A third of UK children (3,582) have been separated from their brothers and sisters when placed in foster care during the last financial year, Action for Children have found by a Freedom of Information request.
This rose to 45% (257 children) in the East Midlands, during those 12 months.
According to the charity, splitting siblings can ignite feelings of loss and abandonment which can affect emotional and mental health. They increase the risk of unstable foster placements and poor performance at school, as well as further problems in adulthood, such as difficulty finding a job, drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness or criminal activity.
In a poll Action for Children asked children who have been split up from their siblings and live in foster care about how the separation made them feel; more than half say it makes them feel upset and angry. Yet it is known that a third of adults in the UK are willing to foster children, with 89% prepared to provide foster care to siblings.
Sir Tony Hawkhead, chief executive of Action for Children, said:
'For many children, being taken into care can be a confusing and upsetting time; add the distress of being split up from your brother or sister into the mix and the impact will last a lifetime.
Nobody wants to separate brothers and sisters, but there simply aren’t enough foster carers who can look after for siblings. By arming ourselves with a pool of dedicated people who can provide a loving and caring home to groups of children we will avoid breaking more young hearts in the future.
We know that in some cases children can be so badly hurt by what has happened to them before going into care, including severe neglect and abuse, that they need one–to-one support. In the vast majority of cases, however, siblings benefit hugely by staying together and that's why we need more foster carers to help them.'
If you would like to find out more about being a foster carer contact Action for Children - click here
or call 0845 200 5162.