One in three children split up from their siblings in foster care.

A third of UK children (3,582) have been separated from their brothers and sisters when placed in foster care between April 2013 and March 2014 Action for Children charityfound by a Freedom of Information request. The charity asked all 211 local authorities in the UK and 89% responded. Figures varied from place to place, but more children were separated from their siblings in the East Midlands compared to any other region, with a rate of 45%.

The chief executive of Action for Children, said:

‘For many children, being taken into care can be a confusing and upsetting time; add the distress of being split up from your brother or sister into the mix and the impact will last a lifetime. Nobody wants to separate brothers and sisters, but there simply aren’t enough foster carers who can look after for siblings. By arming ourselves with a pool of dedicated people who can provide a loving and caring home to groups of children we will avoid breaking more young hearts in the future. We know that in some cases children can be so badly hurt by what has happened to them before going into care, including severe neglect and abuse, that they need one–to-one support. In the vast majority of cases, however, siblings benefit hugely by staying together and that’s why we need more foster carers to help them.’

Government officials have now said they are working with councils to recruit more foster carers who can take on children who are “harder to place”, including brothers and sisters. It is important for Local Authorities and other professionals involved with families to consider the relationship and attachments between siblings. If the Local Authority place a child in long term foster care it is important to factor in the necessity of maintaining the sibling bond either through placing the siblings together or if this is not possible then ensuring they have regular direct contact with one another.

This has proven difficult with large sibling groups but not impossible. The paramount consideration in cases involving children is what is in their best interests. Ensuring that siblings are placed into care with their siblings wherever possible is in their best interests. This is the same for adoption. If the Local Authority seek an adoptive placement for a child who has siblings then attempts should be made to try and place those siblings together. It is important to remember that if a child is not able to remain with their birth parents that they have the opportunity to remain with some of their birth family and this usually means their siblings. The bond between siblings is a strong one and should not be ignored.

If Social Services are involved with your family or you have been informed that they wish to apply to court in respect of your children then please contact a member of our care team on 0116 255 4855 who will be able to assist. In most cases you will be eligible for legal aid therefore legal advice to you will be free. If you call to arrange an appointment we can advise you whether you are eligible for legal aid by telephone.