What Do Brothers and Sisters Really Feel About Each Other



Today (Friday 10 April) is National Siblings Day, a holiday recognised annually in some parts of the USA to honour the relationships of brothers and sisters.


Siblings Together, a British charity which champions the interests of brothers and sisters separated in the care system, wants to use the day this year to launch an online research study into what adults really feel about the value of having a brother or sister. The aim is to focus public attention on what the trauma must feel like for siblings to be separated in childhood.


Ofsted’s recent Children’s Care Monitor report showed that 71 per cent of looked after children with a sibling in the care system were separated from a brother or sister during 2014. For those in residential homes the figure was considerably higher at 95 per cent.


Delma Hughes, Chief Executive and founder of Siblings Together said: “The level of sibling separation in care is a national scandal. The emotional and physical cost of separation is obviously going to impact heavily on the individuals concerned, but it is also an unnecessary drain on the UK economy as without family networks, children in care are likely to have poorer life outcomes and contribute less to society. We are launching this survey to focus attention on this issue among those fortunate enough not to have gone through this experience.“


Anyone with a brother or sister who wants to take part in this study can do so through the following hyperlink: http://bit.ly/sibssurvey . The findings of the study will be published this summer.


Statistics show that children in the UK care system can be placed at a severe disadvantage to their peers. For example, today in the UK:


  • 36 per cent of care leavers aged 19 are not in education, employment or training (NEET)
  • Nearly a quarter of girls in the care system become teenage mothers
  • 24 per cent of the total adult population in prison have been in care
  • 11 per cent of homeless people are care leavers
  • 70 per cent of sex workers have been in care.


Siblings Together has tried to quantify just some of the costs of sibling separation in more detail. It concludes:


  • There are approximately 40,000 children in care now who are living separated from brothers and sisters who are also in care, and a further 4,000 children entering care and separated from siblings each year.
  • Over a third (34%) of children separated will rarely if ever see their siblings again.
  • If just over a third of children in care separated from their siblings fall into the NEET category, then Siblings Together estimates the cost to the UK economy of this could be in excess of £800 million, of which over £400 million represents the “excess” of NEET rates for children in care over average NEET rates.[i]
  • And there are many other major costs of the poor outcomes for children in care: for example, only 1% of children are in care, yet 24% of prisoners were in care, at huge cost to society