The Stand Up For Siblings collaboration was launched in March 2018. The launch marked the coming together of a number of organisations committed to supporting brothers and sisters to stay together or stay in touch when children and young people enter care.
One year on I have been reflecting on progress that has been made. My first reflection is that sibling relationships are very much on the agenda across different sectors, organisations and interest groups. Everywhere I go there is talk of the importance of brothers and sisters and we are regularly asked to provide expert input on this subject at conferences, discussions and staff training events.
We were pleased to see sibling relationships being given particular attention in the consultation of the Review of Part 1 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 and submitted a detailed response to this.
My second reflection is that the movement for legal, policy and practice changes around this issue is building.
Since our launch a number of additional partners have joined Stand Up For Siblings, including allies from The Care Inspectorate, Life Long Links and Barnardo’s. We are working closely with the Care Review and have established links with organisations and academics from outside Scotland who share our ambitions.
My third reflection is that new and creative ways of thinking are being developed within practice settings to begin to address the problem of sibling estrangement. A model is emerging of ‘sibling champions’ in some organisations. City of Edinburgh Council has been particularly proactive in this regard and Kate Richardson, the CEC sibling champion, has been leading several local developments.
These include targeted recruitment of foster carers, prospective adopters and permanent carers for sibling groups, developing policy around the collection of sibling information during referral and assessment procedures and making sibling relationships standing agenda items in Registration and Permanence Panel meetings.
There is still much more to be done. Each day in Scotland relationships between brothers and sisters in the care system are being made vulnerable by circumstances, some of which can be avoided. My final reflection, though, is that there is a strong sense of determination across Scotland to create a better future for brothers and sisters who are care-experienced.