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Fostering sibling groups – all the facts

The Fostering Network recently released data showing that there is currently a need for over
9000 new fostering families across the UK. A lack of foster carers can lead to siblings in need of
foster care becoming separated. If you want to become a foster carer, have you considered the
possibility of fostering sibling groups? In this blog post, we are sharing all the information you
need about fostering siblings. With your help, more brothers and sisters can be kept together
during their time in foster care.

Can I foster siblings?

It is not only possible to foster sibling groups, but keeping brothers and sisters together is often the best decision for the children. Unfortunately, with a shortage of foster carers and the amount of time and commitment needed to foster siblings, it is not uncommon for brothers and sisters to be placed with different families.

Fostering sibling groups can be more challenging than fostering individual children but it can
also be extremely rewarding. The 1989 Children Act states that siblings in need of foster care
should be placed together whenever possible and only when this living situation is ‘reasonably
practicable and consistent with their welfare’.

Should siblings be placed together in foster care?

There are certain circumstances where keeping siblings together isn’t the best option for the
children. However, in most cases, fostering siblings together has many benefits.

Children will settle into their foster home better – It has been found that when siblings are
fostered together, they can settle into their new home more quickly and with less challenges. The familiarity of a sibling in an unknown environment can make the adjustment process feel a little easier for everyone.

Children will feel more secure and supported – Moving into a new home with a foster family can be a scary and anxious time for children and young people. However, with a sibling by their side, children will always have someone who knows all about them and can give them the support they need. Often, when children are separated from their siblings, they can become worried about their brother or sister’s wellbeing. When they are living in separate foster families, siblings are not only getting used to a new parent dynamic, but also no longer have their brother or sister around for comfort.

Better sense of togetherness and belonging
– Foster families work hard to make sure children
feel loved, supported and nurtured in their new home. However, often children can feel a little lost and miss the sense of belonging that comes with spending time and growing up with their
siblings. When siblings are fostered together, they do not feel completed separated from their
family unit and life as they knew it.

Why are siblings separated in foster care?

While there are many benefits to keeping siblings together and placing them with the same
foster family, this is not always the most appropriate course of action. Keeping siblings together will depend on various factors and when the children must be separated, plenty of consideration will have gone into this decision.

Common reasons why siblings are separated include:

The children are a risk to each other – If children come from an abusive background,
unfortunately the parents’ behaviours can influence how siblings interact with each other. When siblings pose a risk to each other, separate foster families are the best option for all the
children’s safety and well-being.

Different needs – When one or more siblings has additional needs, they may be placed with a
foster carer who has the necessary training and experience to manage any challenges and
provide the most appropriate support. If siblings have differing needs, separate foster families
may be the best way to make sure each child is getting the help and attention that they need.

Not enough space – Often, there are foster carers who would love to foster sibling groups, but
they just don’t have the space. Sometimes it is appropriate for siblings to share a bedroom, but
this will depend on their age and gender. For example, good practice suggests that siblings
should not share a room if they are over 5 years old and of opposite genders however
sometimes, it is deemed more important to keep children together and further discussions and
risk assessments can take place in such circumstances between us as an agency and the local
authority responsible.

Ideally children need their own room for privacy and to have their own space within their foster
home. The living space and communal areas must also be large enough for everyone to live
comfortably together. Unfortunately, although many foster carers would happily look after large sibling groups, they don’t have a big enough home to do so.

How to foster sibling groups

If you want to foster sibling groups, the first step you need to take is to get in touch with our
team. After your initial phone call, one of our social workers will visit you at home to discuss your fostering ambitions and answer your questions. During this meeting, one of our team will look around your home, see the bedroom space available and should be able to assess whether you have the necessary space needed to care for sibling groups.

To get in touch with our team today, please call 0800 524 4797 or email
admin@focusfostercare.com. With a need for more than 9000 new foster families here in the UK, the sooner more people are approved to foster, the more likelihood there is of siblings being able to stay together during their time in foster care.


To find out more about fostering and how to become a foster carer with our independent fostering agency, please read the following pages on our website:
Types of foster care.
Who can foster?
How to become a foster carer with Focus Foster Care.
Fostering – frequently asked questions.
The benefits of fostering with Focus Foster Care.