The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014
Important Legal changes in Kinship Care
The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 was introduced in March 2014 with provisions on kinship care coming in to force from 1st April 2016. It is a key part of the Scottish Government’s strategy for making Scotland the best place in the world to grow up. The Act places a duty on local authorities to ensure assistance is made available to kinship carers and the children in their care who are applying for or currently have a Kinship Care Order. The key areas of importance of this Act are Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12 and Part 13 and these will be discussed in detail throughout this guide.
Kinship carers of “looked after” children will also find legislation specific to their needs in the Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009.
As part of this Act, children from birth to 18 years will have a Named Person. The Named Person will be available to listen, advise and help a child or young person and their family, providing direct support or helping them to access other services. They can help families address their concerns early and prevent them becoming more serious.
The plan has been designed to help all staff working with children and families in any organisation in the community think about the needs of a child or young person. The Act ensures a Child’s Plan will be available for children who require extra support that is not generally available to address a child or young person’s needs and improve their wellbeing. Every plan should include and record information about the child’s wellbeing needs including the views of the child and their parents, details of action to be taken, the service(s) that will provide the support and how they will be provided, the aims and outcomes of the plan, and when the plan should be reviewed.
Early Learning and Childcare
The Act has introduced new early learning and childcare entitlements. Since August 2014, two year olds, from the point they are looked after, or are under a Kinship Care Order or are placed with a parent appointed guardian, are eligible for 600 hours a year (approx 16 hours per week during term time) of free early learning and childcare. This provision is also available to all 3 and 4 years olds in order to improve outcomes for children, especially those who are more vulnerable or disadvantaged and support parents to work, train or study, especially those who need routes into sustainable employment and out of poverty.
The Act puts Corporate Parenting on a statutory footing and introduces a new framework of duties and responsibilities on a variety of organisations included as corporate parents. These duties require all corporate parents to collaborate with each other to promote the wellbeing of looked after children and care leavers in their care and enable them to achieve the best outcomes.
This part of the Act is designed to extend the Aftercare support, guidance and advice provided by the Local Authority for care leavers. All young people who were “looked after” regardless of their placement type on or after their 16th birthday are equally entitled to Aftercare services up to their 26th birthday.
This part of the Act describes a duty on local authorities to provide support and assistance to young people who are “looked after” in kinship care (and those in foster and residential care) beyond their 16th birthday, giving them a choice to remain with their family/carers whom they have bonds with until they reach age 21 or until a time when they are more prepared to live independently. It is expected that kinship carers will want to provide this long-term care but kinship carers also have an entitlement to decide not to provide a Continuing Care arrangement.
Services in relation to children at risk of becoming looked after
Part 12 places a duty on local authorities to provide appropriate and effective support services such as family group decision making and parenting support to children at risk of becoming looked after and their families, as well as vulnerable pregnant women and their families. The intention is to prevent children from entering the care system by providing opportunity for wider family involvement in the care for a child and is about keeping the family at the centre of decision making but provided with the right support when needed.
Secondary legislation: the (Relevant Services in relation to Children at Risk of Becoming Looked After etc.) Order 2016 specifies these services as being family group decision-making services and parenting support services. It also specifies when these services will be provided.
Support for Kinship Care
Part 13 specifies the types of court order that will be recognised as a Kinship Care Order (KCO) for the purpose of receiving kinship care assistance. It also places a duty on local authorities to ensure that assistance is made available to those who apply for, consider applying for or have obtained a Kinship Care Order regarding an eligible child.
In short a kinship carer who has an order under Section 11 (1) of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 for parental responsibilities and rights, residence or guardianship will be deemed to have a Kinship Care Order.
Secondary legislation: The Kinship Care Assistance (Scotland) Order 2016 sets out what kinship care assistance is and how it is to be provided.