Kinship care - Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 - part 13: updated guidance 2024

Updated non-statutory guidance to accompany Part 13 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (Support for Kinship Care) and The Kinship Care Assistance (Scotland) Order 2016 . Designed for practitioners it pays attention to consistency of definition, application of legislation and good practice, and reflects growing knowledge of the particular needs of kinship families.


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1. The Scottish Government along with partners in the Kinship Care Collaborative have produced this updated guidance for Part 13 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) 2014 Act (“the 2014 Act). It is designed for practitioners who are providing kinship care assistance.[1]

2. This updated guidance reflects growing knowledge about the particular needs of children in kinship care and of their carers, and the supports which best enable carers to meet the needs of the children in their care. The format and content has been informed by carers and practitioners, including the need for the guidance to explain the legislation more clearly. Particular attention has been paid to consistency of definition, and good practice.

3. Kinship care is where a child is unable to live with their birth parent(s) and resides instead with a relative, a friend or acquaintance of someone related to a child, a guardian or other individual with whom they have a pre-existing relationship e.g. a godparent, or close family friend. The carer is referred to as a kinship carer and will provide for the child’s needs.

4. The experiences and needs of children in kinship care vary, and they may be subject to a range of legal orders, or none. Some children will live with relatives as a result of a private family arrangement with no statutory involvement from external agencies or as part of a child’s plan[2] agreed with the family. Others may be looked after children placed with kinship carers by the local authority. In that situation the kinship carer looks after the child on behalf of the local authority who remains the corporate parent. The final category of children in kinship care are those who live with carers and the carer has a kinship care order[3] or where a child has a guardian by virtue of an appointment under section 7 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 (the “1995 Act”).[4]

5. This guidance relates to the final category. It is issued in respect of Part 13 of the 2014 Act and the Kinship Care Assistance (Scotland) Order 2016 (“the 2016 order”), which is made under the 2014 Act. This guidance covers kinship care assistance that is available in respect of certain children. This includes support for people who are considering seeking a kinship care order in respect of a child under 16 who was previously looked after or is considered to be at risk of becoming looked after and certain children over the age of 16 who have previously been the subject of a kinship care order.

6. Support for kinship carers with children in the first two categories in paragraph 4 above is covered variously by the wider underpinning of Getting it right for every child guidance, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (“UNCRC”), the United Nations Convention on the rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Act 2024 and the Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009 and associated guidance. It is intended that further guidance will be developed explaining and linking all relevant frameworks for children in kinship care at a future point.

7. The boxes at paragraph 15 of this guidance outlines those people for whom the local authority must provide kinship care assistance and the duties of local authorities to make arrangements to ensure that kinship care assistance is made available to those people.

Policy Context

8. All children and young people should have the opportunity to grow up in a loving family environment, where they are safe and secure, and where they have dependable, enduring relationships with their caregivers. This is reflected in the ambition of the Scottish Government that Scotland is the best place for children to grow up.

9. The best interests of children have been at the heart of childcare practice in Scotland for many years. The Scottish policy context reflects this through the Scottish Government’s commitment to the UNCRC, which provides that in all actions concerning children the best interests of the child should be the primary consideration.[5] The UNCRC also underlines the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including family relations without unlawful interference.[6] Part 13 of the 2014 Act and the 2016 Order provide a framework, in line with the UNCRC principles, to meet the needs of those who are in receipt of kinship care assistance.

10. Underpinning this vision is Getting it right for every child,[7] Scotland’s national policy context for all children and young people which provides the foundation for care and support in Scotland. Getting it right for every child makes it everyone’s duty to ensure that children are supported to grow up safe, healthy, active, nurtured, achieving, respected, responsible and included. The Getting it right for every child National Practice Model describes how children’s needs for support are assessed, including those of children in kinship care.

11. The Promise,[8] the output from a three-year review of Scotland’s care system, built on Getting it right for every child and underlined the importance of children being supported to remain with their families where it is safe to do so, and with extended family being the first consideration where this is not possible. The Scottish Government has committed to Keeping the Promise.[9] Research and good practice tells us that what allows this to be achieved is providing good quality support to the kinship family.[10]

12. Woven through the above policies is the importance of listening to children and involving them in a meaningful and appropriate manner when decisions are being made about their care.[11]

13. Practice knowledge and research underpin the policy context outlined above, and underline that high quality, safe, loving kinship arrangements often best meet the needs of children who require alternative family care. Such kinship arrangements allow children to develop healthy attachments where they can become confident, resilient, healthy and happy individuals.



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