Recent research conducted by The Family Rights Group suggests that:
“More than a third (37%) of children in care in England who have siblings are having to live apart from any of them and almost half (49%) of sibling groups in local authority care had been split up.”
Of course, sometimes there are good reasons for siblings to be kept apart but these are alarming statistics when you consider how, in most cases, a young person’s physical and emotional wellbeing rests on being kept with their siblings.
Blue Sky foster carers, Martin and Ellen, know the value of keeping siblings together, as they welcomed three siblings into their home in the summer of 2013. Here is their story:
“We really enjoyed bringing up our two children but they had flown the nest and we were left with a big, empty, family home”
“We considered moving to a smaller house, but something clicked and we thought we should use our skills and the space in our home to foster children and young people."
“After we had been approved to foster, the Blue Sky Placements Team contacted us very quickly, to ask us if we could offer a foster home to a sibling family of three, who lived in our area. The children had been neglected and needed the support, boundaries and encouragement of normal family life”.
“Initially, we thought we could look after two children at the most, but when we were told about Jamie, Danny and Sarah, our hearts melted. We had to keep them together. Jamie was just 13 when they came to us. Their parents couldn’t cope with looking after the children and Jamie had been the one to get Danny and Sarah ready for school each day. The three of them are their own little support network and we knew they had to stay together.”
As the children settled into their new home, Martin and Ellen set about helping them with their schooling and hobbies.
“We understood the younger two had additional needs due to Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), which causes developmental and learning delays in affected children. The little boy, Danny, had trouble explaining things and the little girl, Sarah, needed one to one tuition and help with her behavioural problems. Sitting still in the classroom was a big problem, but the teachers found a solution to this by giving her a ‘comfy cushion’ to sit on and she now settles nicely in class. Blue Sky arranged for us to attend a course on FASD and we were able to share our new found knowledge with the school teachers, which was really useful for all concerned.”
The eldest of the three, Jamie, has formed a strong bond with Martin.
“I’m the main carer as Ellen works, so I’m the one who does the school runs, takes them to their after school clubs and to and from their friends’ homes”
“We encourage the children’s hobbies. Jamie is such a talented photographer, we’re very proud of him. He likes to watch Top Gear and was inspired to build a coffee table similar to the one on the show. He stripped an engine down, cleaned it and carefully painted it, then we topped it off with a square piece of toughened glass and it takes pride of place in our sitting room. Our son commissioned him to make one for his home, too, and he’s delighted with his.”
“Like all siblings, they wind each other up from time to time, but this is lessening, we can predict when things are going to get a little strained between them and intervene before they become upset. We can’t imagine life without them. They’re a big part of our family and our own sons have welcomed them as younger siblings. We all spent Christmas with our son who lives in the north west of England and having the three children with us made it an extra special time.”
At Blue Sky Fostering, we are always pleased to hear from people who are interested in becoming foster carers. If you have a spare bedroom or two in your present home, a full driving licence and are aged 21+ you could foster.
Call us for an informal chat on 0845 607 6697 or enquire online. We'll be pleased to help you change your life and the lives of children in care.