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5.1.6 Assessment of Sibling Relationships: Children X and Y


The presumption of the 1989 Children Act is to place siblings together. This chapter focuses on the difficult but important decisions to determine the occasions when this should not happen and is based on the CoramBAAF work 'Together or Apart'. A Tool to assist in this consideration is included.


CoramBAAF, 'Siblings Together or Apart'

CoramBAAF tool: Together or Apart? Assessing siblings for permanent placement

Briefing on Placing Siblings Permanently, The Hadley Centre

The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review

This chapter was placed in the manual in March 2015.


  1. Introduction
  2. Legislation
  3. People involved in the decision making process
  4. Difficulties in the sibling relationship
  5. Analysis of all information including from Assessing Sibling Relationship Checklists

    Appendix 1: Sibling Assessment Form

1. Introduction

The purpose of this report is to consider the placement of children x and y and determine whether it is in their best interest to be placed together or separately. The assessment has been based on direct observations of sibling relationships, consideration of the history of these children, plus includes the views of those who have care of and regular contact with the children. The attached genogram shows the position of each sibling within the family.

This report recognises that 'sibling relationships are likely to last a lifetime and can be an integral part of a child's sense of identity, while potentially also providing support, companionship, continuity, annoyance, competition and conflict' (Edwards et al 2005).

Siblings involved in this Assessment



2. Legislation

The report has due regard to significant and relevant legislation and guidance.

The Children Act 1989 emphasises the need to place siblings together 'so far as is reasonably practicable and consistent with his/her welfare.'

Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 covers the right to private and family life and prohibits interference with this.

The Adoption and Children Act 2002 s1(4) requires the court to consider "the likely effect on the child (throughout his life) of having ceased to be a member of the original family and become an adopted person".

This report is undertaken to demonstrate the decision making process regarding the placement of x and y as required by the Statutory Guidance 2014.

3. People involved in the decision making process

Those involved in the decision making process are current foster carers who have contributed their observations of the sibling relationship, previous foster carers, birth parents, teachers, social workers, family support workers who supervise the contact on a 3x weekly basis so have been able to observe directly the dynamics between the siblings. I have been able to access information about the siblings’ relationship prior to removal from xxx. 

I have used CoramBAAF tool: Together or Apart? Assessing siblings for permanent placement to aid the assessment and decision making.(See also CoramBAAF, 'Siblings Together or Apart').

Children’s Views (if age appropriate) It should be noted that these may change over time, particularly if they are in different placements’.

4. Difficulties in the sibling relationship

If any difficulties have been identified, say what support has been offered or work undertaken to ameliorate these difficulties.

5. Analysis of all information including from Assessing Sibling Relationship Checklists

  • What are the positives and negatives that this relationship holds for each sibling (it may be positive for one sibling and negative for another-describe why);
  • What are other relevant people's views of this relationship (birth parents, teachers, foster carers, FSWs etc.);
  • Age factors (e.g. where one child has parented another);
  • Was one child favoured, scapegoated, any gender issues?
  • What evidence is there of warmth and care between the siblings?
  • How much conflict is there -is it over and above what would be described as 'normal' sibling rivalry?
  • Are have siblings been involved in abusing each other-Physically, Sexually or Emotionally?
  • How much do siblings identify with each other, consider they look alike, act alike, understand about what has happened to them?
  • Consider overall dynamics of a large sibling group, plus each individual relationship within it;.
  • Describe what work has been done to improve sibling relationships;
  • Consider relevance of any factors which may indicate siblings should be placed separately (see handout);
  • Include relevance of behaviours considered to have more significance than others-sharing in boisterous play, resolving conflict, reciprocal attempts to comfort each other when distressed;
  • Health Factors, of one or both children and how this impacts upon their relationship.


Based on analysis of the above information, plus taking into consideration the ages of children, work that has been undertaken, views of xxx, it appears to be in x's best interests to be placed together /separately.


Edwards, R., Hadfield, L. & Mauthner, M. (2005) Children's Understanding of their Sibling Relationships, Joseph Rowntree Foundation/NCB

Lord, J and Borthwick, S. (2008) Together or Apart: Assessing siblings for Permanent Placement (2nd edition) CoramBAAF

Appendix 1: Sibling Assessment Form

Appendix 1: Sibling Assessment Form