Foster homes needed for brothers and sisters
Almost two-thirds of local authorities have had to split up siblings who are in care over the past year owing to the shortage of foster families, new research from the Fostering Network has shown.
The survey, published during Foster Care Fortnight (14 to 27 May), found that:
• Two-thirds (65 per cent) of fostering services have struggled to find homes for groups of brothers and sisters in the past year, and have had to split them up because they haven’t had foster carers able to take them all.
• Three-quarters (73 per cent) said that it has got harder to keep brothers and sisters together over the past five years.
• Four out of five (83 per cent) fostering services are looking for more foster carers for sibling groups than they were last year.
Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network, said: “Our relationships with our brothers and sisters are often some of the most important and longest lasting of our lives. Yet children in care, already dealing with the trauma of being separated from their parents, are all too often split up from their siblings as well.
“Sometimes brothers and sisters will be separated because it is in their best interests, but in general finding a foster family that can keep siblings together is crucial. The research released today shows the increasing struggle that fostering services face to find these foster families. We need to be getting the message out to people with room in their houses, and the energy, determination and skills to care for two, three or even four siblings.”
Foster carer Joanne Vayro said: “Looking after siblings is something I really do enjoy. It makes the children so much happier to stay together and they worry less. Siblings can be hard work but seeing them grow together is fantastic. You need to be organised and routines are very important when you have a large sibling group, but I must say we never have a dull moment. There is always something going on! I would definitely do it again.”
The Children Act 1989 requires local authorities in England and Wales to place a child with their siblings ‘if reasonably practicable and consistent with their welfare’. Similar legislation exists in Scotland and Northern Ireland. However, well over half of children in care are believed to be separated from their brothers and sisters.
Across the UK, a child comes into care and needs a foster family every 22 minutes. The Fostering Network estimates that an extra 8,750 foster families are needed in 2012 alone.
To find out more about fostering and to explore foster carer films and blogs, visit www.22minutes.org.uk
For more information, case studies or to schedule interviews contact the Fostering Network press office on 020 7620 6425 or email email@example.com
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Notes to editors
1. The Fostering Network’s new research was based on responses from 81 fostering services across the UK during May 2012.
2. To encourage more people to become foster carers the Fostering Network has launched the 22 Minutes campaign. For more information visit www.22minutes.org.uk
3. On any one day there are more than 59,000 children living with more than 45,000 foster families across the UK. See breakdown of statistics by country.
4. According to the annual Children’s Care Monitor 2011, published by the Children’s Rights Director in England, 69 per cent of children in care with a sibling had been separated from them. Research has repeatedly found that being separated from their brothers and sisters is a major issue for children in care, and that children believe they should be placed together unless there is a good reason for this.
5. The Fostering Network estimates that at least 8,750 foster families need to be recruited across the UK in 2012 alone. A regional breakdown is available.
6. Foster Care Fortnight, the Fostering Network’s annual campaign to raise awareness of fostering and the need for more foster carers, runs from Monday 14 to Sunday 27 May 2012. Download our campaign press pack.
7. The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading charity for all those involved in foster care. It exists to make life better for fostered children and the families that care for them.