TACT warmly welcomes the report by the Children’s Commissioner for England on Siblings in Care. As one of the UK’s leading foster care providers, TACT is committed to keeping sibling groups together, and we currently look after nearly 300 siblings, with the overwhelming majority living together.
When, for safeguarding reasons, siblings are unable to live together, we promote regular meetups and a meaningful relationship between the siblings.
TACT supports all of the recommendations in the report with focus on practice and a strong presumption that siblings are kept together. However, we feel that the recommendations are not sufficiently imaginative and do not engage with the main reason that siblings are not placed together, which in our experience is simply the lack of adequate physical space in foster carer properties. This problem is especially prevalent in the South of England.
There is definitely no lack of willingness on the part of our wonderful foster carers to care for siblings and they look after sibling groups of 2, 3 ,4, 5 and once even 6. We find that our carers are very keen to welcome siblings into their homes and are determined to keep them together.
We would urge the Commissioner to look again and recommend some solutions to this pressing issue of lack of suitably sized foster carer accommodation for sibling groups. Addressing that issue could vastly increase the number of siblings kept together. With all of its resources the state must be able to find a way to loan carers the money to extend or convert their homes so that we can increase capacity to keep siblings together. Carers often have issues accessing finance as they are self-employed. By either offering long term interest free loans or taking a charge on any future sale of property there are ways to do this at low cost to local or central government.
Improving practice will help, but only increasing the number of bedrooms in fostering households will actually transform.
Here are two of our fostering families’ experiences of caring for siblings: