The Care Inspectorate are proud to be part of the Stand Up For Siblings partnership. We first reached out to colleagues in SUFS at the start of 2019. Our Young Inspection Volunteers who have lived experience of care, were making a video about the importance of sibling relationships for care experienced children and young people.
This was an important issue to them, both because of their own experience and because when they were involved in inspecting services, it was an issue many young people spoke to them about. Young people sometimes did not understand why they were separated from their siblings or were unhappy about not being in each other’s lives. Colleagues in SUFS were supportive of this work and welcomed us into the partnership.
Messages that our Young Inspection Volunteers highlighted were that the sibling relationship is a unique and complex one. It is for most people their most enduring relationship. They highlighted that within the sibling relationship it is normal sometimes that there are tensions and fights, as well as that supportive bond. What is not normal for most people though, is to grow up as strangers and to lose contact with important people in your family as can happen in the care system.
Our Young Inspection Volunteers shared their video and these messages at the Care Leavers Covenant Conference and the SIRCC conference in 2019, working alongside colleagues from SUFS. These messages resonated and are continuing to gain traction and momentum across the sector. The Independent Care Review and The Promise recognised powerfully that brothers and sisters should be together.
Inspectors within the Care Inspectorate also now have much more awareness of the importance of sibling relationships for care experienced children and young people. They have undertaken some training which very much included looking at the work of SUFS. The inspection and self-evaluation frameworks developed and in the process of being developed highlight the importance of supporting sibling relationships for care experienced young people.
The frameworks reference the SUFS website. The Care Inspectorate has included our commitment to this work in our Corporate Parenting Plan. We want services to really think about how they can meaningfully support these relationships and how they can do more to recognise the lifelong benefits for children and young people of having their brothers and sisters in their lives.
The Scottish Government has been looking at how they can continue to take these important issues forward and build on the recent positive legislative changes. As part of this work, SUFS recently responded to questions posed by the Scottish Government as part of a consultation. Given the lived experience and expertise of the Care Inspectorate’s Young Inspection Volunteers, their thoughts were included and highlighted within the SUFS response.
Here are some quotes from our Young Inspection Volunteers that were part of that response and show the benefits of being part of a partnership working collaboratively on such an important issue. They sum up powerfully why this is such a vital issue.
“Siblings provide comfort to each other. When everything is changing, we have each other. Being with each other reduces stress – no one else knows about your childhood in the way your sibling does. Separating siblings causes psychological and emotional stress. It will have a physical impact on children too.”
“Being separated can break relationships and cause resentment if one lives with a foster family and one is in residential care. When you separate siblings, you start to not know who they are over time. You are sisters but strangers.”
“If you are worrying about your siblings, you can’t settle or relax where you are.”
“Please recognise we are going to fight and fall out. Please keep us together so we can be close and have relationships in the future.”
SUFS has made great progress – we are proud to be on the journey as part of this partnership.