Plea made to keep looked-after siblings together
With almost two thirds of looked-after siblings being separated from each other when entering the care system, there is desperate need to find foster carers willing to keep these children together.
This issue was recently raised by Cathy Ashley, chief executive of the charity Family Right Group, in an article published in the Guardian newspaper. She has made an appeal for greater focus to be placed on ‘prioritising and respecting’ sibling bonds within the care system.
“We impose on children who have already suffered loss, and in many cases abuse, further trauma by separating them from their brothers and sisters,” she said.
The article also highlighted the conclusion of the Care Inquiry report, produced by several UK care charities last year, which said continuity of relationships is essential in helping children to construct identity and to develop a strong sense of belonging, which are both crucial to their wellbeing.
The difficulty of keeping siblings together is a problem all too common to fostering agencies which are constantly looking for foster carers who are willing and able to accommodate siblings.
“It is an issue that comes up regularly, and increasingly so,” said Lisa Witter, senior supervising social worker at Perpetual Fostering. “When we receive a referral for siblings, our primary focus will be on keeping them together but there may be times when this is not possible. If we have a referral for a large group, maybe seven siblings, then we have to look at what alternatives are available.”
The best solution
When Perpetual Fostering encounters these issues it will look to place siblings with foster carers who work well together. The agency operates a ‘buddy’ system between its foster carers and nurtures strong community bonds, which makes it easier to pair carers and sibling children. It also organises regular group forums and community activities for the children within its community which provide lots of opportunities for siblings to come together.
The best solution, however, is when the agency finds foster carers who come forward and say they are able to keep siblings together.
“When people recognise there is an issue and that it can sometimes be difficult to keep siblings together, it helps. When they put themselves forward, saying they have ample room to accommodate more than one child, well that is fantastic. It is a very generous offer which we will, of course, look to tap in to as it is so beneficial for the children involved.”
If you are someone who may be willing to foster siblings, we would love to hear from. If you would like more information about becoming a foster carer, please get in touch either through the Perpetual Fostering website or by telephone.