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Split Up In Care – Life Without Siblings

Foster siblings split up in care

Last night saw the release of Split Up In Care – Life Without Siblings, a documentary by BBC reporter Ashley John-Baptiste.

This powerful documentary highlights the devastating impacts on children in care when they’re separated from their siblings.

As an Independent Fostering Agency, we know that brothers and sisters should be placed in foster homes together where they can be. Unfortunately, despite everyone’s best efforts, this isn’t always possible.

The increase in the number of children coming into care, the complexity of their needs and the shortage of foster families creates the perfect storm where children sometimes have to be separated as there aren’t enough homes available for them to stay together.

This can mean that they lose touch with their siblings; the very people who influence their sense of self and identity. This can be very isolating and add greatly to their early traumatic experiences.

At Five Rivers Child Care, we do everything we can to ensure siblings safely stay together and in touch, but sadly this isn’t always possible.

There were some excellent examples in the documentary of innovative, early intervention practices with the aim of supporting families before things reach crisis point. This work is so important to try to keep families together.

There’s a profound and clear message from Ashley John-Baptiste’s documentary that I hope will have landed and been heard by all that watched it. Early work with families is crucial and where this doesn’t work, there’s a desperate need for more foster carers.

The sad and stark reality is that without more foster families, and specifically carers willing or able to take on siblings, we’re going to continue to see more cases, like Ashley’s, where children are separated. This adds to the complexity and confusion in their early lives and leaves children feeling disconnected and alone during childhood. These feelings can last in adulthood too.

The decision to become a foster carer is a big one. It’s a whole lifestyle change and a huge commitment but one that can be so positive, rewarding and life changing. If there were more foster homes available, we would see more sibling groups staying together and holding those strong relationships with one another.

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