New legal rights for siblings in care in Scotland
Today legislation was introduced in Scotland to give siblings in care legal rights to maintain their relationships.
Part 13 of the Children (Scotland) Act 2020 and the Looked After Children (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2021 mean local authorities now have a legal duty to ensure siblings are supported to stay together, where appropriate. Where it is not appropriate for brothers and sisters to live together, steps should be taken to help them stay in regular touch with each other and to nurture their relationships.
The new rules also mean changes in Children’s Hearings procedures. Brothers and sisters will have new rights to appropriately participate in Children’s Hearings where contact with their siblings is being considered.
Guidance has been published today to help social workers and other practitioners to implement the legislation. The guidance was developed in consultation with children, young people and families with care experience.
The legislation and National Practice Guidance is a milestone in the Scottish Government’s commitment to Keep The Promise to implement the recommendations of the Independent Care Review, which highlighted the importance of children being able to maintain sibling relationships.
Sara Lurie, director of The fostering Network in Scotland, said: ‘We welcome the introduction of this legislation in Scotland that gives legal rights to brothers and sisters in care to maintain their relationships.
‘We hope this change goes hand in hand with more support for foster carers and for children to maintain relationships with all those important to them, including former foster carers, and for these to be equally recognised.
‘Today is a huge landmark for Scotland’s children and an exciting day for brothers and sisters in Scotland’s care system.'