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Separated Siblings

Why are some brothers and sisters separated when they go into care? File on 4 hears from children and young people who have been forced to sever ties with their siblings.

When Sophia was growing up, she had an imaginary friend. It was only later she learned that the little girl she played with in her mind was not imaginary at all, but a distant memory of an older sister.

The two had been separated when they were in care, and contact between them was soon lost.

It might sound like a Dickensian tale of misery, but it’s not rare for siblings to be forced apart whilst in the UK’s care system.

In England alone, there are currently more than 78,000 children living in foster care or children’s homes.

Many have brothers and sisters, but keeping them together is difficult.

File on 4 hears from the children and young people who have been split up, and hear how it has affected the rest of their lives.

When they can’t be placed together, experts agree that robust plans should be put in place to maintain contact between them. So why is it not happening?

If one child goes on to be adopted, maintaining contact with their brothers and sisters is far from straight forward.

And for the families who do adopt sibling groups, there’s concern that they’re not getting the right help to support those relationships.

Some experts argue that keeping siblings together shouldn’t always be the default intervention.

For some, placing them apart might be in their best interests but are the views of children always being taken into account when these decisions are being made and is the importance of sibling relationships sometimes being overlooked?

Reporter - Paul Kenyon
Producer - Emma Forde
Editor - Carl Johnston

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