Promising Legislation Introduced for Children in Care

Our summer student Andrew Savage considers important new legislation that has been introduced by the Scottish Government regarding siblings who reside in care together.

The newly introduced Part 13 of the Children (Scotland) Act 2020 and the Looked After Children (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2021 signifies that local authorities are tasked with the job of making sure that siblings receive the best support possible to stay together, in the correct circumstance. In the case that any siblings are not to live together, local authorities have the duty to keep the split siblings in regular contact. This is to help continue and nurture their relationships as brothers and sisters.

The implementation of these new rules allow for new and exciting changes within children’s hearings procedures. Children hold newly brought in rights to take part in these hearings regarding the contact with their siblings. This includes appropriate support for the children from advocacy services.

Recently, guidance has been published to ensure that social workers and other practitioners implement these new changes correctly. The aforementioned guidance was evolved from consulting children, young adults and families who are experienced within the care system.

Scotland’s Children Minister, Clare Haughey speaks positively about these changes. She emphasises the importance of having secure homes, support and relationships. Clare continues by saying that despite most siblings being placed in care together now, it is crucial to help develop relationships between siblings when this is not the case. Clare concluded that these changes are a “significant step” in the government’s commitment to making positive change in how Scotland’s children and young people are cared for.

The Scottish Children’s Reporter Association (SCRA) writes highly the new Part 13 of ‘The Promise’. With its Principal Reporter, Neil Hunter, welcoming the change’s intention to give siblings more involvement in the decisions affecting them. He continues by praising the campaign of Stand Up For Siblings in helping to put these changes in place. Hunter gives an overall praise of the changes and looks forward to working to see the changes in use across Scotland.

These changes are a significant step forward in allowing often vulnerable children to have the comfort of knowing that they will (in the worst circumstance) regularly see their siblings. They also allow for the opinions and needs of the children and young people to be appropriately taken into account when going through childrens hearings.

If you require any assistance or advice in relation to children’s hearings or sibling contact, please contact our office on 01383 431 101 or to arrange your appointment.

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