…every effort should be made to enable siblings to maintain contact with each other, unless this is against their wishes or interests

United Nations Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, UN General Assembly, 2010, A/RES/64/142

Sibling relationships are among the most important and longest lasting relationships in our lives. However looked after children are often separated from their siblings due to being placed away from each other either in foster placements, residential units or by one sibling being accommodated and the other remaining with parents at home. From our work with vulnerable children and young people we know that looked after siblings frequently either do not see each other or do not spend sufficient time together, either through a lack of action from the local authority involved, or simply due to sibling contact not being given the same priority as parental contact.

The law as it currently stands does not allow children to easily address sibling separation and contact. 

We are calling for legislative changes to protect the relationships of care experienced brothers and sisters. 

This publication outlines the current law and the changes we want to see: 

Prioritising Sibling Relationships for Looked After Children by Fiona Jones with Dr Christine Jones (February 2018)

Clan Childlaw is a co-founder of Stand Up for Siblings, a Scotland wide partnership aimed at improving and changing legislation, policy and practice. www.standupforsiblings.co.uk contains information for young people, information for professionals, blog posts and signposting.

Stand Up For Siblings has published a reworked ‘Seven Steps to Sibling Relationships’, a road map to everyone working to stop sibling estrangement when children become involved with the care system. It sets out seven key intentions to supporting sibling relationships with detailed actions for achieving each of these goals. 

Read more: 

Seven Steps to Sibling Relationships

Supreme Court Hearing, 13-14 November 2019 in two cases involving the rights of brothers and sisters in the Children's Hearing System

Joint Stand Up for Siblings response to the consultation on the Review of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 and creation of a family justice modernisation strategy 

Clan Childlaw's response to the consultation on the Review of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 and creation of a family justice modernisation strategy

Promoting Sibling Contact for Looked After Children (published November 2015)

Barriers to Sibling Contact, Vicki Straiton, Clan Childlaw, The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland (2012)

Clan Childlaw Sibling Contact Briefing for MSPs during the passage of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 & stage 3 briefing

Research Briefing: Supporting Sibling Relationships of Children in Permanent Fostering and Adoptive Families, Dr Christine Jones, University of Strathclyde & Dr Gillian Henderson, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration