New rules to help keep siblings in care together come into force in Scotland

Rules designed to help siblings in care stay together have come into force.

An amendment to the Children (Scotland) Act 2020 and Looked After Children (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2021 will place a duty on councils to ensure siblings remain together where appropriate.

For situations where it is not appropriate for children to live together, local authorities must ensure they can keep in regular contact with each other in an effort allow their relationship to continue.

The regulations are intended to fulfil the promise made by the Scottish Government to implement the recommendations of the independent care review.

The new regulations will also allow youngsters to have more input into children’s hearings where their contact with siblings is to be considered.

Children’s minister Clare Haughey said: “All children need the same things to thrive ­- a stable home, strong support and steady, loving relationships.

“We know through speaking to children and young people that the relationships with their brothers and sisters is vital to their sense of belonging and to their wellbeing.

“Thankfully, most siblings who experience care away from home are now placed together but, where that is not possible, it is important that those precious bonds are protected and nurtured through spending time with each other.

“The changes that come into force today are a significant step in our commitment to keeping the promise to drive the changes needed in how we care for our children, young people and families.”

Saffron Rohan, a member of the working group which designed the guidance for social workers on the new regulations, said: “It was fantastic to input into this guidance, supporting its development with our thoughts and experience.

“It is my hope that this guidance will give practitioners the knowledge and direction to ensure children’s rights are continuously upheld and these crucial and meaningful relationships are supported to flourish.”

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