Almost half of sibling groups in local authority care are split up, a report by the Family Rights Group has found.
Freedom of Information requests conducted by the charity revealed 49.5% of sibling groups are separated in local authority care, based on responses from 122 English local authorities.
Where sibling groups were placed together, 23% were living in family and friends foster care, double the number of all looked-after children in kinship foster care placements (11%).
The report notes that, “although relatively few looked-after children live in kinship foster care, it appears to particularly be conducive to support sibling to be able to live together”.
Only 1% of sibling groups who were placed together were living in residential child care.
Care plans for separated siblings in care should clearly set out the contact arrangements between siblings if it is not in the child’s best interests to be placed with their sibling, the Family Rights Group recommended.
Local authorities were urged to regularly publish data on sibling placements to ensure they make suitable provision to meet the needs of sibling groups. The charity also recommended a new legal duty to force councils to explore potential kinship placements.
A duty should also be placed on local authorities to establish and commission family and friends care support services, the report recommended, after it highlighted research showing children raised by sibling carers are particularly disadvantaged.
To help tackle this, the government should fund free specialist independent legal advice and information services for family and friends who are considering, or have taken on, a child, the report recommended.