostered or adopted but need a permanent parental figure. A child's parent may not be a special guardian but any other person may be. That person must undergo a local authority assessment before an order can be made and must give 3 months notice to their relevant local authority of their intention to apply for a Special Guardianship Order.
A Special Guardianship Order gives the special guardian parental responsibility for the child and gives a child stability by confirming their long term placement with the special guardian. It does not extinguish a parent's parental responsibility but it does give the special guardian day to day control over decisions relating to children. The most likely people to apply for a Special Guardianship order are probably family members and foster carers.