Nearly half of sibling groups are separated in care, finds report

Research by the Family Rights Group found 49.5% of sibling groups are separated in local authority care

Photo: Gary Brigden

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.

Legal duty

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.

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2 Responses to Nearly half of sibling groups are separated in care, finds report

  1. Steve Vaudrey January 28, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

    So sad to see siblings split up. In some rare cases it may be better for siblings to live apart, but mostly they want to and should stay together and do so much better if they do.

    But finding foster carers with enough space to take sibling groups, especially in cities where there is such pressure on space, is no easy task. I am sure the Spare Room Subsidy (Bedroom Tax) does not help as empty nesters (potentially good foster carers) are financially forced to downsize.

    We have to try harder to keep families together and split them up only for clear, defendable reasons.

  2. Patch January 29, 2015 at 4:14 pm #

    The ‘free specialist independent legal advice and information services for family’ that is most urgently required by people is to help them understand why Social Services are making the recommendations they are with regard to their children, their rights and responsibilities, and the likely next stages if they fail to participate or comply. Also help with contesting the outcomes that Social Services are pressing for. So many parents are not aware of their rights and feel they are being betrayed, or misrepresented by Social Services, which creates a confrontational situation that is extremely damaging to all concerned.