Siblings Hugging

Keeping Siblings Together in Care

The recent BBC3 programme, Split up in Care – Life Without Siblings documented BBC reporter Ashley John-Baptiste’s story of growing up in Foster Care and spending most of his life believing he was an only child. In his mid 20’s everything changed when Ashley received a life-changing message on social media from a man telling him that he was his brother.

This powerful and moving documentary highlights the emotional impact that can affect many children in care who are unaware of their siblings or are separated at a young age.

A brother, sister, or sibling relationship can be one of the most enduring a person experiences within a life course.  The term ‘sibling’ is not legally defined in UK law. It can include step-siblings, half-siblings, or unrelated children who have been brought up together. The value of these relationships to us all, but especially children who have experienced the loss of other parental and family relationships, is immeasurable, and being placed separately can be enormously damaging to the individuals involved.

UK-wide laws place duties on local authorities to accommodate children together, except where this is not in one or more of the children’s best interests.  Sometimes decisions are made by authorities under pressure, being led by funding or capacity challenges, a belief that it is easier to manage the children apart without the full and necessary consideration of the lasting implications of a potential separation, and the impact this may have on the entirety of children’s lives.  The care sector needs to change to find more creative ways to enable children to stay together, and leaders need to enable social work staff to undertake these important pieces of work by allowing the time and resources they quite rightly deserve.

FosterTalk wholeheartedly upholds the fundamental principle of enabling brothers, sisters, and siblings to live together in a home that provides them with the safety, warmth, and encouragement they need to grow and learn about themselves and the world in which we live, and that human relationships are the key to finding happiness and success.

You can watch Split Up in Care – Life Without Siblings on BBC I player here

What are your views on brothers, sisters, and siblings in care?  Tag us @fostertalk in your comments and posts on socials or email us at

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Written by Catherine Turner