Today (Friday 8th March), the Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd MSP has announced that the Scottish Government plans to change existing law to ensure that brothers and sisters who are in local authority care are kept together when it is in their interests to do so.
The Minister said:
“The Scottish Government is committed to making our care system the best that it can be. For most children in care, where it is appropriate, it is now the case that a child is placed with brothers and sisters with whom they have close personal ties. This has proved overwhelmingly that that is good for their welfare and emotional wellbeing.
“However, it is not the case for every child in care, and we need to understand how best we can use law and practice to make sure that more children are kept together, either physically, or through the proactive encouragement of contact. We will identify barriers and explore solutions across all agencies, improving practice where we can.
In response to the announcement, Fiona Duncan, Chair of the Independent Care Review said:
“The Minister’s announcement is proof of the Scottish Government’s commitment to ensure that, when it is in their interests, brothers and sisters are kept together and that their rights to maintain relationships and contact with family members are promoted and upheld.
The Independent Care Review has heard from many children and young people about the devastating impact of being separated from their family members and the effect this can have on their lifelong relationships.
The Scottish Government’s decision to improve the law is a positive step. The factors that lead to brothers and sisters being separated also need to be fully understood in order to ensure that any changes to law are effectively implemented – and that due consideration is given to any unintended consequences of doing so.”
The Independent Care Review is currently working with a group of care experienced people and other experts to reach a comprehensive understanding of these issues as well as clear recommendations for the future. This will involve continued engagement with Stand Up For Siblings.