Helping ‘looked after children’ stay in touch with siblings

Category: Looked after children

19th January 2016

While the benefits of sibling contact are widely recognised, children and young people often encounter barriers when trying to keep in touch with family members after they are taken into care. Clan Childlaw's recent publication 'Promoting Sibling Contact for Looked After Children' examines how this situation can be improved.

While the benefits of sibling contact are widely recognised, children and young people often encounter barriers when trying to keep in touch with family members after they are taken into care. Clan Childlaw's recent publication 'Promoting Sibling Contact for Looked After Children' examines how this situation can be improved.

Clan Childlaw provide free legal advice and representation to children and young people, and around three-quarters of their clients are or have been 'looked after children' - children who are in the care of their local authority.

There are currently more than 15,000 looked after children in Scotland, with over 10,000 in placements away from the family home. Many face the possibility of being separated from their siblings, either by being placed separately from each other in foster placements or residential units, or because one sibling is in a care placement and the other remains at home. For children and young people whose lives have already been disrupted by being removed from their family unit, maintaining bonds with siblings can be hugely important. Clan Childlaw have represented many looked after children and young people who have lost touch with siblings, and know what a devastating impact this can have.

While the benefits of sibling contact are widely recognised, children and young people often encounter barriers when trying to keep in touch with family members after they are taken into care.

There is a legal duty on local authorities to promote relations and direct contact on a regular basis between looked after children and any person with parental responsibilities, so long as that is consistent with the child's welfare, but there is no equivalent legal duty in relation to contact with siblings.

In their publication Clan Childlaw set out the legal framework and tools to enable the promotion of sibling contact by those involved in making assessments, recommendations and decisions about looked after children.

Alison Reid, Principal Solicitor and Chief Executive of Clan Childlaw said:

"Sibling contact is one of the most important issues our clients confront, so we are delighted to be holding this event to launch our publication and to get people talking about how we can do things better."

The publication was launched in November and provided an opportunity for those working with children and young people to get together to share ideas and perspectives, with a view to making positive changes taken to promoting sibling contact for looked after children.

 

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