‘We try and keep siblings together’ – Hartlepool Council reacts to shock figures

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HARTLEPOOL Borough Council says it tries to keep siblings together when they are placed into foster care as figures show 45 per cent of brother and sister groups are split up.

A Freedom of Information request by children’s adoption and fostering agency, Action for Children, shows that around two thirds of children in Hartlepool have been separated from their siblings when placed into foster care within the last year.

There were 11 sibling groups placed into foster care in Hartlepool from April 2013 to March 2014, which involved 29 individual children.

Five of these groups were split up from their brothers and sisters.

Durham County Council separated just three sibling groups out of a possible 42 who were sent to live with foster parents.

Collective statistics from local authorities in the North-East show that around half of siblings were separated.

A spokesman for Hartlepool Borough Council said: “We would always try to place brothers and sisters together unless there is a good and clear reason for not doing so.

“This is reflected in the fact that the recruitment of more foster carers willing to look after sibling groups is currently one of our top priorities.

“While we do have some foster carers who are able to look after smaller groups of brothers and sisters, families are becoming bigger these days and it can be hard to find carers to look after sibling groups of three, four and five children. In such cases, there would need to be two or three spare bedrooms.

“We continue to participate in a joint recruitment campaign with the other Tees Valley local authorities and the recruitment of carers able to take on larger sibling groups is a priority within the campaign. We would urge any prospective foster carers, particularly those able to take on larger sibling groups, to get in touch.”

Action for Children says 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.

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.”

Prospective foster carers can telephone the council on (01429) 405588 or email: fosterandadopt@hartlepool.gov.uk