New Regulations creating a duty to place siblings together will take effect on 26 July 2021:
The new duty was committed to in 2019 in the Scottish Government’s Family Justice Modernisation Strategy.
Stand Up for Siblings very much welcomes this significant progress on a central issue in our campaign for change.
What does the new duty say?
Where the local authority is considering placing a child with a kinship carer, with a foster carer, or in a residential establishment, and any sibling of the child is looked after or about to be looked after, the local authority will be required to place the siblings, where appropriate, with the same carer or in the same residential establishment. Where it is not appropriate for the siblings to be placed together, the Local Authority will be required to place the siblings in homes which are near to one another.
In either situation, to decide that a placement is appropriate, the local authority will have to be satisfied that it safeguards and promotes the welfare of the child which is the paramount consideration.
As with all the changes to the law on brothers and sisters, who is considered to be a sibling is defined broadly: siblings are anyone with at least one parent in common, or anyone the child has lived with in the past or is living with now with whom the child has an ongoing sibling-like relationship.
The regulations mean brothers and sisters will in the future, where appropriate, live together or near each other when looked after by a local authority. This is a major development for care experienced children and one that is a significant step forward in implementing the recommendations of the Independent Care Review in The Promise.
See also the Scottish Government’s Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment.