Special guardianship orders are a way of giving legal status to those - usually grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters - who come forward to care for children when their parents can't. SGOs were designed to let children grow up with family, instead of in care - once a relative is granted special guardianship, the council steps backs and the guardian can raise the child without social services interfering.
The use of special guardianship orders has been rising-last year more than 3,000 of them were made.
But special guardianship breaks down more often - and more quickly - than adoption.
And in some cases children have been neglected, abused, or murdered.
The family court service Cafcass and the Association of Directors of Children's Services have warned that weak assessments of the risks of family placements are a 'real risk' for children.
The government has re-written the law on how special guardians are assessed. But with court deadlines and growing pressure on social workers and budgets, will it make children safer? Jane Deith investigates.
Producer: Emma Forde.