Protecting & preserving the bond between siblings

How can children in care be supported to have meaningful and safe contact with siblings, if they want to?

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Looked After Children and Care Leavers held a meeting on 28th October 2015 to discuss this very issue. The meeting was attended by 94 children, young people and professionals.

Particular note was given to a report published by the Family Rights Group (FRG). The report investigates the experience of siblings in the care system. It found that half (49.5%) of all sibling groups in local authority care are split up and that 37% of children in care who have at least one other sibling in care are living with none of their siblings. The research also found that although relatively few looked after children live with kinship foster carers, it appears to be particularly conducive to supporting siblings to be able to live together. The report sets out a series of recommendations to enable more siblings in care to live together, when it is in their welfare interests.

Read the FRG report here: What happens to siblings in the care system? Report by Cathy Ashley and David Roth, Family Rights Group, 26 January 2015

The meeting of the APPG also pointed to comments made by the Local Government Association (LGA). The LGA has pointed out that social workers are keeping siblings together most of the time but this becomes difficult when there are large sibling groups. Read more from the LGA here: A third of siblings in care ‘forced to live apart’


 Maintaining relationships with family, especially their brothers and sisters, is important to their wellbeing, now and in the future.

This video follows the stories of 4 CREATE Young Consultants and their struggles with keeping in contact with their siblings. 


Delma Hughes, founder of Siblings Together, has worked for many years with children in care and vulnerable children in her capacity as art therapist.

Preventing separated siblings from becoming estranged, preserving their identity and safeguarding their
family support networks is important for children while they are in care as well as when they leave care.

Siblings Together provide opportunities for planned, enjoyable, creative and high quality sibling contact, for children living in different care arrangements.

Read more about ‘Siblings Together’: support and services and how you can help

Statutory guidance and regulations



The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations Volume 2: care planning, placement and case review

Review of the international research literature

This paper by Christine Jones (2015) presents a review of the international research literature published since 2005 focusing specifically on sibling relationships in fostering and adoptive families: Sibling Relationships in Adoptive and Fostering Families: A Review of the International Research Literature 

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