Why does a child or young person become care experienced?

Foster carers will care for children and young people who have been assessed by the Local Authority as requiring safeguarding. Removing children or young people from the care of their family is a significant measure.   A Family Group Decision Making Emergency Network Meeting would have been conveyed to ensure that there is no one in the child or young person’s family network able to provide an alternative home and care for them. This is always our preferred option, where possible.

If a child or young person does need a foster care placement, they will come to live with foster carers using various legal orders. 

  • A Sheriff can issue a Child Protection Order (CPO) to immediately remove a child or young person from circumstances that put them at immediate risk.
  • The Police or someone authorised by a Justice of the Peace can remove a child or young person to a Place of Safety for up to 24 hours, allowing time for a CPO.
  • A child or young person may be placed with foster carers Voluntarily through a Section 25.  This arrangement is an agreement stipulated within The Children (Scotland) Act 1995, which enables an arrangement between the Local Authority and usually a parent.
  • The Children’s Hearing can grant a Compulsory Supervision Order (CSO). This means a child or young person can live away from home, under the supervision of the Local Authority, for as long as is necessary. It has no limit and can be up to the age of 18, although must be reviewed by The Children’s Hearing System at least once a year, or anytime by a parent, after the initial three-month period. 
  • The Children’s Hearing can gran an Interim Compulsory Supervision Order (ICSO). This is like the CSO but needs renewed every 21 days, and as the name suggests, is a temporary, and is an ‘Interim’ measure.
  • If the Local Authority assesses it would not be safe to return a child home, the Sheriff Court can make a Permanence Order (PO). This order may remove some or all parental responsibilities from a parent and gives this to the Local Authority, who can then share this with a permanent foster carer. This is known as giving ancillary provisions.
  • For some children, a Permanence Order can give the authority to Adopt (POA). A child will be placed with Adoptive Parents.

Most legal orders will require a court process.  Foster carers are likely to become familiar with The Children’s Hearing.  This system protects and safeguards children and young people in their care and justice approach, which is unique to Scotland.

Foster carers should be given a copy of any order a child or young person is the subject of and ensure that they have a good understanding of how that Order, or any conditions within it, may affect them or the child or young person they are caring for. 

Whichever legal order a child or young person is the subject of it means the Local Authority are responsible for them and they cannot return home without the order being reviewed or varied by The Children’s Hearing or Sheriff Court. Or in the case of a voluntary order, which has been continuous over a six-month period, then the Local Authority requires a parent to provide 14 days’ notice.

Foster carers are likely to be invited or required to attend a Children’s Hearing.  If more information is required for a decision to be made, or an order granted, a Sheriff or Children’s Panel may appoint a Safeguarder.  They may visit the child or young person at the foster carer’s home.  They will write a report for panel members and attend the next Hearing or Court date. Not all children and young people need to have a Safeguarder.

What are our duties and responsibilities to children and young people?

Once a child or young person becomes care experienced, the local authority has several legal duties towards them and their families: 

  • We must safeguard and promote children and young person’s welfare. It is our primary concern.  All care experienced children or young people will have a social worker. Their social worker has a duty to visit them at least every three months but many will need more frequent visits. They must also have a written child’s plan, one which is reviewed regularly.
  • Children and young people should have the use of services, the same as any others who remain cared for by their parents.
  • if in their best interests, we have a responsibility to place brothers and sisters together or geographically close.  Foster carers support children and young people’s relationships to people who are important to them. Brother and sisters are at the forefront.
  • We have a duty to promote regular and direct family time with children, young people and their families providing this is consistent and is in their best interests. For those children and young people where this is not possible, we continue to support relationships through indirect family time. 
  • We provide advice and assistance with a view to the time when the child or young person decides to leave their foster family. 
  • We find out and have regard to the views of children and young people, their parents, and any other relevant person, when decisions are made.
  • We take account, so far as is achievable, of children and young people’s religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background. 

Foster carers play a key role in helping us to meet these duties. It is important that either by mistake or purposefully, foster carers do not do something that conflicts with these duties. Foster carers duties and responsibilities are detailed in the Carer Agreement they hold with us.