Championing children’s relationships in Scotland

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The Fostering Network has been working in Scotland to raise awareness of children’s relationships with those who are important to them, including their former foster families and influence new legislation.

The Children (Scotland) Act 2020 has now come into law. It is an important piece of legislation to strengthen children’s rights, including their right to see their brothers and sisters if they’re not able to live together.

It’s critical that children are supported to see their siblings, and The Fostering Network joined the campaign to bring about these changes to local authorities’ duties as part of the Stand Up for Siblings partnership.  

The Children (Scotland) Act was also an opportunity to look at the other relationships that are important to children, and how these are supported. 

The importance of Keep Connected

The bond that develops between children and their foster families is part of what makes foster care so special and transformational. We wanted the politicians looking at the Act to recognise that, even when a child moves to another home, their former foster family can play an important role, often helping them to settle in and sometimes offering support for the rest of their lives. We often hear of foster carers going to the weddings of children they had cared for, or even becoming godparents to their children. This sentiment is at the heart of our Keep Connected campaign.

However, in some cases, children and foster families don’t get the support they need to keep in touch and the significance of these relationships is not always recognised. That’s why we wanted to use the Children (Scotland) Act to shine a spotlight on these important relationships.

Parliamentary backing

Members of the Scottish Parliament, Liam MacArthur, Jeremy Balfour and Fulton MacGregor, worked with us to lodge amendments to the Act to support our Keep Connected campaign. This meant the issue was debated at both stage two and three; including direct quotes from foster carers who have great lasting relationships and those that weren’t able to see children after they moved on.

In the debates, we were delighted that the Scottish Government committed to developing guidance. It will set out how local authorities should help children to keep in touch with the people that are important to them, including their former foster families. In the coming months, we’re going to be working on the guidance with politicians, officials and other organisations to ensure the guidance reflects our Keep Connected principles.

You can read or watch the stage two and stage three debates online. 

This guidance will be a huge step forward in the Keep Connected campaign. It will help local authorities to support children to keep in touch with the people that matter to them and empower foster carers to maintain relationships that are positive for a child.

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