ALL Sunderland siblings placed in foster care in the past year were separated from one another, a report released today reveals.
Every child put in care in the city over the last financial year was separated from their brothers and sisters, a Freedom of Information request by charity Action for Children shows.
In the North East as a whole, almost half of the 559 children from sibling groups who were placed in local authority care were placed in different homes from their brothers and sisters.
In light of the report, Action for Children, a fostering and adoption agency is calling upon foster homes in the city to take in siblings.
Charity bosses say splitting siblings can ignite feelings of loss and abandonment, which can affect emotional and mental health.
Research shows it increases 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.
“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.
Lots of people can foster, it doesn’t matter if you’re older, own or rent your home, whether you’re single, cohabiting or married, male or female or in a heterosexual or same sex relationship.
If you would like to find out more about being a foster carer, visit the website actionforchildren.org.uk or call 0845 200 5162.
Twins grateful they stayed together
PAULINE Hogarth, 33, of Doxford Park, went through the care system with twin sister Chrissy.
The sisters were born prematurely and were taken into care in Hartlepool at just three months old.
As a result of their early birth, Chrissy was left with cerebral palsy. The twins were fostered by Joy and Bill Hogarth, who developed such a strong bond with the girls that they adopted them.
As she got older, Pauline would help to care for Chrissy, who sadly died when she was 15.
Pauline said she was thankful not to have been separated from her sister.
“For the short time that I had with Chrissy, I can’t begin to imagine what it would have been like if we hadn’t grown up together” she said.
“I appreciate that some siblings have to be separated for safety reasons, but I’m thankful we were able to stay together.”