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New legal rights for siblings attending children’s hearings

Changes to the Children (Scotland) Act 2020 came into effect Monday 26 July 2021 in Scotland. We know how important this is to everyone attending children's hearings and we are so pleased this momentous day has come. The changes make sure that brothers, sisters, or brother/sister like relationships, are given real space at children's hearings. 

The changes to the act:

  • Give brothers and sisters greater opportunities to participate in children’s hearings;
  • Give children and young people of all ages more opportunities to give their views in the way they choose;
  • Place a duty on local authorities to take steps to promote contact between a child in care and their brothers and/or sisters, as well as a duty to gather the views of brothers and/or sisters before making decisions;
  • Place a duty on decision-makers (such as Panel Members and Sheriffs) when making, varying or continuing a Compulsory Supervision Order to consider contact with brothers and/or sisters and relevant persons the child is not living with.

Elliot Jackson, National Convener, said: “Maintaining those relationships that are most important to children and young people is vital, and for many of our Panel Members comes as second nature when making decisions in hearings. We have been preparing for these changes for some time now to ensure consistency of this practice across Scotland. To support this we have developed a learning resource for our Panel Members, and updated our Practice and Procedure Manual, highlighting the key changes in the act and the responsibilities placed on us as decision-makers in hearings.”

If you want to read some more, our partners, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA), have shared some excellent resources today to inform about the changes to the Children (Scotland) Act: