Welcome to another week.

A report by Oxford University’s Rees Centre, based on several international studies looking at placement and outcomes of siblings when they are fostered highlights some serious concerns about the separation of brothers and sisters in social care.

The findings support current government policy which is that siblings should wherever possible, be placed together.

The report tells us that about 19% of children and young people entering care, assessed as needing to be placed with siblings, are placed apart from them. It also offers a call to action, urging social workers and fostering providers to focus on facilitating sibling placements.

Key recommendations include:

For Social workers –
 Involve young people more in placement decisions. Involving young people in their placement
decision leads to better outcomes and this applies equally to sibling group placements.

For Fostering providers – 
 Recruit foster carers who are able and willing to foster sibling groups, such as those with greater housing capacity, and those with more experience in caring for multiple children with a range of needs. Foster carers should help facilitate contact between siblings placed apart where appropriate.
 Identify incentives for foster carers to take sibling groups. Consider financial benefits, training and adequate support.
 To help inform service planning, consider the developing body of evidence around the impact of
intervention programmes designed to support siblings in foster care. The intervention studies in this review show promising early findings in relation to the greater frequency of sibling co-placements, but also improved quality of the sibling relationship for children in foster care.

We think these suggestions are in the main positive, however the offer of financial incentives remains, to our mind, a problematic solution and one we have written about many times in relation to different child welfare topics.

Our question this week then, is this: do you agree with all the suggestions above, and do you have any of your own you would like to add?

Thank you to the National IRO website for sharing this report.