The Scottish Parliament has today (April 1st) approved the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill, which sets out emergency measures to help ‘protect the public, maintain essential public services and support the economy’ during the coronavirus pandemic.


This emergency legislation, which will automatically expire six months after it comes into force, was debated in The Scottish Parliament today with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stating ‘The Scottish Government does not want to be legislating for exceptional powers, but these are exceptional times.’


Measures contained within the Act will usher in a number of changes affecting the care-experienced community and those that support them, including:

  • Extending timescales and relaxing producral rules around Children’s Hearings
  • Increasing the period in which a child can be placed in Secure Care without an order
  • Extending the time frames for reviews and appeals of kinship placements
  • Removing the cap on the number of children that can be placed with a foster carer


In a briefing to MSPs in advance of today's debates, The Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland urged that emergency powers provided should be ‘lawful, necessary, proportionate and time limited to safeguard children and young people’s rights’ and called for the government to issue specific human rights-based guidance, as well as to make amendments to ensure that every person under the age of 18 is defined as a ‘child’ in accordance with the UNCRC.


Barnardo’s Scotland emphasised that ‘Looked after children and care leavers must continue to receive the same level of support from Local Authorities across Scotland’ within the context of the relaxation of local authority duties, and the Scottish Association of Social Work (SASW) noted the importance of local authorities providing support and monitoring to ensure both child and carer well-being in the event of placement extensions.


Staf CEO Jo Derrick commented on the Act, stating:


“In what is an unprecedented and challenging time it is understandable that The Scottish Government has sought emergency powers that will allow for greater flexibility in how support is provided.


“However, we echo calls by The Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland that children and young people’s human rights must underpin any use of these new powers. 


“Staf will continue to work closely with member organisations, including local authorities, to ensure that no young person in or leaving care is disadvantaged as a result of legislative changes in response to COVID-19.”

References and Further Reading


Barnardo’s Scotland

Stages 1-3 of COVID-19 Emergency Legislation Briefing by Barnardo’s Scotland's%20Scotland%20briefing%20for%20Coronavirus%20emergency%20legislation_0.pdf

Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland
Parliamentary Briefing: Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill


Scottish Association of Social Work (SASW)

Scottish Association of Social Work Briefing to MSPs on the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill


The Scottish Government

Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill


The Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe)

Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill – SPICe Briefing