Why should you foster siblings?

Friday 12 February 2021
Two smiling sisters in garden

Since 2018, a growing number of siblings have come into care. For children whose lives are turned upside down, staying with their brother or sister can be vital

Many of the children we need to find homes for have brothers or sisters. We spoke to our fostering team about why keeping siblings together matters  and why more people should consider it. 

How big is this issue?

Quite big! Data shows that over 12,000 children in care have been separated from at least one of their siblings.  Local authorities often struggle to find homes for more than one child, especially if there are three or more.

Many siblings end up going into different homes, sometimes in different parts of the country. It’s our priority to make sure we keep brothers and sisters together where we can.

Why is it important for siblings to stay together?

A child's relationship with their brother or sister can be one of the most important and longest they have in their life. Family is your identity. It helps you to make sense of who you are.

Keeping siblings together helps to maintain their relationship, especially if they rely on each other. Of course, it’s also a connection to their family and it can give them a sense of belonging and stability.

A child's relationship with their brother or sister can be one of the most important in their life

What happens to siblings when they are separated?

Siblings who are separated can feel isolated. The added loss of being parted from their sibling as well as their parents can be overwhelming.

They may feel less secure, find it hard to make attachments and have more behaviour problem. They also miss out on that normal family life together.

Should siblings always stay together?

Sometimes it’s not in the best interests of the siblings to stay together. It could be there is a difficult relationship between siblings. Or it may be because a child has specific needs.

Sibling relationships, like all relationships, are complex - especially when there has been a difficult history. But it’s usually in the best interests of the child to stay with their siblings.

Siblings embracing

Why should more people consider fostering?

Many of our carers who foster siblings say how rewarding it is. There’s nothing better than knowing you are keeping siblings together. Giving them the opportunity to grow up together and have shared experiences. Helping them have that shared history.

Terry and Gina, two of our foster carers, said: “It’s a privilege to be looking after the siblings that we have now. Their personalities are completely different. We love them both equally”.

Are there any challenges?

Siblings may have different education, behaviour, and emotional needs. Juggling different needs can be challenging. One child might attach more to a foster carer than the other. This can then bring up feelings of rejection for the child who is struggling. It’s important to maintain a positive relationship with both.

Can siblings share a room?

It depends. Some children find comfort in sharing a room with their brother or sister. Others need their own space. Often, we prefer for children to have their own room. There are lots of things to consider. It depends on their age, relationship and needs – or simply if they’re used to sharing a room! 

What questions should you ask yourself?

If you are thinking about fostering siblings but you’re not sure, ask yourself:

  • Do you have the time, dedication, energy, and space?
  • Do you get on with children?
  • Do you enjoy being around children?
  • Do you want children in your life and have experience of looking after them?
  • Can you look after children who have different needs?