Information for siblings
This section provides information for siblings who need help and support about contact with their brothers and sisters.
What are my rights to sibling relationships?
My brother/sister is in care
You have the right to a relationship with your brothers and sisters. If it’s not possible for you to live together, social work should arrange for you to spend time together, so long as it is safe and what you and your brother/sister want.
You can ask to be involved in decisions about your brothers and sisters. Any decisions that are made about spending time with your brother or sister should always be about what is best for your brother or sister.
If a Children’s Hearing or Court is going to be making a decision about your brother or sister, you can ask to be involved in this decision.
If you are not happy with a decision that has been made about your brother or sister, you might be able to challenge this. A lawyer can give you more information about this.
1. What are my rights?
If you are brought into care, social work must look after you. An important part of looking after you is making sure your rights are respected.
New laws for sisters and brothers apply in Scotland from 26 July 2021. The law says:
If you and your brother/sister are in care, you should be able to live together with the same carer or in the same home (if that’s safe). If your situation means it would be better for your safety and welfare to live near to each other than together, you should be able to do that.
Your local authority must support you to see your brothers and sisters regularly (if that’s safe).
Before your local authority makes any decisions about your brother or sister, you should be asked what you think and your views should be taken into account.
Your Children’s Hearings must always consider what arrangements are needed so you can see you sister/brother(s) if you’re not living with them.
You should be able to take part in your brother/sister’s Children’s Hearing when the panel is making decisions that will affect you seeing each other. You can ask a lawyer or an advocacy worker for help with this.
It is important to know that these rights for brothers and sisters are not only for people with the same parent(s) – they are also for people who have lived together (for example with the same foster carers) and feel just like siblings.
2. The right to family life
Everyone has the right to family life. The law protects this right. Relationships between brothers and sisters are an important part of the right to family life.
3. The right to be safe
4. The right to be part of decision making
5. The right to be heard
Whenever anyone is making a decision about who you live with or spend time with, you have a right to tell them what you want to do. They must listen to you and take you seriously. An advocate can help you say what you want.
If you are not happy with a decision that has been made about who you live with or who you get to spend time with, you might be able to challenge the decision. A lawyer can give you more information about this.
Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland rights and sibling contact
Need more help and advice?
Lived experience of sibling separation
Case study- Contact with brothers and sisters
Read what the Young Radicals group at Who Cares? Scotland had to say
Twelve Years Separated: Theighan and Sofia’s story of sibling separation
Find out about one young person’s experiences of sibling contact
brothers and sisters.
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At a Children’s Hearing or Court
If you have to go to a Children’s Hearing, then the panel members must also think about how to keep you safe, your right to family life and who you should live with.
Panel members should always try and keep you with your brothers and sisters, so long as it’s safe. If that’s not possible, they should help you spend time together.
If a Children’s Hearing or court is going to be making a decision about your brother or sister, you can ask to be part of that decision. A lawyer can give you more information about this.