Today, the Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd MSP 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.
This announcement comes almost exactly one year after the launch of the “Stand Up for Siblings”, a collaboration made up between a number of child welfare, children’s rights and legal organisations and academics within Scotland including Clan Childlaw. They believe that more can be done to protect the rights and promote the wellbeing of siblings and are working together to influence the law, policy and practice.
Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd MSP today recognises the potential importance of the brother and sister relationship for a child in care. She announced her commitment to strengthen the law in relation to keeping brothers and sisters together when it is in their best interests to do so.
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.”