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Practice guidelines to accompany legislative changes on siblings in care

CELCIS is seeking views to feed into practice guidelines which will accompany some legislative changes to uphold the rights and meet the needs of brothers and sisters with care experience.

Changes are being made to Section 13 of the Children (Scotland) 2020 Act, and the Looked After Children (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2021 and most of these legislative changes are due to come into force on 26 July 2021.

CELCIS, the Centre for Excellence for Children's Care and Protection, based at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, has been asked by The Scottish Government to develop Practice Guidance to accompany those changes.

As a result, CELCIS wants to hear from a range of stakeholders including care experienced people, social workers, foster carers, kinship carers, parents (including adoptive parents), prospective adopters who have had children living with them on a fostering basis, residential child care workers and any other practitioner with an interest in this issue, such as teachers.

The changes that are being made to Section 13 of the Children (Scotland) 2020 Act, and the Looked After Children (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2021 are:

- There will be a duty on a local authority towards a looked after child to take steps to promote personal relations and direct contact between a child looked after by the local authority and the child’s siblings, as appear appropriate, having regard to the authority’s duty to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare.

- There will be a duty on a local authority to establish the views of the child’s brothers and sisters, so far as is reasonably practicable before making any decision with respect to a child whom the authority is looking after, or proposing to look after.

- There will be a duty to place brothers and sisters, where appropriate, with the same carer (foster carer or kinship carer), or in the same residential home, or place the brothers and sisters in homes which are near to each other (where this would better safeguard and promote the welfare of a child than a placement in the same home).

Currently, COVID-19 emergency legislation (The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020) allows the extension of foster placement numbers to more than three children (related or not) and for any of these children, in exceptional circumstances, to continue emergency or short term placement where their welfare will be safeguarded and promoted by doing so, regardless of the usual three children in placement limit.

The guidance is due to be published in July 2021. However, it will be updated regularly to reflect what is being learned as a result of the implementation of these legislative changes over time.

Siblings are defined as individuals with a parent in common or individuals who have lived with another person (or people) and have an ongoing relationship with them that has the character of a relationship between brothers and sisters.

The survey will be open until 30 April 2021.

You can contact the CELCIS team at: celcis.brothers-sisters@strath.ac.uk


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