When a child is placed in the care of a local authority the authority has a duty to place siblings together, unless it is necessary to separate them for a child’s own welfare. A recent report by the charity Family Rights Group (FRG) found that in spite of this almost half (49%) of sibling groups had been split up, with 37% of children not living with any of their siblings. Worryingly the North East is statistically the worst region for splitting siblings up.
Children who are placed into care have to cope with significant and distressing changes and the additional upset of being separated from a sibling can leave children feeling even more vulnerable, with negative effects on their emotional wellbeing and mental health. Separating siblings in care may mean children grow up without knowing their siblings.
The authors of the report recommend that there should be a presumption that children from the same family should be placed together unless there is suggestion that being placed together will have an adverse impact on the welfare of the child. In addition, where children are separated from siblings contact arrangements between siblings, including overnight stays, should be promoted. The question remains as to the practicality of promoting contact between separated siblings, particularly if children are of school age and live some distance apart. FRG also suggest that local authorities should regularly review sibling placement statistics and encourage wider family placements.
Here at David Gray we have seven members of the Law Society’s Children Panel – a group of lawyers who specialise in representing children, parents and other family members where there is local authority involvement with a family. We understand how distressing it is for parents, children and siblings to be separated. Our experienced team will listen to your worries and concerns and give clear and sensible advice to give you the best chance of achieving what you want for your family.