Fostering in Wales

Foster care – Sibling Separation

Foster caring – Separating siblings

When siblings go into foster care, they leave family members and move to a completely new environment, based on decisions made by social workers. Although it is not in their best interest for some sibling groups to be placed together, Sibling Separation is often a consequence of foster caring due to the lack of suitable and available placements.

It is also the case that siblings might need to be separated because of a risk to each other or if one or other has special needs.

Experts say…

Experts say that those with positive sibling relationships report higher rates of life satisfaction and lower rates of depression in later life. They also say that in times of traumatic events, siblings provide emotional, social and psychological support. Siblings are those who you are born and raised with, and are obviously very important figures in our lives; it is for those reasons that it is important for siblings to stay together.

The numbers..

Unfortunately, about a third of children taken into foster care are split up from their brothers or sisters in the UK (Data obtained by “Action For Children“). Chief executive Sir Tony Hawkhead 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“. That 1/3rd of people probably had a worse time going into the foster care system than most, as they did not have the support which would have been given by that brother or that sister.

The reasons

The main reason that siblings are split up is the severe shortage of foster carers in the UK. There are not enough people willing to care for a child, meaning the system cannot always prioritize keeping you with siblings, the main priority instead is finding a home for the child in care. The Fostering Network estimates that 8,600 new foster families are needed across the UK in the next 12 months, with a particular need for foster carers for sibling groups (as well as teenagers and disabled children). The problem of sibling separation just because of the lack of appropriate foster care placements will continue unless more people make the decision to foster.

Recently, action was taken on Twitter with regards to sibling separation in Foster Care. Many previous foster children posted pictures of themselves with their sibling(s), with the hash tag #siblingselfie, to support the Action For Children campaign.

Unfortunately, a lack of support is not the only problem that may arise if a child is split with his/her sibling(s). Some children may act out if they are separated. Some may be extremely traumatized by the loss of their sibling, and so upset by the separation, that further problems arise. The separation can lead to an increased chance of many psychological disorders; such as anger management issues, serious behavioural issues, and in some scenarios- even depression. It is for these reasons that we must do everything we can to make sure siblings stay together, and must make sure we know how we can help.

These issues can be helped if more people choose to foster so if you have a spare room, spare time, and the determination to help a child in need – then it’s likely you can do the job.

Kids need to stay with their siblings, and if you want to help and meet the criteria to foster, YOU can apply to be a foster carer.

To find out if you can afford to foster – Fostering Allowances