Siblings - Staying Together and Connected National Implementation Group: executive summary report

Summarises the work of the Siblings: Staying Together and Connected National Implementation Group, the progress made, and the priorities for further work, for Scotland to continue on its journey to ensure brothers and sisters with care experience stay together and connected.


The aspirations of the legislation, national practice guidance, and the STAC group are high. They reflect a commitment, set out in the Promise Plan 21-24 and from national and local partners, to ensure that wherever appropriate, care experienced children in Scotland will live with their brothers and sisters. There is an intent that whether children live together or apart, their sibling relationships will be supported to flourish and reach their lifelong potential. Children and young people have a right to express their views and for these to be taken into account when Local Authorities are making plans for them and their siblings.

These aspirations for brothers and sisters align with, and are encompassed by, a wider and equally strong vision of change across the whole landscape of support for children, young people and their families, as Scotland works to implement the UNCRC, GIRFEC and #KeepThePromise by 2030, as well as establish a National Care Service and a National Social Work Agency. This is a vision where all families (always keeping as the paramount consideration each child's best interests) are supported to stay together, are involved and listened to when decisions affecting them are made, and where love and relationships are at the heart of all forms of care and support.

This provides a strong foundation for change. However, it must be acknowledged that there are factors within the wider environment which challenge our collective desires and ambitions to fully implement the level of change needed to support brothers and sisters to stay together and connected.

The work of the Independent Care Review highlighted how important sibling relationships are to children's health and well-being, and this underpinned the commitment of the National Implementation Group to see consistent good practice across the country in this area.

A small participation project, led by Who Cares? Scotland, informed the work of the group, and demonstrated that practice is currently inconsistent and impacted by a range of factors. Implementation requires a skilled and supported workforce, equipped with the knowledge, experience, and dedicated time to assess and support children's sibling relationships, and ensure children are aware of their rights and able to access them. It requires:

  • sufficient numbers of skilled carers (whether foster, kinship, residential, or prospective adopters), with the right support and resources to enable them to care for children together with their siblings.
  • access to suitably sized and affordable housing where children can live together with their brothers and sisters.
  • carers supporting children and young people who live apart to have the skills, commitment and practical resources to make sure these brothers and sisters spend quality time together.
  • child-friendly places and spaces to be accessible for children who live apart from their siblings to spend quality time together.
  • accountability, with monitoring of how siblings rights are being experienced, and remedies to address breaches of rights.

At a time when recruitment and retention of the social work workforce[5], and of carers[6], is particularly challenging, and in a context of a housing, public sector resource, and cost of living crisis, these barriers to meeting our aspirations consistently, for all children, are increasingly challenging to overcome.

Whilst acknowledging these challenges, this report identifies areas of progress, priorities for further work, and tangible actions to enable progress to continue over the immediate, medium (in line with The Plan 21-24) and longer (in line with work to #KeepThePromise by 2030) term. No one organisation can do this work in isolation, we must work collaboratively as everyone has a role to play. National and Local Government leadership is crucial and this summary identifies priority actions for the Scottish Government and Local Government to consider across a number of areas.



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