Every care experienced child should be able to have meaningful contact with a sibling they want an ongoing relationship with— and they should be properly supported to do so.
That’s what we’re saying in our statement to mark the first ever Care Experienced Week.
Care Experienced Week, which is run by Who Cares? Scotland , marks and celebrates the lives of everyone who’s had Care Experience. It’s an opportunity for people to reflect on what their Care Experience means to them, and to affirm it as a fundamental part of who they are.
Children have a right to respect for family life under ECHR Article 8 and UNCRC Article 16. Siblings are an important part of children and young people’s families, but are often overlooked by professionals and by the legal system.
Under Article 8 of the UNCRC, children have a right to maintain their identity – which covers family relations – while under Article 20 children apart from their families have the right to special assistance from the State.
Care experienced children tell us that they want to have contact with their siblings if it’s not possible for them to live together. Keeping in touch with their siblings is one of the ways they maintain their identity.They also tell us that, too often, they face barriers to keeping contact and meeting up with their siblings.
When talking about siblings, we use a broad definition of sibling to include all children with whom the child has shared a family life. This is particularly important for looked after children who may have had a number of placements and formed relationships with other children who are important to them.
Our Care Week policy call is for all care experienced children to be properly supported to maintain meaningful contact with any sibling they wish to have an ongoing relationship with. Service providers and decision makers must prioritise contact with siblings and treat it as just as important as contact with parents. We feel there should be a legal duty on local authorities to promote and facilitate sibling access and for Scottish Government to provide local authorities with financial support to meet this duty.