Family Rights Group (FRG) is calling for local authorities to do more to keep sibling groups taken into care together, after they discovered that half are being separated. Despite sibling groups making up a significant proportion of looked-after children, the research found that the average authority has just one specialist sibling foster carer. In addition, of those foster carers with a prior connection to the child, just three per cent were caring for siblings.
FRG is concerned the duty on local authorities to keep sibling groups together wherever possible has been undermined by recent government reviews of adoption that concluded that trying to find carers to look after siblings could delay an adoption placement.
It is calling for the presumption that it is in the interests of siblings to be kept together when they are taken into care to be strengthened, and for local authorities to ensure they have suitable provision in place to meet the needs of siblings.
FRG said potential placements with family and friends carers should “always be fully explored and assessed for suitability”. It also wants the government to require local authorities to publish a family and friends care policy and place a new duty on them to commission family and friends support services.