Guidance was published on Tuesday 27 July to help social workers and other practitioners to implement legislation designed to keep siblings in care together.
The guidance was developed in consultation with children, young people and families with care experience.
Part 13 of the Children (Scotland) Act 2020 and the Looked After Children (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2021 mean North Ayrshire Council and other local authorities have a duty to ensure siblings are supported to stay together, where appropriate.
In cases where it is not appropriate for brothers and sisters to live together, steps should be taken to help them stay in regular touch with each other and to nurture their relationships.
The new rules also mean changes in Children’s Hearings procedures. Brothers and sisters will have new rights to appropriately participate – with support including advocacy services – in Children’s Hearings where contact with their siblings is being considered.
The legislation and National Practice Guidance is a milestone in the SNP Government’s commitment to Keep The Promise to implement the recommendations of the Independent Care Review, which highlighted the importance of children being able to maintain sibling relationships.
Kenneth Gibson MSP said:
“This marks a significant improvement in how we care for our children, young people and families across North Ayrshire and Scotland.
“Every child needs and deserves- a stable home, strong support and steady, loving relationships around them.
“My children are all in their twenties now and they are still close, but I know that the three of them being so close growing up together has added real value to their lives. I can only imagine how crucial it is for those who don’t grow up in their family home to at least have their siblings with them.
“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 and having this guidance will help achieve that.”
Saffron Rohan, who was on the consultants working group for the National Practice Guidance, 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.”