News Publication / Research / Resource

Research Briefing: Supporting Sibling Relationships of Children in Permanent Fostering and Adoptive Families

Key findings

  • Sibling networks of looked-after and accommodated children can be large, diverse in age and spread over multiple households and care types (kinship, foster, residential care and adoption). This creates challenges in terms of supporting sibling relationships.
  • Three categories of biological sibling emerged from the analysis of case files: familiar, stranger and undocumented siblings. Seventy-six familiar siblings and 78 stranger siblings of the 50 children included in the study were identified. Numbers of undocumented siblings could not be estimated.
  • Children who were accommodated and subsequently placed permanently away from their birth parents experienced a high degree of estrangement from siblings. Fifty-eight percent of these children had biological siblings who were ‘stranger’ siblings and 68% of children were living apart from at least one of their ‘familiar’ biological siblings.
  • Children’s contact arrangements with siblings and wishes in this regard were inadequately documented in case files. Where recorded, sibling contact tended to diminish over time.
  • Patterns of referral and intervention differed by birth order with first-born children less likely than last-born children to be referred to the Hearing System or accommodated before they were one year old. They were also less likely to be the subject of compulsory measures at first referral to the Reporter. Last-born children were accommodated at an earlier age and were more likely to be adopted than their older siblings.

Read full piece at source: Research Briefing: Supporting Sibling Relationships of Children in Permanent Fostering and Adoptive Families

Related reading

Sibling relationships – 5 things every professional should consider

Our mission is to help bring about improvements in practice and policy. Holding children at the centre of what we do through our work with and for them, we aim to lead and promote excellent care and services. The partnership consists of an elected Chair and elected Regional Leads who represent their regions at a national level (two from each of the nine regions within England).

3 comments on “Research Briefing: Supporting Sibling Relationships of Children in Permanent Fostering and Adoptive Families

  1. Only too happy to assist any services with our work. We have just completed a unique three year ‘Siblings Buddying’ Pilot. Will be seeking Children’s services and providers across the UK interested in incorporating our model into existing services, to support and enhance provision for this fundamentally crucial aspect.


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