Stand Up For Siblings
The Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd MSP has announced that there are plans to make improvements to the law for brothers and sisters who are in the care system. The law is to be strengthened in relation to keeping brothers and sisters together when they are placed in local authority care when it is in their interest to do so. The changes will also result in siblings being on an equal footing with parents in relation to promoting personal relations, meaning that there will be a duty on local authorities to take steps to promote personal relations and contact between brothers and sisters when a child is in care.
The announcement coincided with the first anniversary of the launch of 'Stand Up For Siblings', a collaboration of child welfare, children’s rights and legal organisations and academics within Scotland working together to influence the law, policy and practice in order to protect the rights and promote the wellbeing of siblings in care.
Minister for Children and Young People, Ms Todd said:
The Scottish Government is committed to making our care system the best that it can be. For most children in care, where it is appropriate, it is now the case that a child is placed with brothers and sisters with whom they have close personal ties. This has proved overwhelmingly that that is good for their welfare and emotional wellbeing.
However, it is not the case for every child in care, and we need to understand how best we can use law and practice to make sure that more children are kept together, either physically, or through the proactive encouragement of contact. We will identify barriers and explore solutions across all agencies, improving practice where we can.
Alison Reid, Principal Solicitor of Clan Childlaw said:
We are delighted with this announcement. It is progress in the right direction and will allow brothers and sisters in care more of an opportunity to develop and maintain good relations which have the potential to last a lifetime. However, this is just the start.
We will continue to drive forward change in both law and practice to make sure siblings have the rights they need to participate fully in decisions that affect them, particularly in relation to Children’s Hearings as well as in permanence and adoption proceedings.
'Stand Up For Siblings’ co-founder Dr Christine Jones of University of Strathclyde said
The research I completed with Dr Gillian Henderson of Scottish Children’s Reporters’ Administration shows the scale of the problem of sibling estrangement when children enter care. The Minister’s announcement is an important step towards remedying this.