TWO thirds of children in Hartlepool have been separated from their siblings when placed into foster care within the last year.
A Freedom of Information request by children’s adoption and fostering agency, Action for Children, shows that around 62 per cent of youngsters were split up from their brothers and sisters when taken into care.
The statistics from local authorities from across the North East show that around 50 per cent of siblings were separated from one another, increasing feelings of loss and abandonment which can affect emotional and mental health.
Action for Children shows that separations 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.
The agency asked foster children who have been split up from their siblings how the separation makes them feel, and 75 per cent of them said it made them “upset”.
The children’s charity says it knows that around a third of adults in the North East are willing to foster children, with 87 per cent prepared to provide foster care to siblings.
Carol Iddon, director of children’s services at 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 in the North East who can look after 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.”
Action for Children is looking for people with a spare room who can provide a secure and loving home to all children who have had traumatic experiences.
For further information visit actionforchildren.org.uk or call 0845 200 5162.