APPENDIX A: BACKGROUND
1. Over the last ten years, the Scottish Government has developed Getting it Right for Every Child ( GIRFEC) a national improvement programme which provides a foundation for working with all children and families. The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 places aspects of the GIRFEC approach on a statutory footing. This approach aims to achieve secure nurturing, positive childhoods, from which all children and young people can develop into successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors. This should be underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child ( UNCRC) 1989. Under Part 1 of the 2014 Act, Scottish Ministers and public authorities have a duty to report on the actions they are taking to progress the UNCRC.
2. Following a national consultation on foster care and kinship care, the Scottish Government published Getting it right for every child in kinship and foster care in 2007. The two key goals identified in the report were: to deliver a child centred approach to kinship and foster care; and to support high quality kinship and foster care. The strategy was based on a guiding principle:
Unless there are clear reasons why placement within the family would not be in the child's best interests, care within the wider family and community circle will be the first option for the child (2007:3).
3. To progress this ambition, a programme was developed outlined in Moving Forward in Kinship and Foster Care co-ordinated by BAAF and The Fostering Network. One of the task groups addressed the assessment and training needs of kinship carers. This report covered the needs of looked after and non-looked after children in kinship care.
4. In 2007, the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities ( COSLA) reached a concordant stating that local authorities would make equivalent levels of payment available to looked after children placed in kinship and foster care placement. In the absence of a nationally agreed calculation on the cost of caring for a looked after child most local authorities adopted the Fostering Network's recommended allowance rates (or something close to) for their foster carers. This concordat was only partially successful; less than half of all Scottish local authorities provided parity between kinship carers and foster carers of looked after children.
5. There has been a significant increase in the numbers of children in a formal kinship care placement across Scotland. Over the last ten years, the proportion of looked after children in a kinship care placement has doubled (12% of looked after children in 2004 to 27% of looked after children in 2014). Just over a quarter of all looked after children (n=4158) were living with kinship carers in 2014/15. 5 This increase could partly be attributed to a policy shift in greater recognition of wider family as the 'first option' for a child if they could no longer live with their parent/s.
6. Some children may live with kinship carers after a period of being formally looked after in a range of settings. Children can be looked after for a short period of time. In 2014 -15, around 4300 children ceased to be looked after; whilst two thirds of the children returned to live with their parents, just over 17% went to live with relatives or friends. 6 These children are no longer looked after so would be in an 'informal' kinship care arrangement.
7. The Guidance on the Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009 and Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 introduces a section on Kinship care (for looked after children) which covered regulations on assessment and approval of kinship carers; placement; agreements with kinship carers; notification; short-term placements; and record keeping. These regulations only relate to children who are 'looked after' thus are in a legal relationship with a local authority. However, the guidance recommends: Local authorities should have explicit information available about any support they may be able to offer kinship carers who are not covered by these regulations, including criteria for accessing such supports and how decisions are made in areas of discretion.
8. The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 introduces the provision of a kinship care order and sets out the duties of local authorities to provide assistance to eligible kinship carers who are seeking, have obtained or are holders of a kinship care order and to children and young people who are subjects of such an Order. A local authority must provide kinship care assistance in such a way as to safeguard, support and promote the wellbeing of an eligible child. This non-statutory guidance has been developed to support the implementation of Part 13 of the 2014 Act.
9. In her Programme for Government (2015), the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP announced additional funding to ensure eligible kinship carers received improved allowances to provide parity with foster carers in their local authority. The Minister for Children and Families announced £10.1 million funding had been agreed with COSLA.
10. In 2015, the Scottish Government set out its vision for looked after children and young people. The Getting it Right for Looked after Children and Young People Strategy aims to improve outcomes for looked after children through three priority areas of work: early engagement, early permanence and improving the quality of care. The strategy focuses on:
a) Building on the assets within families and communities to prevent children from becoming looked after where possible;
b) High quality support and assessment for families;
c) Delivering permanence without drift and delay - while taking account of the needs, rights and views of the child;
d) High quality care and support for those children who need to be looked after, including those who are looked after at home;
e) A planned and supported transition to interdependent living which meets the needs of each child and young person.
11. Relevant legislation:
- d) Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968
- e) Children (Scotland) Act 1995
- f) Human Rights Act 1998
- g) Data Protection Act 1998
- h) Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000
- i) Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003
- j) Local Government in Scotland Act 2003
- k) Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004
- l) Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007
- m) Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007
- n) Equality Act 2010
- o) Children's Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011
- p) Social Care (Self-Directed Support) (Scotland) 2013
- q) Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014
- r) Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014
- s) Carers (Scotland) Act 2016