According to recent reports, in 2013 one in three children in foster care were separated from siblings. Between April 2013 and March 2014 almost 11,000 children under 16 years of age (who had at least one sibling) were placed into care in the UK. Action for Children found that a third (3,582) were split from their brothers and sisters.
Newsbeat spoke to some of the children who had experienced this separation and said it left them feeling “empty and alone”.
To try and resolve this issue, Government officials are working with councils to encourage more foster carers to take on brother and sister placements.
“I felt safe when my brother was there”
Scott King, 25, went into care with his older brother when he was six months old and has stayed in about 36 foster placements.
“My brother was my whole family encompassed into one person. I felt safe when he was there. I didn’t trust adults because every adult that came into my life had let me down,” Scott explains.
However when Scott was eight, he and his older brother were split up.
“One day I got home and I went out to the rope swing where my brother used to sit every day after school and he wasn’t there. I asked where he was and I was told he had gone to a children’s home and that he wasn’t coming back…I felt like someone had stolen my brother,” he recalls.
Action for Children says separating siblings can have a long-term effect on their emotional and mental health and can also lead to problems in school, homelessness and criminal activity as well as drug and alcohol addiction.
Chief Executive Sir Tony Hawkhead said: “It’s difficult enough for a child when they are taken into care; it’s twice as difficult if not worse still when they are taken into care and they are separated from their brothers and sisters.
However he also explained how keeping siblings together is currently simply not achievable. “The reason we can’t do that is because we simply don’t have enough foster carers in the UK at the moment, we are about 9,000 short.”
What can be done?
The Department for Education has invested money to try out new ways to recruit more foster carers in England and recent figures have shown an annual increase of 9%.
Foster carers can come from all different backgrounds; whether you live in rented accommodation, are single, retired or in a same sex relationship.
You just need to be able to offer a loving and caring home.