We would like to express our thanks to the organising team for the Community of Practice who have worked so hard setting up this valuable forum. It is great to see such an enthusiastic group from across the sector come together to share learning and good practice, and celebrate progress and achievements in relation to keeping siblings together and connected.

Learning and development
We know that there is a huge amount of positive work happening across services and organisations in Scotland to ensure that the rights of children to stay together and connected with their siblings is realised. We know that services, organisations and local areas are at different stages with this work and there is a need to ensure consistency of good practice and effective implementation. We are very aware that  everyone’s capacity remains very tight and there many competing demands. As such, we have convened a meeting of the Staying Together and Connected (STaC) Learning, Development and Leadership sub-group on 25 March. This group produced a comprehensive Learning, Development and Leadership Framework alongside the STaC Group’s final report setting out the knowledge, skills and abilities required in relation to siblings at three levels (aware, informed, enhanced).

We plan to seek the group’s views on what additional resource would be most beneficial to support the workforce with regard to the implementation of the siblings legislation and guidance. We would be happy to come to speak at a future Community of Practice meeting to discuss this work and to seek your input on what type of learning resources you think would be most helpful for the multi-agency workforce (and caregivers) who engage directly with children, young people and families

Following on from the very interesting presentation on siblings data by West Dumbartonshire Council at the last Community of Practice meeting, we are continuing to consider how we can improve the data around siblings being separated. The next step will be to add a further item to the Looked after Children Scotland data return (CLAS) so we can gain a better understanding of the reasons that siblings have been separated.  Members of the community who wish to participate in the further development of data on sibling separation can get in touch with craig.kellock@gov.scot.

The STAC report highlighted the important part effective advocacy can play in ensuring children’s rights in relation to their siblings are respected and upheld. You may be aware that The Promise Scotland have undertaken and completed work to scope a national lifelong advocacy service for care experienced people and their families. The outcome of this work was submitted in a report to Ministers in December 2023 and was published on The Promise Scotland website in February 2024. 

In developing this report, The Promise Scotland engaged with advocacy providers, building on the voices and experiences heard by the Independent Care Review to make a series of recommendations on how a lifelong advocacy service could be operationalised. The report presents four phases of activity proposed to move this forward and calls on a collaborative approach across advocacy providers, experts, and care experienced children, adults and families to help achieve this.

The Scottish Government are considering the recommendations and proposals in the report including the potential for a series of engagement with advocacy providers to gather insight to further inform next steps.

We plan to provide a short update in future Siblings Community of Practice newsletters and look forward to keeping in touch with you all regularly going forward.  In the meantime, if you have any questions or would like to discuss any aspect of the above update, please contact Debbie Silver – debbie.silver@gov.scot.

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